Priest is caught up in virus crisis

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Our Lady of the Southern Cross Fr Francis Constatine
Camera IconOur Lady of the Southern Cross Fr Francis Constatine Credit: Picture:

Our Lady of the Southern Cross parish priest Father Francis Constantino is stranded in Manila amid COVID-19 international flight restrictions.

The Philippines-born priest returned to his homeland to care for his sick mother and to perform a wedding ceremony before international flight restrictions were enforced.

This week, Father Francis told the Times it was his original hope to become an organ donor for his mother’s kidney transplant, but he had been forced to stay hours away from metro Manila in a friend’s unit due to government restrictions.

“Every single day is a struggle for myself and my family — my siblings cannot work so I am sending more money to my mother for medication. I struggle to find the next flight to go back to Australia,” he said.

Parishioners received phone calls this week from Father Francis apologising that he could not perform Mass during the pandemic.

Father Francis has set up a Dunsborough Parish Facebook page to share online Mass resources and links.

“I hope that everyone has been able to join some of the television and online celebrations of the Eucharist, especially through Holy Week and Easter,” he said. Metropolitan Manila and nearby municipalities are locked down in what the government is calling an enhanced community quarantine which has been extended to May 15.

“I have no place to stay in Manila and no food to eat as everyone was panic buying food, water, masks, alcohol, sanitisers and toilet paper,” he said. “Poor people are on the streets protesting a lack of food and no support from the Government. The Philippines has still a long way to go to flatten the curve. The rates of confirmed cases are increasing every day.”

Father Francis is in discussions with the Australian Embassy in Manila to organise a flight home.

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