The implementation of physical distancing has been difficult in commemorating Ash Wednesday in Baclaran Church, amid increasing numbers of people allowed within the churches.
The 1-meter distance was lost when a series of devotees approached to be sprinkled with ashes in front of the church building after the first mass, this Wednesday morning.
The reminders of other volunteers were no longer heard.
This is the second year of contactless Ash Wednesday at church.
But according to Fr. Victorino Cueto, rector of Baclaran Church, it was a challenge amid the health protocols being implemented.
“‘Yong mga iba din, talagang gustong mauna sa pila. Siguro gutom na, ayaw maghintay. Kaya ‘yan ang isang malaking-malaking challenge talaga – magpanatili ng physical distancing – dahil pinoprotektahan natin ang bawat isa,” he said.
It was a new experience for some churchgoers like Omar Vargas and his friends who cycled from Merville, Parañaque to church.
“‘Yong pagpunta namin, ‘di namin expected na ganoon ang gagawin. So, nanibago lang talaga. Sa tingin ko kasi, parang mas safe siya kasi hindi mo ita-touch sa ano. ‘Yon lang, na-touch mo pa rin ‘yong abo. Pero normally, wala naman,” he said.
Physical distancing difficult amid celebration of Ash Wednesday at Baclaran Church
The number of churchgoers reached a capacity of 3,000 people, especially on the first week of implementation of 50-percent capacity in religious places.
The queue of those standing outside the building has reached the gate because the 1,500 sitting and standing capacity inside has been filled.
Baclaran Church has added more than 50 volunteers to help organize, provide communion, and sprinkle ashes.
So there are up to 100 volunteers for Ash Wednesday.
“Daloy ng tao ang pinakamalaking challenge, dahil ‘’yong mga protocols — pagsuot ng facemask, face shield, pagkuha ng temperatura, paglalagay ng temperatura, ginagawa naman natin bago pumasok ng church. ‘Yon lang kapag nasa loob na ang mga tao, mas maging conscious sa distansya amigo, amiga, ‘Yon talaga ang malaking challenge,” said Cueto.
The Baclaran Church is open until night but its leadership recommended that others in nearby parishes simply pick up do-it-yourself or packaged ashes.