Fr Gus O’Driscoll SMA reports on the start of the pre-dawn Novena of Masses leading up to Christmas which began on Monday, 16 December. He also gives an update on the situation in Tacloban / Leyte following the Typhoon.
December 16 marks a significant date each year for the church in the Philippines, with the beginning of the pre-dawn Novena of Masses – ‘Misa de Gallo’ / ‘Simbang Gabi’. We continue with this tradition, and so this morning, with the assistance of priests from our House of Formation, we celebrated 6 masses in our parish church and chapels – two at 4am, two at 4.30am and two more at 5.15am. Delivering a homily at that hour of the morning is pretty challenging, but the packed attendance and great singing, gives one energy for the liturgy. We hope we can sustain these levels of energy for the coming 9 days!!
Update on the aftermath of the typhoon
Fr. German returned from his home-town on Saturday night, having spent the week with his family and neighbours for the relief operation (another truck with relief goods left our parish yesterday).
He said the place is coming back to life. When he first reached home 4 weeks ago, he met an eerie silence and total shock. Now people are laughing again, and there is noise, especially from the jeepneys plying the roads with passengers, now mostly cleared of debris. And chain-saws are in great demand, cutting up the thousands of trees knocked in the storm, and using the timber as building material, albeit of a temporary nature until more durable materials become available in the new year.
He spoke of the grief and sadness that some families suffered. One afternoon, he went with his mother to visit her younger sister. Normally very jovial, she was still traumatized, having lost two daughters, a son-in-law, and 6 grandchildren. He met people he went to school with, who lost many members of their families. One former classmate, now a doctor, was on duty in the hospital when the typhoon struck.
When she got back to her home, now destroyed, she did not find her family; up to 15 members of family and extended family perished. How does one pick up life again?
But he says he now feels more at peace with the situation, and sees new hope among the people.
Let us continue to keep them all in prayer, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour.
To help our work in Leyte click here and then choose Philippines Disaster Fund. 100% of your donation will go to buy food, water, tents etc for people in the Holy Family and Our Lady, Queen of Angels parishes. Thank You!