Catholic churches in the Philippines have been opened to people affected by a super typhoon that hit the country on Nov. 1.
“Let us join our prayers with action, especially in welcoming to our churches and homes, if we can, our brothers and sisters who need evacuation shelter at this time,” said Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi in his message to the priests and the faithful in his diocese.
In a pastoral letter Archbishop Rolando Tirona of Caceres enjoined priests and religious communities to hold a prayer vigil “to spare our people and mother nature from further sufferings and pain.”
“Should need arise, let us once again open our churches, chapels, schools, for evacuees and provide assistance for them,” said Archbishop Gilbert Garcera of Lipa in a circular letter.
“I am requesting all priests to offer prayers and Masses to spare our people and our region from further suffering and destruction,” said the prelate.
He also asked his priests to particularly assist the poor and the elderly.
In the Diocese of Daet, Bshop Rex Andrew Alarcon also instructed the clergy to be prepared to accommodate evacuees in churches.
The Catholic Church’s social action office has already placed all its people on “high alert” as they prepare for stocks of emergency assistance.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines, said rapid assessments are on standby to determine the scale of the response needed.
“Caritas is ready to send fund assistance if and when needed by the dioceses damaged by this typhoon,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
He said almost all dioceses are ready with their disaster plans.
Super Typhoon Goni
As of early morning on Sunday, state weather forecaster (PAGASA) raised Typhoon Signal No. 5, the highest tropical cyclone wind signal, over several parts of the Bicol region.
Typhoon Goni (local name: Rolly) strengthened into a super typhoon at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 1, as it made landfall in Bato town, Catanduanes province, at 4:50 a.m.
It carried maximum sustained winds of 225 km/h and gustiness of up to 280 km/h.
“Within the next 12 hours, catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall associated with the region of the eyewall and inner rainbands will be experienced over (the provinces of) Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, the northern portion of Sorsogon, and the central and southern portions of Quezon,” read a bulletin from the weather bureau.
“This a particularly dangerous situation for these areas,” it added.