BY JUDY PARTLOW
The reshuffling of the assignments of priests in the Diocese of Dumaguete, which was delayed due to the coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, will be announced in August during the Chrism Mass scheduled at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Dumaguete City.
The reshuffling was originally scheduled for announcement at the Chrism Mass during the Holy Week celebration in April and to take effect thereafter but postponed because of the enhanced community quarantine restrictions.
Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes said Wednesday that during the Chrism Mass on August 4, more than 100 priests, both from the diocese and from the religious congregations who are serving in the diocese, would also renew their priestly vows.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, liturgical celebrations in the Catholic Church had been pared down, postponed, innovated, or eliminated since the start of the quarantine restrictions. Pope Francis recommended moving the Chrism Mass to September in time for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Cortes said.
He, however, said the local ordinary (bishop or archbishop) has the option to choose a date suitable for their diocese, that will not run counter with government’s restrictions due to the coronavirus threat.
Cortes said that since the quarantine restrictions have already been eased up and masses are now allowed in churches with a 50-percent attendance, the Chrism Mass in Dumaguete will be held earlier than September to allow the priests to prepare for their transfer to their new assignments.
In the Diocese of Dumaguete, the reshuffling of priests’ assignments normally takes place every six years.
The Chrism Mass this year will fall on the Feast of St. John Marie Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.
Consultations have already been made for the new assignments of the priests, although the final decision lies with the bishop.
Cortes asked the lay faithful to welcome their new priests who are expected to arrive at their new assignments by middle through the end of August. He also thanked the parishioners for supporting their priests for the past six years.
“This Covid-19 pandemic was a painful journey for us priests because it was difficult for us to say mass without a congregation in attendance. In fact, some of the priests cried while offering a mass alone, especially during the ECQ where churches were shut down and parishioners were encouraged to attend mass online via live streaming or through radio or television to avoid the transmission of the disease,” Cortes said.*