The Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines, is welcoming young people to help, as volunteers, in liturgies and pastoral services, as they Archdiocese prepares to reopen churches, following the Covid-19 lockdown. “We need more volunteers now as there are new ministries and services to be carried out, or to be strengthened in this situation”, according to Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator in Manila.
Bishop Pabillo asked the help especially of young people, as adults and the elderly [as a precautionary measure] will be dispensed from attending Mass to avoid the risk of contracting the coronavirus. “We will have to bring the Eucharist to the sick and the elderly near their homes. We will need people to help us maintain proper physical distancing and regularly disinfect our churches“, he said.
In recent months, the Filipino Bishops’ Conference had asked parishes to train a greater number of young people to make them become “extraordinary ministers of communion”, so as to be able to help distribute the Eucharist to the people.
“We really need younger volunteers. I would like to appeal to our elderly parish volunteers: help us recruit one or two young volunteers to take your place in pastoral services”, said Bishop Pabillo.
Maria Christine Cabato, a 23-year-old university student, told FIDES [the News Agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples], “I am willing and happy to volunteer for church services“. Marcus Garcia, a 26-year-old teacher, adds: “I am eager to be a young lay minister to bring Communion to the sick and elderly“.
A service and an essential vital contribution that the elderly can still carry out in their homes – the Bishop’s message emphasizes – is prayer, “which is not only important, but is indispensable in the Church“. “May the elders, he added, “take care to accompany church activities with spiritual and material prayers and offerings. They can be our prayer intercessors in this moment of crisis”. The bishop expressed the hope for a forthcoming reopening of churches and the gradual resumption of liturgical services, “which we consider essential for the life of our people“.
In several dioceses across the country, Masses are streamed via social media while people remain at home for health emergency reasons. With the increase in cases of contagion (reaching about 26 thousand), Metro Manila (12 million residents but about 20 million people who actually live and work in the city) is still under the status of “community quarantine”, which began on March 16 with very severe restrictions on religious services.
As we prepare in Ireland for the resumption of public Masses on 29 June perhaps our bishops and clergy need to invite young people to also involve themselves in ministering to the older and less able among our Church communities.
With thanks to FIDES.