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Fire hits pilgrimage shrine, funds needed for repairs

Photo from Bishop Alminaza

The Diocese of San Carlos has started a drive to raise funds for the repair of the historical pilgrimage Shrine and Parish Church of St Vincent Ferrer in Barangay Vito, Sagay City in Negros Occidental that was hit by fire at 11 p.m. Friday, July 9.

The left side of the altar was hit by the fire and the estimated cost of the damage is from P50,000 to P100,000, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said Sunday, July 11.

“A spark coming from an unplugged overheated amplifier used in all three masses on Fridays as part of the popular devotion of the faithful and pilgrims to this very historical shrine and center of faith and devotion to St Vincent Ferrer may have caused this fire that partially damaged the left side of the altar when one is facing it,” he said.

This is where the sacred books and vessels used for the Eucharist as well as the church sound system are kept. The fire passed through the electrical wire and also partially burned the ceiling, Alminaza said.

The Sagay City government website describes the Church a pilgrims place and one of the historical landmarks of the city established by the Recollect friars in 1860.

The faithful flock to the Church every Friday in fulfillment of their “Panaad”’ or promise to the patron saint. “Palapak”, a religious ritual placing San Vicente
Ferrer’s more than a century-old wooden image on different parts of the body with aliment for healing has been practiced for many years, it said.

“Answered prayers and miraculous healing have been attributed by the faithful to their vow of devotion to the patron saint,” it added.

Pana-ad kang San Vicente Ferrer is celebrated every first week of May

They are grateful there was no casualty and religious services can still continue in the Shrine according to Fr Joseph Tubiera, the parish priest and his parochial vicar, Fr Antonio Brasona Jr., Alminaza said.

“We thank the people who first saw the fire and alerted the parish personnel and all those who helped put out the fire together with the Escalante City Fire Station who were quick to respond to our call,” the bishop said.

“This unfortunate incident offers both our parish and shrine communities to bond together in rebuilding and strengthening both our church structures and relationships, that is, even bring our faithful and pilgrims closer together towards becoming a truly synodal Church – inclusive, participatory and helping one another, making sure that no one is left out or left behind,” Alminaza added.

For any help or assistance in restoring the shrine and parish church, those interested may coordinate either with the parish and shrine office in Vito, Sagay or with the Stewardship and Philanthropic Development Office at the Bishop’s Home Compound, San Julio Subdivision, San Carlos City, that can be reached at 09288320743 or by email at [email protected], Alminaza said.

Donations can be made to account number 121-7-12153570-6 with the account name Roman Catholic Bishop of San Carlos at the Metrobank San Carlos City Branch, San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, and by Gcash at 0945-459-1688 – Roman Catholic Bishop of San Carlos, he added.*

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