ILIGAN CITY —– The Diocese of Iligan on Sunday (March 15) all liturgical celebrations in all parishes of the diocese.
Iligan Diocese, with ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Iligan City and the whole Lanao del Norte province, has 26 parish churches and 726 chapels.
“After much prayer and deliberation with some members of the Priests’ Council, the Clergy in the city and City Health Officers, I have decided with a heavy heart, to suspend indefinitely all liturgical celebrations starting tomorrow, March 15, 2020 for the whole diocese,” Bishop Jose Rapadas said in a statement.
“It is the moral obligation of the church to enjoin with government in preventing the spread of the virus,” Rapadas said.
The Bishop advised the public to continue praying and strengthen faith to God.
However, Father Edward Labadisos, the diocese chancellor, said the cathedral will remain open for the faithfuls to come and pray.
“The church is encouraging the people to just stay home and instead participate masses on television. The difference is, they cannot receive the holy communion but we have spiritual communion and respective parish priests will explain that to their people,” Labadisos said.
The first COVID-19 fatality in Northern Mindanao, referred to by the DOH as patient PH40, was first admitted at Adventist Medical Center in Iligan City on March 3 for having fever, cough and difficulty of breathing, symptoms that a person is infected with the virus.
On March 7, the hospital health workers observed, that PH40, who is from Lanao del Sur, did not respond to antibiotics.
He was transferred to NMMC on March 8 and was COVID-tested.
On March 11, the test resulted positive.
The DOH confirmed on Saturday he died evening of March 13.
Major Allan Abalde, chief of Iligan City Police Station 5, said regular Sunday masses of the St. Michael’s Cathedral normally draw up to 500 church goers in the morning and not less that a thousand in the afternoon to the last mass schedule at 8:00 in the evening.