Philippine Church launches Christmas collection for Typhoon Rai victims
By Lisa Zengarini
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has set December 25 and 26 as national days of prayer for families affected by super-typhoon Rai.
They are also encouraging dioceses across the country to hold collections at all Masses on Christmas Day and the following day for the victims.
“Let us please respond with generosity,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, CBCP president wrote in a message .
Collections will be remitted to the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the Philippine Caritas which is currently mobilizing relief work in the devastated areas.
The Catholic humanitarian arm of the Philippine Church has urged donations from parishioners in the spirit of the Christmas season.
“May this season of giving offer us more opportunities to do consistent acts of Alay Kapwa [offering of oneself], especially during this time of need,” a Facebook announcement reads.
208 dead and 490,000 displaced
Rai, locally known as “Odette”, intensified into a super-typhoon before making a landfall in the island of Siargao in Surigao del Norte province in Mindanao region on December 16 and sweeping Southern Leyte in the Visayas region.
With winds of up to 195 km, the typhoon killed at least 208 people, injured almost 2,500, and destroyed houses and infrastructure, displacing 490,000 people and leaving billions of pesos in damage. Experts compare its power to Haiyan, which hit the country in 2013, claiming more than 7,300 lives.
Several dioceses in the Visayas Islands were severely damaged by the typhoon. Many of the people affected are in desperate need of food, water, clothing, temporary shelter and medicines. Most of the road networks are cut off, so reaching the affected communities is extremely difficult.
During the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Philippine people asking for prayers and assistance for the victims.