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Typhoon-hit areas remember Francis

(The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis has left an indelible mark in the hearts of millions of Filipinos, with memories of his visit a year ago still vivid particularly among victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

The Argentine pontiff made his first trip to the country from Jan. 15 to 19, carrying the message of “Mercy and Compassion,” the theme of his visit.

He ignored warnings of another approaching typhoon and proceeded with his visit to Tacloban, Leyte to comfort victims of Typhoon Yolanda, saying they were the main reason he went to the Philippines.

The pontiff was visibly disappointed that he had to rush the events and cut short the visit to avoid Typhoon Amang, which was forecast to hit Tacloban in the afternoon.

Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio, who at the time was rector of St. John the Evangelist School of Theology (SJEST) in Palo and vice chairman of the archdiocesan papal visit secretariat, remarked that the message of the pope’s visit “should always be remembered.”

He encouraged the people of Palo to “collaborate efforts so that we will not forget the essence of the visit of the Holy Father.”

“The people, especially of Taclobanons, should always remember that the pope visited the victims of Yolanda and risked the danger posed by Typhoon Amang at that time.”

The pope had to cut short his trip to the province because of Amang.

He said it was also the first time that the pope said mass in a raincoat as he risked the danger of the typhoon just to fulfill his promise to be with Yolanda victims.

“We could see so much of the humanity of the Holy Father in his visit. We could sense the greater importance of reality over ideas or the abstract,” the bishop said.

For Angelo Nikko Brosas, fourth year theology student at SJEST and a Yolanda survivor, the pope’s visit reinvigorated and strengthened the virtue of hope in him, which, in turn, became “a beacon to others, my fellow survivors.”

Brosas described the visit as a challenge for him to be more concerned about people whom he now serves.

He was among the survivor seminarians who had a close encounter with the pontiff during his lunch at the archbishop’s residence in Palo last year.

Ofelia Zamora, a catechist, viewed the papal visit as an occasion for relatives to be reunited regardless of religious affiliations and for the people to change for good and embrace Catholicism again. – Evelyn Macairan

ACIRC CEBU AUXILIARY BISHOP OSCAR JAIME FLORENCIO EVELYN MACAIRAN FOR ANGELO NIKKO BROSAS HOLY FATHER MERCY AND COMPASSION PALO TYPHOON AMANG TYPHOON YOLANDA VISIT YOLANDA
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