At the end of 2022, the Philippines Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart marked the completion of the Gilutongan Island phase of the MSC Typhoon Odette Housing Project with the blessing of the newly constructed houses in the area, just short of a year after Typhoon Odette hit the region in December 2021.
The house blessing ceremony took place at the end of November, with Fr Joel Bonza MSC (Cebu District Superior) and Fr Samuel Patriarca MSC (Director of the Philippines Mission Office), leading the celebrations, alongside several MSC priests from the Cebu District, including Fr Reynante Joseph Ga, Fr Ramil Baluran and Fr Juls Amaneo.
Hundreds of thousands of families found themselves displaced from their homes in December 2021, when Typhoon Odette hit the Philippines with devastating consequences. The super-typhoon was the strongest storm of the year, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries, and damaging – often destroying – hundreds of thousands of homes. Recalling the impact of the typhoon shortly after it passed, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart – Social Initiative and Collaborative Action Project said, “When it made landfall, winds of up to 210 km per hour were uprooting coconut trees, ripping down electricity poles, and hurling slabs of corrugated tin and wood through the air.”
Work had commenced on the Gilutongan Island project, situated in Cordova, Cebu, back in July 2022, following the first stage of the Typhoon Odette Housing Project in Bayagnan Island, Surigao City, earlier in the year. As reported by the Facebook page for the MSC Mission Office in the Philippines, a total of 254 households benefitted from the Gilutongan Island phase of the project, including 108 homes that had been completely destroyed by Typhoon Odette, and 146 houses that had partial damage.
“On behalf of the beneficiaries, we thank all our donors, mission partners and volunteers who helped us in many ways to make this project possible,” read a post on the Facebook page for the MSC Mission Office in the Philippines. “We also extend our gratitude to the Task Force Typhoon Odette – Gilutongan and the community leaders who worked hard in the implementation and monitoring of the project. To all of you, DAGHANG SALAMAT KANINYONG TANAN! (Thank you all so much!)”
Now, a year after the storm, we send our heartfelt congratulations and blessings to our MSC brothers in the Philippines, and to the families and communities who have been working so hard to rebuild their homes and their lives since. We keep them in our prayers, that they may be safe and filled with hope as we begin a new year and mark a new chapter for the people of Gilutongan Island.
Images via the Facebook page for the MSC Mission Office Philippines, Inc.