PORAC, Pampanga -- Dozens of Roman Catholic faithful attended a Thanksgiving Mass at the Babo Sacan Covered Court, a few meters from the rubble of the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket, and proceeded to join the procession that led in front of the heavily damaged Saint Catherine Parish Church.
The mass was to pray for the ongoing rescue efforts and for the victims of the recent 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Pampanga.
The activities were attended by victims and survivors of the earthquake in Porac town.
After the mass, the people joined the procession of the image of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which passed by near Chuzon rubble and stopped in front of the heavily damaged 19th-century Baroque church located in Barangay Poblacion.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church sustained severe damage to its belfry. Only the first floor of the four-story belfry remains, while part of the rubble fell on the nave of the church, causing further damage.
The procession of the town's patron saint, on board a flowerless carroza, made a brief stop in front of the Church. Some parishioners were seen crying and obviously moved by the tragedy that befell their town and beloved parish church.
"I could not believe what happened to the church. I have been attending masses here since I was a child. Some of our relatives were also in Chuzon (Supermarket) so this is just overwhelming," 67-year-old Susan Lansangan said.
Church services in the old-church have been suspended pending ongoing assessment evaluations.
National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairman Rene Escalante visited Porac on Tuesday, April 23, with a team of heritage conservation and restoration experts to assess the damage to the church.
Masses and processions were also held in some barangays of Porac.