Last Mass in Bacolod church brings people to tears
BACOLOD CITY—This city’s iconic Queen of Peace Parish church was filled with 1,000 parishioners attending Mass on Wednesday morning.
But it was not an ordinary Mass. While the atmosphere was solemn, it was sad as many of the parishioners were in tears.
The Mass was the last to be held at the parish church since it would cease to be a parish church and a diocesan shrine starting Wednesday, the feast of the church’s patroness, the Queen of Peace.
But Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon urged the faithful to make the “extraordinary celebration” as thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary “for all the graces she bestowed on us not only this year but for all the years since we became a parish under her patronage.”
Buzon kept his word when he issued a decree announcing that the Queen of Peace Parish church would no longer be a diocesan shrine starting May 31 following the diocese’s disagreement with the St. John Institute (SJI) board of trustees.
The announcement was read by chancellor Fr. Roy Gesulgon at the end of the last Mass officiated by the bishop, before many teary-eyed members of the congregation, some of whom came in black.
The bishop, in his decree, said that as a consequence of the closure of the Church, all Church services will be suspended.
In another decree, Gesulgon said the Queen of Peace Parish would temporarily be under the Redemptorist Shrine until a new parish church is built or established.
The church was built on May 9, 1966 by Chinese Catholic Apostolates to propagate the Catholic faith to the Chinese community of Bacolod City.
It was built inside the SJI campus, a Chinese school also known as Hua Ming.
Buzon, however, decided to withdraw from the church following a disagreement with the SJI board that wanted the church to be converted back into a school chapel and no longer a parish so it could focus on the needs of the school.
“If they want to reopen the doors to renegotiation no problem,” Buzon added.
Cesar Villanueva, SJI president, said they were saddened but they accepted and respected the decision of the bishop.
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