Priests told to check structures after Bulacan church collapse

Priests told to check structures after Bulacan church collapse
Photo from San Jose del Monte Public Information Office

THE Diocese of Malolos has ordered all parish priests under its jurisdiction to examine their respective church buildings after the mezzanine of the St. Peter Apostle Parish Church in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan province collapsed in the middle of the Ash Wednesday rite on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

A parishioner was killed in the incident, while 55 others were injured.

“The City authorities are currently investigating the incident and the parish church is closed until further notice. I have also instructed all parish priests to check their parish structures considering the great number of faithful coming every year to Lenten celebrations,” said Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the Diocese of Malolos.

The affected and their families were being assisted by the parish priest Romulo Perez and his parochial vicar, Fr. Divino Cayanan, and by the Diocese of Malolos, said Villarojo.

“Officials of the City of San Jose del Monte and the Barangay of Tungkong Mangga also promptly responded to assist in the incident,” he added.

Mayor Arthur Robes identified the fatality as Luneta Morales, an 80-year-old grandmother and a member of the church choir, who died at the hospital.

“We pray for the eternal repose of the faithful departed and we offer our sincere condolences and assurance of assistance to the family. As we pray for healing and consolation to all those affected, we invoke the consoling motherly care of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the steadfast faith of St. Peter,” Vallarojo said.

Robes also reported that the injured churchgoers have returned home after having their wounds cleaned and prescribed medicine.

“Some others are under observation,” said Robes, who personally went to the area to assess the situation.

San Jose del Monte is located in Central Luzon, 47 kilometers away from the capital Manila.

Videos of the tragedy posted on social media showed chaotic scenes of people who were screaming and crying as they made their escape from the crumbling mezzanine.

“The local government has also covered all the medical expenses of the injured in the incident,” said Robes.

Authorities have also conducted clearing operations in the area.

Meanwhile, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Gina Ayson said the injured victims suffered only minor bruises.

“The church structure is somewhat old but it has undergone past renovations. The same goes for the church's mezzanine area,” said Ayson in a report from state-owned media PNA.

She said the mezzanine’s floor was made of wood, which might have collapsed due to the large number of churchgoers occupying the second-floor area.

Various media reports said about 400 people attended the mass inside the St. Peter Apostle Parish Church, which was established in 1994.

Speaking to reporters, Ayson said the building officials discovered that a portion of the collapsed structure was infested with termites.

Ash Wednesday is one of the busiest days in the Catholic Church’s calendar as it marks the start of Lent. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)


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