(Philippines). From 16 to 18 December 2021, typhoon RAI, locally called “Odette” and classified as a super typhoon of category 5, hit the south-central Philippines, with gusts of wind between 195 km/h and 270 km/h.
In its path on which there are 16 million people, it caused flooding, landslides, uncovered roofs, damaged schools, hospitals, gyms, offices, and destroyed entire crops. About 400 have died and more than 300,000 are displaced. In Cebu, one of the most populated cities, there is no electricity, no water, and communication is difficult, as the electricity poles and the repeaters have been blown down by the wind.
The typhoon hit some communities of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello (FIL): the three communities of Cebu, the most affected; two communities of the Negros Occidental Province; and the Community of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
In Cebu, the FMA have two schools: Mary Help of Christians School with more than a thousand students, Infancy, Primary, 1st and 2nd grade; and Mary Help of Christians Technical Institute for Women, with hundreds of students in technical courses and in Secondary school. Both schools suffered severe damage, with part of the roofs blown away. The window panes are shattered and water has entered the classrooms, the library, the laboratories, damaging computers, school supplies, and instruments. Many trees fell on the grounds of the Schools.
The homes of many school employees were also heavily damaged. The FMA hosted about thirty people and immediately committed themselves to helping the population and trying to clean up the schools.
In solidarity with the victims of the typhoon, the unaffected FMA communities canceled the Christmas celebrations to help those most in need. All the educating communities in the north, where the typhoon did not pass, are raising funds for food and water, and other basic necessities.
In the Salesian Family spirit, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians wish to bring concrete help to respond to the needs of these populations from whom the typhoon has taken everything away. It is urgent to contribute immediately to give them back a dignified life.
The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians collaborates in the mission in favor of populations in situations of hardship, counting on the generosity and solidarity of everyone.
It is possible to send contributions and offerings in the manner indicated on the Web Site of the FMA Institute, indicating the Philippine Emergency in the cause.
In this time of hope in which God draws near to share fragile human nature, prayer, and closeness are the first concrete helps that each one can offer:
“I express my closeness to the people of the Philippines hit by a strong typhoon, which destroyed many homes. May the Holy Child bring consolation and hope to the families most in difficulty; and inspire all of us to give concrete help! The first concrete help is prayer, and other helps” (Pope Francis, Angelus 19 December 2021).
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also invites the dioceses of the country to dedicate 25 and 26 December 2021, the Solemnity of Christmas and the Feast of St. Stephen, to prayer for the victims of Typhoon Odette.
There are at least ten dioceses heavily affected by the typhoon in the regions of Visayas and Mindanao. For this reason, the Bishop, Msgr. Pablo Virgilio David, President of the CBCP, urges Catholics to raise funds for the devastated communities. “Perhaps instead of spending a lot on sumptuous Christmas parties and exchanging gifts, we can put together what we are able and contribute to the rescue operations.”
Dioceses are also encouraged to have a second collection at all Eucharistic Celebrations on 25 and 26 December, for the relief operations of the Church led by Caritas Philippines.