Faith keeps Yolanda survivors going — priest

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Fr. Kelvin Apurillo walks through the mass grave in front of his parish church in San Joaquin, Palo Leyte. (Roy Lagarde)

PALO, Leyte, November 3, 2014–Prayers, faith in God and community support is keeping Typhoon Yolanda survivors going, a Catholic priest said.

Almost a year after typhoon Yolanda devastated San Joaquin village of Palo, Leyte and claimed hundreds of lives, parish priest Fr. Kelvin Apurillo said many people are still reeling in pain especially those who lost family members and relatives.

“This is really very difficult. But because of their faith, they are trying to move on. Faith keeps these people going,” he said.

Right in front of the San Joaquin Parish Church is one of the biggest mass graves with 371 Yolanda victims.

The 37-year old priest said that many people would always visit the graves of their loved ones, say a prayer, offer flowers and light candles everyday.

After the onslaught of the typhoon, many people also took refuge in the parish church converted to a disaster relief center.

“Faith and this church was the first refuge of many people. For several weeks and months, all life was here,” Apurillo said.

The priest added that Masses also helped in the recovery and made a real difference in the lives of many survivors.

“Spiritually, I think a lot of people we’ve recovered already because of the Mass. That’s why many people did not leave the Church,” said Apurillo.

On Nov. 8, a procession and a Mass will highlight the commemoration of the one year anniversary of Yolanda in the parish.

Dubbed as “Panundom” (remembering), the activity will start as early as 4:00am until 4:00pm.

“The time is very symbolic for us because we started to feel the very strong wind at 4am and we finished to count dead bodies at 4pm,” Apurillo said.

“Panumdom is not just a commemoration of the awful things that happened but also a thanksgiving for another chance to experience life for all of us who survived,” he said. “It’s not just to remember our struggles but also the love of the people for the Church and our love for them.” (CBCPNews)

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