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Bicolano bishops urge faithful to seek ‘Ina’s’ help vs Covid-19

LEGAZPI CITY--- Bicolano bishops in the region have called on the faithful to pray and seek the intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia for healing against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as death toll and cases of infection continue to rise in the country and all over the world.

Bicolano bishops led simultaneous prayers across the region on Sunday, Apr. 19, 6:00 PM for healing through the powerful intercession of “Ina”, Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicolandia.

The Bicol prelates led by Rolando J. Tria-Tirona, archbishop of Caceres along with Joel Z. Baylon, Diocese of Legazpi, Jose R. Rojas Jr., Diocese of Libmanan, Jose Allan V. Dialogo, Diocese of Sorsogon, Manolo A. De los Santos, Diocese of Virac, Jose Bantolo, Diocese of Masbate and Rex Andrew C. Alarcon, Diocese of Daet, in a statement, called on the Filipino people specifically the Bicolanos to join together for a unified prayers

invoking the help of Our Lady of Peñafrancia “to beg for God’s mercy” in the midst of Covid-19 crisis.

The Roman Catholic Church in the Bicol region comprises the archdiocese of Caceres and the dioceses of Legazpi, Libmanan, Masbate, Virac, Daet, and Sorsogon.

“The crisis is everybody’s concern. No individual or group can end this global crisis alone. We need each other. We are responsible for one another. We are all in the same boat. May we all continue to cooperate and collaborate as we move on. Magpadagos po lugod kita sa pagbangon,” the Bishops’ statement said. According to the bishops, prayer is our lifeline as through prayer the people entrust ourselves to God, the all powerful one.

“The sick, the dying and their families, the frontliners, decision makers, volunteers and fellow citizens need our prayers. For many of us, observing protocols, staying at home and praying are our best contribution to this fight. And praying together as one region can be more powerful and beneficial,” the bishops’ statement said.

The bishops recalled that in 1880s, the region was saved from the cholera morbo epidemic due to the ardent prayers of Bicolano ancestors to Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia and the Divino Rostro.

“We remember in the 1880’s our place was saved from the cholera morbo epidemic, because of the prayers of our parents to Ina, Our Lady of Penafrancia and the Divino Rostro. As a mother gather her children to prayer in time of need, we pastors, Bishops of Bicol invite you all for a moment of prayer together, simultaneously invoking the help of Ina, to beg God’s loving mercy on April 19, 2020—Divine Mercy Sunday, at 6:00 in the evening in your own parishes and homes. This is traditionally the Domingo e Albis, a day for the sick,” the prelates said.

The strong devotion to Ina was introduced by Spanish priest Fr. Miguel Robles de Cobarrubias in 1710, a testimony of the Bicolanos unwavering faith, sacrifices, innate love and commitment to Ina (Virgin Mary).

In times of crisis, the Bicolanos, known believers of two powerful religious icons of Mary, the Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga and Our Lady of Salvacion in Joroan Tiwi, town in Albay usually asked for Mary’s intervention for healing power.

Last Sunday, the Bicol prelates asked all parish priests to ring the bells, open the loudspeakers, turn on the lights, lit the paschal candle as we pray together.

“We ask our faithful, parishioners in their homes to light candles, open the lights, connect via livestream if possible, and pray with us, or pray on their own. We call this prayer moment as (Sararong Pag-arang; Sararong Pagtarabang.”

“Let us implore the triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for healing, protection and mercy; for greater patience, perseverance, generosity, sense of sacrifice; for unwavering vigilance, for fair, prompt, unselfish and compassionate service; for united effort and cooperation among ourselves. We especially pray for healing of those afflicted by COVID-19 and beg for deliverance from this pandemic. Prayer is not wishful thinking but an act of faith in God and real service in this difficult time,” the prelates said.

The Bicolanos believe in the healing power of the more than 300-year-old image of the Bicol patroness, Our Lady of Peñafrancia, or “Ina” whose feast is celebrated in September.

“We pray as a region in communion with the Church in the Philippines (CBCP), the Universal Church and the Holy Father. We pray not only for ourselves, not only for our region, but for our country and the world,” they said.

The prelates cited the Bible verses “Seek and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt. 7.7) and “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17).

“As we call for a united prayer, we express our sincere gratitude for the sacrifices of frontliners, of government and private sectors, NGOs, church and civic groups and all those working hard to face and stop the pandemic. We express our

closeness to the sick, the vulnerable and those in difficulty,” the bishops said

“We support and encourage acts of kindness and charity to ease the pains brought by this crisis. We are humbled and edified by the heroism of those who have offered their lives. We remember and pray for the eternal repose of the souls of those who died because of Covid-19. We express our condolences as we pray for consolation and strength for the families of those who died. We entrust ourselves to the Divine Mercy,” they said.

May our Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia, keep us and protect us from Covid-19 and may the Divine Mercy be upon us all, the prelates said.

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