Pampanga archdiocese taps internet to reach flock as COVID-19 shutters Masses


Posted at Mar 17 2020 01:22 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2020 02:51 PM

Filipino Catholics wear protective masks during a mass, following confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, Feb. 5, 2020. Eloisa Lopez, Reuters/File

MANILA - The San Fernando archdiocese in Pampanga province said Tuesday it would tap social media to reach Catholics while Masses in the northern city are suspended as a precaution against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

All parishes will celebrate only one Mass per day and without the presence of worshippers until April 14, 2 days after a month-long home quarantine of all households in Luzon, San Fernando Archbishop Florentino Lavarias said in a letter on Monday. 

These Masses will be livestreamed on the socia media accounts of parishes, read Lavarias' letter shared on Facebook by Pampanga Gov. Delta Pineda.
The archbishop said churches and chapels would remain open, with the following additional measures effective from Monday:

  •  Pilgrimages, processions and recollections are canceled 
  •  Parish baptisms are canceled, otherwise, administer baptisms limited to the presence of parents ad godparents
  • No funeral masses, only funeral blessings
  • No distribution of communion to the sick except viaticum, or giving the Eucharist to a person near death
  • No house blessings and other sacramentals 

The San Fernando archdiocese said on Facebook that parishioner couples may also postpone their wedding date, limit the number of guests or opt for a "kasal desposada," where there would be no mass and the priest would head straight to the marriage sacrament. 

COVID-19 also prompted the suspension of Masses and Holy Week activities in Metro Manila, where a community quarantine was first enforced Sunday.

On Monday, government upgraded the restriction to an enhanced quarantine over all of Luzon, suspending all public transport, suspending work and school, and urging people to stay at home in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. 

The Philippines has confirmed 142 cases of the respiratory disease, including 12 deaths, while 3 patients have recovered.