CALBAYOG CITY, Nov. 13 (PNA) — A Filipino Xaverian missionary in Madina, Sierra Leone, one of the countries hit by the deadly Ebola virus, will not flee from the West African country.
In his Facebook account, Fr. Anthony Patrick Santianez, a native of Samar province, posted his reaction to the call of the Philippine government asking Filipinos in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for voluntary repatriation.
“My answer is No. I will stay here in Sierra Leone. I am still convinced that this is not a moment to leave this country,” Santianez said.
The priest said he is inspired by a passage in John 10:12, which says: “A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep when the sheep is under attack, but lays down his life for the sheep if necessary.”
In an interview, Santianez admitted that he is afraid of the virus.
“Yes, I admit I am afraid. Who is not afraid of this virus. But I don’t allow the fear to control me. Yes, Ebola is a deadly virus but there are ways that you can protect yourself from it. I came to Sierra Leone to serve,” he told PNA.
As a means of protection, he practices the ABC of Ebola, which is ‘Avoid Body Contact.’
The Filipino priest exercises extra caution when shaking hands and hugging people. And during communion, people need to take the holy bread with their hands not through their mouth.
He also makes sure to wash his hands after distributing food packs and other needs to people under quarantine.
The missionary priest recalled that in their parish in St. Conforti, there were 50 people who died from Ebola and only two survived. As of October 31, about 1,064 people died of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
He added that in case he gets the virus, he wants to be treated in Sierra Leone.
“My presence here (Sierra Leone)
Will not cure those people who have ebola. My presence here will not make dead people of ebola alive again. My reason for remaining here in Sierra Leone is to be with our people, to continue to give them hope, and to assure them that their fear and tears are just ephemeral. Ebola will come to an end, soon,” he said.
He asked the whole world to pray for them that the virus will be kicked out soon in west africa and other parts of the world.
Santianez has been serving in Sierra Leone for six years now as a missionary. He studied theology at the Ateneo de Manila University on June 24, 2008. (PNA)