Tuesday, 14 April 2020 16:25

Doing Ministry after COVID-19 Lockdown (Part 3)


In the past month, most of the work of many parishes was not that of liturgical celebrations. Of course, we had to prepare our churches and ourselves for the online masses and other religious services. Those did not take much time. What took most of our time was organizing how to distribute the gift certificates (GCs) and in large part, the actual giving of the GCs to the poor families together with our volunteers and barangay officials. Some parishes also spent time packing rice and other goods to distribute to the people. In a word, works of charity characterized our church activities during this time.


We have done a lot to help many people during this lock down. We now house more than 440 street people in 8 facilities in the archdiocese of Manila. Some 510 medical front liners are given lodging in 23 parishes, hostels, and convents. We have generously received help in the form of food items and sleeping materials from many religious communities and generous parishioners. Helping the poor has been an important expression of our work as church during these days. We were able to reach more than 400,000 families through our gift checks and food packs.

After the quarantine days, it would not be right to just toss the street people back to the streets and to let the hospitals take care of their medical staff. We have to maintain the good will and the relationships that we have created with the beneficiaries, with the donors and with the administrations of various medical institutions. The parishes, schools and religious communities need to set up structures that can create a continuous relationship with the people. Besides, it would not mean that come May 1, there would no longer be any COVID 19. This virus will be around for some time so our effort to contain it should also continue.

Another consideration that we have to look deeply are our financial situation. People will give to the church once the public services start, but surely not as much as they had been doing. Everyone’s pocket has been affected by the quarantine. Thus the parishes are to plan very carefully with their finance councils how to make ends meet in the coming months. It is good that there are already vicariates who help the poor parishes meet their obligations to their personnel. As we have decided at the start of the lock down, as much as possible we will not dismiss people from our workforce. If people are not able to work, it is not that they do not want to work. Everyone among us is a victim of these hard times.

As we try to help our parish and school personnel, let us also explain to them to be patient and not to demand the same treatment as before, as if nothing had happened. The challenge now is how to keep the morale of our people high in spite of the fact that we all face hard times. Let us all face this new situation with generosity and trust.

 

Broderick Pabillo
April 14, 2020

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