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AC heritage church off limits for a year

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(Yellow ribbon prevents local folk from danger of falling debris from the heritage Holy Rosary parish church in Angeles City’s old downtown area. Crack is evident in the church after the April 22 earthquake. Photo by Ding Cervantes)

ANGELES CITY- Thousands of Catholics here will have to attend religious services elsewhere after their parish priest declared yesterday that the heritage Holy Rosary parish church could not be used for at least a year because of damage caused by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake last April 22.

Fr. Francis Dizon told Punto! that the church, founded on October 18, 1877 and known to the Kaapampangan faithful as Pisambang Maragul (literally big church) sustained “critical damages” in its “two pillars, several windows’ concrete frames, deep cracks in several walls, and hairline cracks in the ceiling.”

“It will be closed for rehabilitation and restoration for a year or so,” he said, adding that engineering experts would present the rehabilitation plan on May 11.

“We will make it stronger and more beautiful,” Dizon stressed.

He said that in the meantime, Sunday Masses are to be held at the nearby Holy Family Academy covered court, while daily Masses at the parish hall.

The foundations of the church were first laid out on October 18, 1877 by local folk led by Don Mariano V. Henson but its construction was pursued by the Spaniards under a scheme of forced and unpaid labor of male Filipinos aged 16–65. Its completion as it stands today, however, was in 1909.

Twenty-four heritage churches in Pampanga were declared unsafe since the earthquake last April 22, but there has been no word yet from the San Fernando Archdiocese on whether some have been opened for services.

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