It is only 3 weeks since the Super Typhoon Haiyan caused devastation in The Philippines and almost 3 years since unrest began in Syria, leading to one of the deadliest civil wars in decades.
In response to these events, Bishop Michael Smith launched a Church appeal to take place in each of the 69 parishes in the Diocese of Meath.
“Just as the scale of these tragedies is enormous, so too the generosity of people has been extraordinary” Bishop Smith explains. “With less than four weeks to go to Christmas, it is clear that people’s sympathy for the victims in The Philippines in particular is not dampened by their own domestic needs”.
On Friday 5 December 2013, it was reported by Bishop Smith’s office that 60 parishes have already returned a total of € 274,968.00. Fundraising events, such as non uniform days in schools, are planned for a number of the 9 parishes that have not yet completed their returns.
Bishop Smith is very grateful to all who have played a part in the fundraising appeal, from children to the elderly, clergy and lay people. He wishes to assure the public that every cent is accounted for and destined as intended.
The Bishop explained that donations received to date have already been distributed in order to maximise their effect. The amount of €224,768 was sent directly to the Typhoon Response Office of the Archdiocese of Manila in The Philippines in two separate transactions while the remaining €50,000 was assigned to the Church agency Trocáire’s work among the victims of the Syrian civil war. Any remaining donations will also be sent by Bishop Smith to The Philippines.
The Catholic Archbishop of Manila in The Philippines, Cardinal Luis Tagle, has thanked the people of the Diocese of Meath for their great generosity. He explained that “the humanitarian response is now moving forward from relief work to rehabilitation work, then soon hopefully to developmental programs. At this point, different agencies of government and the Church are looking into laying out plans for the rehabilitation of the affected areas. Rebuilding of houses, schools, hospitals and churches are some of the primary concerns.”
To date, the Archdiocese of Manila distributed more than 100,000 relief food bags to victims of the super typhoon in the provinces of Samar and Leyte. “This effort is only the beginning. While people’s immediate needs must be met, in the longer term, we must ensure that we are with the people of The Philippines as they try to rebuild their lives.” Bishop Smith explains.
The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan rose to 5,719 with 26,233 injured, and 1,779 still missing. According to the Church “there are about 1.7 million people in several provinces in the central part of the country who still need basic provisions”.
Local priest Father Amadeo Alvero said an ecumenical funeral service will be held for all victims of the disaster on 8 December 2013. He said a corner in all parishes will be prepared where people can write the names of all those who perished in the disaster. Memorial services will also be held at the mass graves.
The photos feature a visit of Cardinal Tagle to one of the typhoon areas on 28 November 2013.