MANILIA, Philippines — The Manila Archdiocese has begun construction of Asia’s first-ever exorcism center to address what it says is a growing number of possessions in the Philippines and to train budding exorcists in the region.

Building work on the St. Michael Center for Spiritual Liberation and Exorcism began June 6 in the capital’s Makati business district, reported.

“This religious structure will be the first of its kind in Asia, if not the world. The center will house the Archdiocese of Manila Commission on Extraordinary Phenomena, the Ministry of Exorcism Office, the Ministry on Visions and Phenomena Office, and will serve as the headquarters of the Philippine Association of Catholic Exorcists (PACE),” the archdiocese said in a Facebook post.

PACE is a group of Catholic exorcist priests that falls under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and is affiliated with the International Association of Exorcists based in Rome.

Father José Francisco Syquia, the archdiocese’s chief exorcist, leads the project.

“This center will minister to those in bondage to the devil who are therefore the poorest of the poor and are usually overlooked,” he said.

Syquia said a rising number of demonic possession cases led the archdiocese to undertake the project.

“We’ve had a sharp increase in cases in the past three to five years,” Syquia wrote in a 2021 article without giving an estimated number.

The center will include a chapel dedicated to Mary, named as the Our Lady of the Angels.

Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila and Father Syquia led the groundbreaking ceremony for the center in May.

Church officials said they hope the center will attract priests from across Asia to study and to train how to be exorcists.