General Minister Announces Fund for Typhoon Haiyan Relief in Philippines

Maria Hayes In the Headlines

In response to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month, General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, announced the creation of a special fund at the General Curia that will send aid to the Philippines.

“We have decided to open up a special account here at our General Curia to funnel funds for relief of our sisters and brothers in the Philippines,” the General Minister said in the Nov. 15 announcement. “We will keep track of all monies received, send the money to the Philippines, and then provide an accounting as it becomes available.”

Information about how to donate is included in the announcement.

There are two Franciscan entities in the Philippines. The recently-founded Custody of St. Anthony of Padua has a presence on four islands affected by the storm: Biliran, Cebu, Leyte and Samar. The newly-built novitiate house in Ormoc City, Leyte, was destroyed, but the friars and novices are safe. However, there is still no electricity, food, or water. Relief goods had not reached the area on Nov. 15, one week after the storm hit the islands, according to Provincial Minister Fr. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM, of the Province of San Pedro Bautista, who wrote to the General Minister providing an update of conditions there and requesting assistance.

“Our country is in mourning for all those who have perished,” wrote Fr. Lino. “Thousands of survivors are homeless and are hysterically scavenging for food and water. Relief operations are undergoing, but it seems frustrating due to the vast areas affected that are hardly passable.”

In an e-bulletin sent to Holy Name Province friars last week, ministries were advised to send donations to Catholic Relief Services to help provide immediate relief. The Provincial Administration is discussing the possibility of making a donation from the Province that will be combined with donations of other English-speaking Conference provinces to assist the friars of the Philippines in their long-term rebuilding efforts.

The ESC also provided information about six organizations that are teaming up to provide assistance to those in the Philippines.

Ministries around the Province have organized second collections to gather funds for the Philippines and planned special Masses to pray for the victims. The Filipino community of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City sent $3,000 as relief aide to friars and evacuees in Ormoc City and other places in the Island of Leyte, according toJulian Jagudilla, OFM. A Mass for typhoon victims will be celebrated Nov. 22 at the West 31st Street church.

On Nov. 23, Michael Reyes, OFM, who was born in the Philippines, is preaching at a special Saturday Mass at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. Money collected will be sent to the Philippine OFM province through the General Curia, according to Jim McIntosh, OFM, the shrine’s director of information technology. St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Hartford, Conn., “will pray the prayer in time of disaster at each of the Masses until the end of November, remembering all those who suffer in this tragedy,” according to Thomas Gallagher, OFM, pastor.

In a special message emailed to the Province’s donors and friends, David Convertino, OFM, director of development, implored recipients to take action in some way “to shake us out of our daze and into the realm of the Good Samaritan.”

“Pray for the survivors, the dead in the streets, and for all of the rest of the world, that we may remember our gratitude for all we do have,” he wrote in the Nov. 14 message. “Give some financial assistance to help with the immediate needs of a suffering people. Understand that it was nature, a horrific storm that did this, not God. Then try and see how it’s God who helps us wrap our mind around this tragedy.”

Fr. Lino expressed his gratitude for those who have sent prayers and donations thus far.

“I thank you, our many brothers and sisters in the Franciscan family all over the world, for showing your prayers of affection and solidarity, and for offering generously your financial assistance,” Fr. Lino wrote. “It is a great consolation on our part. We thank you sincerely from our hearts.”

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.