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Philippine diocese launches prayer app for Covid patients

'E-Pray' allows people in isolation to access spiritual guidance from priests during testing times

Philippine diocese launches prayer app for Covid patients

Novaliches Diocese in Manila has launched an app that allows people to connect with clergymen for spiritual accompaniment during their Covid-19 isolation. (Photo: Unsplash)

A diocese in the Philippines has launched an application called “E-Pray” that allows people to connect with clergymen for spiritual accompaniment during their Covid-19 isolation.

Novaliches Diocese in Manila said the app was developed by its social communications ministry in response to a recent spike in Covid cases in the Philippine capital.

On April 7, the Philippines had recorded a total of 819,164 Covid-19 cases with 14,059 deaths since the pandemic began. On that day alone, 6,414 new cases and 242 deaths were also recorded, down from a peak of 11,020 new cases earlier in the week.  

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“With this E-Pray app, Covid patients can communicate with our diocese for spiritual advice and counseling. We can also reach out to them by allowing them to send their prayer intentions to us,” the diocese said in an April 6 announcement on social media.

It’s a free web application where patients can type in their contact details so that priests can get in touch with them.

The diocese said communication is key to lessening the stress and anxiety felt by Covid patients.

“The pandemic has prevented churchgoers from accessing their priests and has deprived them of their spiritual life. During times when we feel like we are about to surrender, the presence of a priest is very important for guidance,” said Father Luciano Felloni, the diocese’s social communications director.

He said the internet must be maximized for the Catholic Church’s mission to be more alive and active during the pandemic.

“The problem [for sick Catholics] is that there is no direct contact because priests are not allowed to enter hospitals and quarantine facilities,” the priest added.

Father Filoni said one of the essential things for a sick person is faith in God.

Although clergymen cannot hear confession with the app, they can use it to pray for and with the sick, he said.

“We cannot offer at this point anointing of the sick … we also can’t offer confession. But what we can offer them is a priest to pray over and to guide them as they journey to recovery,” Father Felloni added.

Novaliches Diocese has assured the sick can reach a priest at any time — day or night.

“The platform will be manned by a number of volunteers who will put a sick person through to an available priest. We have enough priests and volunteers to make this work,” the diocese said.

Father Felloni said more than 30 clergymen have volunteered for the project, including one from New York in the United States.

“Let’s not allow any single patient to go without prayer, to go without being blessed by a priest. Let’s help in our little and very simple way. Let us help with the grace of prayer,” he added.

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