The Archdiocese of Manila will be implementing changes in its activities even after the lockdown due to the global spread of the new coronavirus disease.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Manila’s apostolic administrator, said the archdiocese will definitely strengthen its social media presence and improve the ministry for the sick.
The prelate said the global health crisis has proven that social media has become an important toll in the people’s practice of their faith.
“Some realizations become clear to us,” said Bishop Pabillo in a pastoral statement released this week.
He noted that parishes that have “well-developed social media ministry” were able to reach their people easily and offer them services.
“Thus, we should develop our social media ministry. Online religious services are here to stay,” said the bishop.
He said the media apostolate “is here to stay and will play a greater role in the life of the Church from now on.”
Bishop Pabillo also urged all church institutions to set up “good social media ministries.”
He also noted that the pandemic “has shown us the importance of the ministry to the sick.”
The bishop said that in the Archdiocese of Manila there are only five priests who are in the hospital chaplaincy. Most of hospital chaplains are either religious or guest priests.
“We should seriously think as an archdiocese to strengthen our ministry to the sick, even down to the parochial level,” he said.
The prelate said the ministry to the sick should not only cater to the sick in hospitals but also to the medical staff, and the elderly in their homes.
He said there is a need to recruit younger lay ministers from older altar servers, or older choir members, or even ask religious sisters and brothers to help in the ministry.
In his pastoral statement, Bishop Pabillo also noted that the practice of “social distancing” will continue even after the pandemic.
He said there should be more Masses on Sundays after the pandemic to limit the attendance of people or ask the people to come when there are less people.
“Each parish is to determine the adequate spaces to be observed between the Mass attendees,” said the bishop.
“This would mean that Masses should no longer be on an hourly basis,” he said, adding that some time should be given between services for the cleaning of the church.
Big celebrations should be done outdoors, and churches can invest in big screens and outdoor sound systems for people who will remain outside the church.
The bishop said he expects alcohol and hand sanitizers to become regular features at the door of churches and offices.
He mulled providing a foot bath at the door steps of churches and offices.
Bishop Pabillo said people have to do away with the practice of touching or kissing religious images in churches, saying a bow or a moment of silent prayer would be enough.
He urged members of the clergy in the archdiocese to use their creativity to serve the faithful “in the new situation that we are now in.”