Fr. Kim Margallo, priest in charge of St. Josemaria Escriva Mission Station in Tacloban City, celebrates an open air Mass on Sept. 13.

Philippines: Leyte Church Offers ‘Drive-in’ Mass Amid Pandemic

Interview with Father Kim Margallo

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By Ryan Christopher J. Sorote, CBCP News

From atop of a makeshift platform on Sunday, Father Kim Margallo surveyed his parishioners, gathered in about 25 cars below in a church parking lot.

The priest was holding Mass in the drive-in for Catholics who have been unable to attend the traditional church service because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the increasing cases of Covid-19 in Eastern Visayas, he said people are afraid to go to Mass for fear of contracting the virus.

As of Monday, the Health Department reported 67 new cases of Covid-19 in the region, bringing the total number of cases to 3,826, with 695 active cases.

“I think it was the right time, with the Covid-19 cases rocketing in our (Tacloban) city, people are afraid to go out,” said Fr. Margallo of St. Josemaria Escriva Mission Station.

He said the idea came a few weeks after the pandemic broke out to give faithful the chance to attend Mass from the safety of their cars.

Archbishop John Du of Palo has earlier encouraged priests to “initiate creative evangelization and pastoral ministering in our parishes” amid the health crisis.

“I made the initiative to let the people attend the mass in such a way so they can still continue to attend the Holy Eucharist as a family inside their cars,” Fr. Margallo said.

He stressed that it is part of the roles of the Church to innovate new ways to bring the sacraments to people, yet following the norms and not violating restrictions.

“During the communion, the attendees of the Mass stay inside the car. They will just roll down their window and a lay minister will go to them to distribute the communion,” he said.

The priest added that the drive-in Mass will continue for the meantime but clarified that the proper place of worship is in the church.

“Even if we have our mass online streamed there is no best substitute to attend a celebration of the Eucharist physically,” Fr. Margallo added.

In May, the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, also in Tacloban City, started a “parish mobile confessional” to bring the sacraments to the people, especially the elderly and the sick.

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