DUE to the rising cases of Covid-19 in Cebu and the country, the Archdiocese of Cebu has decided to disallow “Visita Iglesia” during the observance of Holy Week 2021.
Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, Secretary General of the 500 Years of Christianity (500 YoC) celebration, said the decision was reached as the Cebu Archdiocese could not afford to risk preparations for the year-long special event which will be launched in Cebu on April 4.
Visita Iglesia is a Roman Catholic Lenten tradition to visit seven churches on the evening of Maundy Thursday to reflect on the Passion of Christ and pray before the Blessed Sacrament placed on the churches’ altar for adoration.
The Archdiocese of Cebu, through its Commission on Worship and Liturgical Commission, earlier also said devotional processions usually done on Holy Week will not be observed this year amid the pandemic.
Aside from Visita Iglesia, devotional processions include “Via Crucis” on the Fridays of Lent and within the days of the Holy Week, the “Pasos” on Holy Tuesday or Holy Wednesday, the “Santo Entierro” and the “La Soledad” processions on Good Friday and “Sugat” at dawn on Easter Sunday.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Col. Josefino Ligan welcomed the announcement.
He said the Church can opt to hold its usual Lenten activities through social media.
“Hopefully they will consider that suggestion so that we can avoid gatherings in places of convergence,” Ligan said in Cebuano.
Starting Monday, March 29, the CCPO will implement a full alert status in Cebu City to ensure that security forces remain vigilant during the Holy Week.
Aside from churches and pilgrim sites, local police will be deployed in ports and bus terminals for the safety of those coming to the city for the Lenten observance.
Holy Week 2021 begins with Palm Sunday on March 28 and ends on Black Saturday, April 3.
Meanwhile, the Cebuano clergy celebrated a closed-door Chrism mass and the renewal of vows on Tuesday, at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma, in his homily, expressed gratitude that they were still given the chance to celebrate the Chrism mass and the renewal of vows with the other priests in Cebu even amid the pandemic.
He recalled how the Chrism mass in 2020 was postponed later in October and was held in various districts because of the Covid-19.
Palma said the Chrism mass, a public celebration that shows unity of the bishop with the priests of his diocese, becomes more significant because of the 500 YoC.
“Sayod kita, bisan pa duna’y Covid (We know that even though there is Covid), we are not paralyzed. We thank the Lord for the grace of being able to experience and survive. Even if there is Covid, we usually say, dayon ang 500 YoC (on with 500 YOC),” said Palma.
Palma said the Chrism renews their commitment to the Lord and reminds them that they are called not for their own sake, but for the sake of the faithful, God’s people. (AYB / NRC, WBS)