PALO, Leyte, Sept. 20, 2016 – “We who have been wounded, we who have been victims, now we are healed, we can be healers to those who are wounded.”
This was the message of Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du during his homily at the pontifical concelebrated Mass held on Monday, Sept. 19, at the Palo Cathedral to welcome the delegates to the 38th National Social Action General Assembly being held here.
The Archdiocese of Palo, which was hit by super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8, 2013, plays host to NASAGA as it gathers for its 38th general assembly, having been a recipient of assistance from the National Secretariat for Social Action during the archdiocese’s rebuilding and rehabilitation.
Almost all of the archdiocese’ 67 parishes during that time were damaged by the devastating super typhoon.
“After the super typhoon Yolanda, NASSA actively implemented the relief and rehabilitation programs to help the Archdiocese of Palo recover,” stressed Du.
The NASAGA delegates’ experiences as they gather in the Archdiocese of Palo, said the prelate, is their gift to the Church and their way of thanking God for His generosity.
He exhorted them “to be light-bearers”, giving light to those in despair and making God’s presence felt.
“To those in difficult circumstances, be assured that God is there to bring us back to the help of many people whom He uses as instruments like you,” said Du who took over the leadership of the archdiocese a mere one year and five months before the megastorm struck the area.
“Above all these, hope shone the brightest, the pains and the gains in the past is our strength and commitment in journeying with God’s poor,” he added.
According to the prelate, all the trials he experienced during the onslaught of super typhoon Haiyan reinforced his courage and commitment to journey with God’s poor.
He reiterated the need for baptized Catholics who have seen God in many ways and have been blessed much should give witness to others by the way they lead their lives.
“As people of faith, we have to let (God’s) light shine brightly before everyone,” Du added.
CBCP NASSA-Caritas Philippines, which is the humanitarian arm of the Church in the Philippines, stepped in to assist not just the churches but parishioners too during the disaster.
According to the archdiocese assessment, the recovery and rebuilding after the devastation is now 80-90 percent complete, said Du.
Established in NASSA 1966, it has been working to promote sustainable agriculture and integrity of creation, educating the people with democratic governance, protecting the rights of women and children and empowering affected communities through relief and rehabilitation services.
“The Archdiocese of Palo is a witness to these works,” said Du.
The NASAGA will proceed on Sept. 22 to the Bishop Manuel Mascariñas Gymnasium at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte.
An evening Mass will be held at the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City to culminate the four-day general assembly of social action commissions in various dioceses in country. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)