Archbishop's Words of Thanks to Pope in Tacloban

«The suffering of our people defied imagination. Yet in the midst of pain and suffering it was our Christian faith that helped us through»

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Here are words of thanks given by Archbishop John F. Du at the end of a Mass celebrated today by Pope Francis in Tacloban, site of the 2013 typhoon.

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Praised be Jesus Christ!

Most Holy Father, I would never have imagined that I would be able to say these words in this very place, in front of Your Holiness and in the presence of so many pilgrims. We are on Yolanda “ground zero”. In this very place where we are standing, on that fateful day of November 8, 2013 aside from the more than 300 kilometers per hour of howling winds, storm surges of over six meters in height crushed over the place destroying thousands of homes and killing an innumerable number of people. Many bodies were even washed ashore to the other side of the city across the Cancabato Bay. The suffering of our people defied imagination. Yet in the midst of pain and suffering it was our Christian faith that helped us through. The prayers, solidarity and the material help from many people from all over the world that came the following days boosted our drooping spirits and inspired us to move on.

And this is why your presence here inspires me to give praise to God, who, out of untold catastrophe has gifted us with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come as one with you in joyful thanksgiving. Our deep appreciation for your presence here in the Archdiocese of Palo can hardly be expressed with words. Let our unity then, on this blessed day, in this hallowed place, be the supreme manifestation of a faith that inspires one to thank God and to rejoice always even amidst trials and tribulations (cf. Rom 5:3-5).

We are deeply filled with joy and consolation that you have celebrated this Eucharist with us- this great act of thanksgiving to God which is a constant source of strength and fount of hope in our Christian life. We know that you have been with us all this time, and your coming here culminates the great outpouring of spiritual and material assistance from the Church for us.

Your Holiness, you have come to us with a father’s compassion and loving concern, and thus have brought us to God the Father of All. You have also come as a shepherd of the Lord’s flock and thus have brought us closer to the Good Shepherd Himself. Your visit strengthens and consoles us; may your humble presence among the poor and among us who have suffered the tragedy of the Super Typhoon ever lead us to the restful waters of God’s mercy and love. We will always be grateful! For indeed, as the Psalmist says “…the Lord will not abandon His People, nor will He forsake His inheritance” (Ps. 94:14).

Blessed be God forever!

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