BENGHAZI, Libya, Dec. 15, 2014—A Filipino priest based in the Libyan city of Benghazi shares that due to the ongoing conflict between Islamists and government forces in the Muslim country, the faithful there, composed mostly of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), have no other choice, but to celebrate Mass at the chapel of a hospital where they have taken refuge for over a month now.
In an interview, Franciscan missionary Fr. Amado Baranquel told CBCP News that bombing operations continue every now and then in the area, making it impossible and dangerous for Catholics to hold regular Eucharistic celebrations at the nearby Maria Immacolata Catholic Church.
Given their situation, the priest laments “Simbang Gabi” and succeeding Masses have to be celebrated inside the Benghazi Children’s Hospital until further notice.
“We’re praying that the war end soon. It has already caused us a lot of stress. We feel as though we are under house arrest here. We can’t move about freely,” he said.
Baranquel, who was in the country last 2012, expresses hope he could come home to the Philippines next year in time for the Pope’s visit.
The Bicolano Franciscan from Daraga, Albay has been doing mission work in Libya since 1995.
“Please pray for us always,” Baranquel said. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)