Pope Francis held an emotional meeting with the family of a volunteer who died yesterday in a tragic accident following the Holy Father’s Mass in Tacloban yesterday. Strong winds from an approaching tropical storm cut the Pope’s visit to the area most affected by Typhoon Haiyan short by four hours.
Kristel Padasas, a 27 year old volunteer for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), died shortly after the Holy Father departed Tacloban International airport, when she was struck by a piece of scaffolding at the site of the Papal Mass.
In a statement released by CRS, the young volunteer was remembered for her work in helping those most affected by the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013.
“Kristel was based in Samar and worked on a recovery project for typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda,” the statement read. “Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS. She traveled a great distance to volunteer at today’s papal mass and to remember the victims of typhoon Haiyan.”
The Pope prayed for Padasas during today’s youth meeting at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, announcing her death to those present and calling for prayers. “She worked for the organization and preparation for that very Mass,” he said.
“She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services. She was a volunteer. I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our Mom, Mother Mary in Heaven.”
The Holy Father led the over 300,000 youth in praying the Hail Mary for the deceased volunteer.
Private Meeting with Family
Following the meeting with youth, Pope Francis returned to the Apostolic Nunciature where he met privately with the father and cousin of the deceased volunteer.
In a statement sent by Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, the CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light network and English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office, the meeting was an emotional moment for all.
“It was a very moving meeting and Cardinal Tagle served as interpreter. On the table were two beautiful photos of the young woman as a young girl with her parents. The father said that he was shocked but he was consoled to know that his daughter had been able to prepare the event that allowed so many people in Tacloban to meet with the Pope,” the statement read.
The Pope tried to reach the young woman’s mother in Hong Kong but was unable to do so since the mother was en route from Hong Kong to the Philippines and would only arrive tomorrow.