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Archbishop: Give priority to health and safety during Holy Week celebration

By Myrna Bermudo

“The health and safety of our communities shall be foremost in the solemn observance of Holy Week and Triduum, “declares Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, O.C.D., of the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Circular number 0003, series of 2021, lists the general guidelines for Palm Sunday; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the Holy Week; Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday and Celebration of the Sacraments.

“The celebration of the Holy Week will observe the basic health protocols mandated by the Government,” the Archbishop said.

In the stillness of the night, two children silently venerate the Blessed Sacrament as it slowly pass by during a mobile procession held in the evening of Holy Thursday 2020. For a mobile procession, Fr. Bernard Lagatic, parish priest of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Dugcal, Camaligan, mounted the Blessed Sacrament in a vehicle that went around Mangayawan, Canaman, Camarines Sur, one of the barangays under the parish jurisdiction. Last year, local churches experienced cancellation of processions and big gatherings inside worship places due to community lockdown brought about by coronavirus pandemic. For Holy Week 2021, the Archdiocese of Caceres issued the same guidelines last year that : “ Parishes may hold processions of designated images mounted on vehicles. The faithful shall not be asked nor allowed to join the procession.” A warning for the faithful not to be complacent during Holy Week celebrations. (/MB 📷 Eden Toribio Parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta)

Basic health protocols include wearing of face mask, use of hand sanitizers or alcohol, frequent handwashing physical distancing and sanitation of the spaces for liturgy and worship.

The guidelines follow the recommendations laid down by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Decree of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

On February 17, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has issued a Note to bishops and episcopal conferences on the celebration of Holy Week 2021. It offers basic guidelines to assist bishops in their task of providing for the spiritual welfare of pastors and faithful in celebrating the Holy Week.

The COVID-19 pandemic once again presents a challenge in this year’s Holy Week observance. The Note from Congregation of the Divine Worship thereby calls for “prudent decisions in order that the liturgy can be celebrated fruitfully for the People of God…while respecting the safeguarding of health and what has been prescribed by the authorities responsible for the common good.”

The Note from the Vatican Congregation also highlights how the use of social media has greatly assisted the local Church “in offering support and closeness to their communities during the pandemic”. It suggests that this media outreach continue and encourages the faithful who are unable to attend their own church to follow diocesan celebrations in social media as a sign of unity.

It can be recalled that one of the general guidelines for Holy Week 2020 for the Archdiocese of Caceres instructed that “all priests will celebrate the Holy Week and Paschal Triduum in the absence of the faithful.”

In the circular issued last year at the onset of the enhanced community quarantine, public celebration of the Holy Week, blessing of the palms, procession, tonton-Easter angel, passion play and communal pabasa were suspended.

With the new government regulation which took effect February 15, public religious gatherings are now allowed up to fifty (50) percent capacity of the venue. Places of worship were previously allowed only ten (10) percent capacity last at the start of community quarantine.

With safety of the people in mind, the circular was issued by the Archbishop for the celebration of the Holy Week and Easter Triduum amid the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It also serves as a reminder to the faithful not to be complacent.

Here are the general guidelines for the celebration of the Holy Week and Easter for 2021 in the Archdiocese of Caceres:

The Archdiocese will livestream the Holy Week Celebrations at the Metropolitan Cathedral. Some parishes will also provide live broadcast in their social media accounts.

Stations of the Cross on Sundays during Lent shall be done inside the Church. Parishes may hold mobile barangay via crucis within the parish.

Communion shall be received by the hand only, following precautionary measures and liturgical guidelines. 

When anointing of the sick or confession has to be administered, precautionary measures should be strictly observed.

Parishes may hold processions of designated images mounted on vehicles. The faithful shall not be asked nor allowed to join the procession.


The celebration of the Palm Sunday will be simplified. There will be no procession and no traditional “Hosanahan” where children are involved. After every Mass, the priest may go around and bless the palm branches while the people remain standing at the pews. The priest may go around the streets within the parish riding a vehicle to bless the palm branches placed in front of houses.


These days can be devoted to reflections and devotions at home. On Holy Wednesday, the parish will hold a simple procession of the Nazareno and Dolorosa only, mounted on a vehicle. This will substitute the general processsion of pasos.


The celebration of the Chrism Mass will be at the Metropolitan Cathedral in a simplified form. Limited attendance of lay faithful are allowed.

The rite of washing of the feet during the Last Supper Mass at the Parish will be simplified. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament shall be reposed in the altar of reposition. Public vigil of the Blessed Sacrament will be for a limited period of time observing basic health protocols. Cenaculo at the Parish is suspended.


The Archdiocese will livestream the Veneration of the Cross and the Siete Palabras at the Cathedral, to be made available through social media. Parishes shall no longer hold Siete Palabras. 

The rites for the Veneration of the Cross in the Parish will be simplified. Veneration will be done by bowing or kneeling, not kissing or touching the Cross. After the Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, only the images of Hinulid and Dolorosa shall be mounted on separate vehicles for a mobile procession around the parish.

The family is encouraged to read the “PASYON”. They can also pray the “VIA CRUCIS AT HOME.”


The celebration of the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral and other parishes will be livestreamed in their social media accounts.

The priest may reduce the number of readings as allowed in the Misal. 


There will be no traditional “Pagtonton” but the parish may have “Resurrection Angels”. “Salubong” shall be done inside the Church after the procession of the images of the Resurrection and Dolorosa mounted on separate vehicles.


All pastors of souls should care for the spiritual needs of the faithful especially in this season of reflection and renewal. However, we shall reduce to the essentials the manner by which the sacraments are administered considering the public health situation, to wit, when Anointing and Confession have to be administered, precautionary measures should be strictly observed in order not to compromise the health of the faithful and the minister; General Absolution may be given to a number of penitents together if individual confession is not possible; Wedding Masses and Funeral Masses or Oracion (Prayer for the Dead) must be conducted with precautionary measures such as social distancing and sanitation inside the Church and with limited number of people.

The circular containing the guidelines was issued on January 27, 2021.

In the circular, Archbishop Tirona stated: “In this Year of Missio Ad Gentes and the Year of St. Joseph, we recall the sacrifices of missionaries and the stewardship exemplified by St. Joseph. Following their example, we continue to prevent the transmission of the COVID19. Let us pray for God’s mercy and compassion in the protection of the Divino Rostro and through the intercession of Our Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia.”


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