A sick woman holds a baby in this file photo. Naval Diocese in the Philippines says it has created a new ministry to address physical and psychological problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Sharlene Festin)
A Catholic diocese in the central Philippines has created a ministry specifically to address physical and psychological problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Naval Diocese in Biliran province announced the ministry’s creation on Feb. 11, the World Day of the Sick.
Bishop Rex Ramirez of Naval, who also heads the bishops' Commission on Healthcare, said in an interview with Veritas radio that it was the perfect occasion to launch the project.
He said he asked churchgoers in his diocese to work with government health offices to help the project along.
“Our diocese will collaborate with public health agencies in various programs wherein the sick would be given not only physical assistance but also spiritual accompaniment,” Bishop Ramirez said.
He said he had formed groups of churchgoers that would facilitate online consultations with medical practitioners.
Others were tasked with counseling those experiencing depression and other psychological ailments. A group was also tasked with feeding street children.
Bishop Ramirez said some efforts were not new in the diocese but they are now more organized and more churchgoers have joined the diocese’s mission.
“The feeding program is not new. This is being done at parish level. But now we have centralized it through our new diocese social action program,” Bishop Ramirez said.
The centralization of projects had brought direct supervision from the diocese that allows better planning and organization.
“Now, there will be oversight from the diocese, so this is the beginning of our healthcare ministry,” Bishop Ramirez said.
The diocese also urged churchgoers to join its program for the elderly who have been stuck in their homes for months since community lockdowns began.
“I hope many parishioners will respond to the call to join this ministry for the sick and the elderly, a call made by Pope Francis himself,” he said.
On Jan. 31, Pope Francis designated every fourth Sunday of July the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly.