After 204 yrs, Ilocos town church shuts doors for good
PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte—The 204-year-old St. Anne parish church in Piddig town in Ilocos Norte province was decommissioned on Sunday after engineering experts from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) declared the church unfit for occupancy.
Laoag Bishop Renato Mayugba officiated the last Mass in the church and led the closure rites on Sunday.
Mayugba said there was no need to wait for another earthquake, like the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that toppled old churches in Bohol province last year, before closing the church that had been a witness to the growth of faith among Piddigueños and the town’s neighboring communities.
But the bishop said he was hoping that the church’s closure would be temporary as he asked parishioners to pray and work together for its possible restoration.
On Sunday, hundreds of churchgoers from Piddig and its neighboring towns attended the last Mass at the church before its official decommissioning at 8:30 a.m.
Fr. Joey Ranjo, spokesperson of the Diocese of Laoag, said the church would remain closed even for other church rites, like baptism, weddings and burial.
Ranjo said the old building would be kept for its historical value but be declared off limits.
Piddig residents said the church would remain a part of their community because the structure was a witness to every Catholic’s rite—from birth to death—in this town.
“Only time will tell when the church gets restored. This is a sad event in our lives because the St. Anne Parish church had been a witness to the rich history of our town and its people, including a part of our nation’s history,” said Mario Tejada, a Piddig resident.
A temporary structure was built in the St. Anne parish compound as parishioners await the construction of a new church.
The St. Anne parish was founded by the Augustinians in 1810.
During the Philippine-American War, a five-member team of Filipino guerrillas used the church as a base to repel American attacks.
An earthquake toppled the top section of the bell tower on March 19, 1932, but this was repaired.
During the Japanese occupation, the convent and the sacristy were burned leading to the destruction of its parish records. The church’s facade and its interior were restored in 1965.
The convent was later repaired and converted into a parochial school, church records showed. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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