The hunger for the sacraments has become more pressing among the Catholic faithful during the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The suspension of religious celebrations, however, did not prevent a Catholic priest in the central Philippine province of Leyte from caring for his flock.
Father Amadeo Corpuz Alvero of the St. Isidore the Worker parish knocks on the doors of the faithful to offer the sacrament of reconciliation and communion.
The priest decided to go around his parish because people continue to go to church for confession and communion despite warnings from authorities.
“I told them not to come and to stay at home and join the online celebration of Mass,” said Father Alvero, adding that making the Act of Contrition would suffice for confession during the lockdown.
“Still they come and ask for confession,” said the priest. “At first I obliged,” he admitted. He heard confessions in secret inside the church’s sacristy before celebrating Mass.
“Then people learned about it and many came for confession,” said Father Alvero.
One time, a parishioner came to say that it is different to personally receive the Body of Christ and to confess through a priest compared to praying online.
It was the turning point for Father Alvero.
He decided to bring the Body of Christ to every home and to bring God’s forgiveness to those who asked for it.
On March 30, the priest started visiting the homes of his parishioners who sent a request online for confession.
After two weeks, the priest has been hearing confessions around the parish from 8:30 in the morning until 6 o’clock in the evening.
He would go around the parish and knock on doors offer the Body of Christ for communion.
“These extraordinary times strengthened the people’s need to receive the Body of Christ,” noted Father Alvero.
He said that the faithful also seemed to have established a strong faith in the forgiveness of sins through confession.
Parishioner Jenneth de la Cruz said it’s difficult to hear Mass online “and much more to not receive communion” on Sundays.
“I am very thankful and lucky that despite of our current situation, [Father Alvero] takes time to come and visit us,” said the 41-year-old De la Cruz.
“I felt that God is always guiding us and that our faith in Him will always be there,” she said.
The parish priest also visits the sick and participates in the distribution of food aid to poor areas in his parish.
“The role of the Church is to pray for the people, to be with them in their suffering, and to extend help in whatever way we can,” said Father Alvero.
“Doing these, I feel that I am doing what Christ wants me to do,” he said, adding that people not only hunger for food during the pandemic but also hunger for “spiritual communal activities.”
He said that during trying times, the Church should take “extra effort to face the challenge to make extraordinary care, love, and service to the people.”