Palo prelate echoes Pope’s message: ‘God is indeed with us’

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Palo Archbishop John Du gives Pope Francis a “Filipinized” version of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception as a ceremonial keepsake of his visit to the Archdiocese of Palo, Jan. 17, 2015. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

TACLOBAN City, Jan. 18, 2016 – “God never judges and never punishes but (he is) a God of mercy and compassion.”

Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du echoed Pope Francis’ words during his homily in a Mass on Sunday commemorating the Feast of the Sto. Niño, the first year anniversary of the Holy Father’s visit to the archdiocese, and a special Archdiocesan Day of Mercy and Compassion which Du recently declared.

“All the support and assistance, the many things that served us so that we could recover and all that have been destroyed were concrete expression of God’s mercy and compassion,” he added, alluding to super typhoon Yolanda which devastated the region in November 2013.

God’s punishment?

Du told the story of how some faithful asked him whether typhoon Yolanda was God’s punishment.

The prelate said: “There were those who asked me, ‘Bishop, what have we done? What sin have we committed that we [are] punished by God?”

“I said, ’No because he is a God of mercy and compassion,’” explained Du.

He stressed that a total dependence on God through fervent prayer had made possible the restoration and rehabilitation of destroyed homes, edifices, facilities and even of lives.

“We just need to pray hard because God is listening to us and accompanying us with his Son Christ Jesus,” he exhorted.

Papal visit photo book

He reminded the people, “God is with us in good and bad times like a child. He never punishes but He is our companion in our journey in life.”

He cited for instance the people’s experience with the super typhoon Yolanda where so many came together from across the country and the globe to offer help to the survivors.

“Above all these is the visit of the Holy Father, which we will cherish in our hearts,” he said.

Before the start of the Holy Mass, a hard-bound coffee-table photobook produced by the Heart of Francis Foundation, Inc. was introduced to the people.

According to Du, the photo book, which had been launched earlier in Metro Manila, will serve as a perpetual memento of papal visit 2015.

“The souvenir book is very important to us because this will be a book for the next generation to remember,” stressed Du while expressing gratefulness to God for its production.

Instruments of mercy

The book captured highlights of the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19 last year.

Edited CBCP News editors Msgr. Pedro Quitorio and Nirva’ana Delacruz as well as Palo Archdiocese spokesman Fr. Chris Arthur Militante, the book has CBCP News news editor Roy Lagarde as one of its three main photographers.

“This reminds us that the hands of God, the hands of Jesus, are always reaching out to all of us because we are His friends, we are His brothers and sisters,” Du explained.

Du urged all faithful to be instruments as well in extending God’s mercy and compassion to others, especially those in need.

He likewise urged the people to care and love more their families and for the children to respect their parents, like Jesus did, citing the family to be the first venue to show mercy and compassion. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News) 

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