Christmas in an evacuation centre: MSCs providing typhoon relief aid in the Philippines - Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
04 Jan 2022

MSCs in the Philippines have been working throughout the Christmas season to bring emergency aid to survivors of Typhoon Odette, which hit the country with devastating consequences on December 16th, 2021.

Our MSC Centre for the Poor, located in Butuan, has been carrying out relief efforts in the Philippines over the Christmas period., bringing vital emergency support to families and communities who have been badly affected by Typhoon Odette.

Super Typhoon Rai, known locally as Odette, was the largest storm of 2021, with 6.2 million people affected in ten regions across the country. 580,000 people were displaced by the storm, and the death toll, as of December 30th, was at 397, with many more injuries. Over 712,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed by the storm, while an estimated 80,000 hectares of crops and agricultural land have been ravaged by powerful winds and torrential rain.

Our MSC Centre for the Poor, located in Butuan, has been carrying out relief efforts over the Christmas period. Headed by community leader Fr Richie Gomez MSC, the volunteer team have been working to bring vital emergency aid to families and communities in the south of the country.

As of December 30th, it was reported that some 580,000 people had been displaced by the storm, with 356,000 people dependent on the services of evacuation centres, while a further 227,000 were staying with family or friends. Writing from an evacuation centre on Christmas Eve, where he and a group of volunteers were handing out meals to the indigenous Badjao community, who had been “washed out” of their homes on the shoreline, Fr Richie told Irish Provincial Superior Fr Carl Tranter MSC how grateful he was for the “overwhelming support” that our Filipino MSC brothers have received from the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

“It is quite emotional, on my part, celebrating Christmas Eve in evacuation centres, when Jesus became the bread of life, the Emmanuel, for all of us,” wrote Fr Richie.

“I thank God for this great privilege… He has used me on a Christmas Eve to feed hundreds of evacuees with mushroom burgers made by our scholars at the Centre for the Poor.”

“Thank you for your overwhelming support!”

“It is quiet emotional, on my part, celebrating Christmas Eve in evacuation centres, when Jesus became the bread of life, the Emmanuel, for all of us.” ~ Fr Richie Gomez MSC, who spent Christmas Eve working in evacuation centres to provide food and essential aid to survivors of Typhoon Odette.

Our MSC brothers and Sacred Heart sisters are working tirelessly to provide essential support to the survivors of the typhoon as clean-up operations continue. We ask that you please keep our Sacred Heart family, and the communities they serve, in your prayers at this time of great need.

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