Assistance programme earns plaudits

MANILA (UCAN): The Congregation of the Mission, popularly known as the Vincentians, received praise from Church authorities and lay faithful for distributing groceries and giving spiritual direction to Manila’s poorest residents during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Vincentian Father Geowen A. Porcincula, head of operations, explained that the aid is an offshoot of an assistance programme called Vincent Helps started by seminarians from Manila’s Saint Vincent Seminary, which was a response to the eruption of Taal Volcano in Batangas province, south of Manila, that killed 39 people earlier this year.

Fifty seminarians and priests visit Manila’s slums three times a week to distribute groceries and feed 3,300 squatter families who earn a living by scavenging among Manila’s garbage.

 “We (Vincent Helps) have distributed 13.9 million pesos ($2.11 million) worth of grocery packs, bread and food packs since the enhanced community quarantines began in March,” Father Porcincula said.

The congregation also processes the Blessed Sacrament through poor communities every Sunday and offers counselling to those affected by the hardships brought about by the pandemic.

 “We thank the Vincentian Fathers for this mission. Preferential option for the poor and social responsibility are core values of their congregation. Thank you, fathers for responding to God’s call during this pandemic,” Bishop Arturo Bastes, former chairperson of the Philippine bishops’ Commission on Mission, said.

 “We may not change the lives of these people (scavengers). But at least we let them know the Church cares for them. There are still many who care for the poor,” Monique Alarcon, a lay missionary, said.

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