Filipino Catholic church services suspended due to virus scare

02/29/2020 03:54 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 29 (CNA) A number of Catholic church services catering to Filipinos in Taiwan have been temporarily suspended or have implemented special measures in an effort to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Saint Christopher's Church in Taipei, which sees over a thousand Filipino churchgoers daily on weekends will be closed for pastoral and social purposes indefinitely starting Saturday in the wake of the spread of the acute respiratory disease.

Father Edward Pacquing, the church's parish priest, told CNA that the closure is a preventive measure due to the recent confirmed infection of an undocumented migrant caretaker, Taiwan's 32nd case.

Pacquing was referring to the case of an Indonesian woman, who was hired to help take care of an elderly man in a hospital and was confirmed Wednesday to have the COVID-19, a few days after the man was diagnosed with the virus.

"This is for the benefit of the majority of our local and global community," Pacquing said.

Perla Lupo, a Filipino member of the church said she agreed with the temporary closure.

"When we protect ourselves we are not protecting solely ourselves, but we are also protecting others," she said. "The lesser the infections the better care they can have."

In addition, all public Sunday masses under the Hsinchu Diocese -- Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, Taoyuan City, and Miaoli County -- are also suspended, according to a statement from the Diocese on Thursday.

Among those is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Taoyuan's Zhongli, which will suspend its Holy Mass on Sundays (10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., and 6 p.m.) indefinitely beginning March 1, according to The Hope Workers' Center, a mission that supports migrant workers in the area.

Meanwhile, Mass at Tanzi Catholic Church in Taichung will be held with worshipers required to wear a face mask, have their temperature checked, and hands disinfected upon entering the church, Filipino-American priest Father Joy Tajonera said.

The church will also live stream its mass services for the public to watch online.

St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Kaohsiung's Nanzih District will also implement disease preventive measures for its parishioners.

"(We ask everyone) to always wear a mask throughout the celebration and disinfect ... before entering the church and disinfect again upon leaving the church," chaplain Father Alemax Balagosa Bula said.

Holy Family Catholic Church in Tainan's Shanhua District will apply similar measures, according to the church's Father Leonilo Dolorito Mantilla.

There are a total of 157,487 Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan as of the end of January, according to the Ministry of Labor's statistics..

(By William Yen)

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