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Makati parish in hot water for high wedding rates

MANILA (UCAN): A barrage of social media posts has condemned Santuario de San Antonio parish in the exclusive Forbes Park village in the Makati business district, in Metro Manila, for raising its rates for weddings from around $6,000 to $9,800. The new rates were presented at the parish’s first wedding congress on March 15.
Most churches in the Philippines charge a wedding fee of about $783 to $3,100. Special discounts are also given to parishioners, or if couples decide to hold their wedding on a weekday. Air-conditioned churches charge extra to cover electricity and other operational costs.
Santuario de San Antonio parish has slots for 936 weddings each year, which  means that for every $7830 wedding, the parish gets potentially around $7.32 million or about 48.6 million pesos a year.
The parish also announced that it would raise annual accreditation fees for wedding planners, florists, musicians, videographers and photographers.
It also planned to charge wedding planners an annual accreditation fee of as much as $7,830, while photographers and videographers would be charged at least $4,500.
Wedding blogger and photographer, Dominic Barrios, called the new rates excessive. He said those getting married in the church will be burdened because they will pay for the suppliers.
The parish priest, Franciscan Father Reu Jose Galoy, immediately withdrew the new rates following the hail of criticism.
“We apologize if the regulations and the rates caused you all concern as it was never our intention to do so,” the priest said in a statement released by the parish.
He said that “while we feel the regulations ... were fair and well thought out, we now realise that they should be considered a work in progress rather than the final product.”
In 2014, Pope Francis rapped priests and lay people who turn their parishes into businesses by charging for baptisms, blessings and Mass intentions.
As recently as March 7, the pope spoke disapprovingly of the trend to ask parishioners for a financial contribution in order to have Mass said for a loved one. 
“The Mass is not paid for, redemption is free. If you want to make an offering okay, but the Mass cannot be paid for,” he said.
Father Galoy said the parish would review the concerns raised and consider all suggestions to arrive at “a sensible set or rules that would address the interests of all concerned.” 

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