14 January 2014
They may never get the opportunity to see the Pope in person, but image and ideals of Pope Francis are already vividly painted in their thoughts.
Children from Sitio Alimasag in San Jose District, Tacloban City learned about the life and principles of renowned Catholic leader Pope Francis today, as volunteers of the People’s Committee to Welcome the Pope in Eastern Visayas (People’s Welcome–EV) conducted a story-telling session and other psycho-social activities to educate the children in time for the Pope’s visit.
“The young ones in San Jose live so close to where the Holy Father will hold mass, but may not get a chance to even just get a glimpse of Pope Francis due to the very tight security around his visit. We held this story-telling activity to help the children process their alienation from a big gathering that’s about to happen just outside their backyard, and understand that the Pope’s visit is precisely in solidarity with their plight as survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and other recent disasters,” said Sr. Martha Lugtu OSB, a Benedictine nun and convener of People’s Welcome – EV.
Using a story book hand-drawn by volunteers of the People’s Welcome, the group taught the children about the Pope’s social teachings on the Joy of the Gospel, the need to uphold Human Dignity especially for the poor, and the role of the youth in transforming society.
The children later made drawings reflecting the current situation of their families after their homes were ravaged by the past typhoon disasters, including Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) and Typhoon Seniang (Jangmi). They also wrote personal letters to Pope Francis, which they planned to hand over to the Pontiff together with the drawings should they be able to see him at the mass or while en-route to Palo Town for a lunch with the poor and a meeting with the religious.
“In his 2014 World Youth Day message, Pope Francis said to the youth that ‘we have to learn to be on the side of the poor, and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor.’ This is the spirit of what the people should learn and imbibe from the Holy Father’s visit. We should all reciprocate Pope Francis’ solidarity with the poor by learning and being part of the poor’s struggles,” explained Sr. Martha.
The Pope’s approaching release of an Encyclical on Climate Change and Human Ecology after his visit to the Philippines typified the Church’s stand for the poor especially for future generations in climate vulnerable communities, according to the People Surge Alliance for Yolanda Survivors, a convening organization of the People’s Welcome – EV.
“These children will inherit a future where ‘Yolanda’ is the norm if the climate crisis remains unaddressed. We hope Yolanda and other disaster survivors will be able to share to the Holy Father the current situation of unabated inherent poverty and the continuing injustices that we experience in the hands of a government with no mercy and compassion for the poor,” said Dr. Efleda Bautista, chairperson of People Surge and co-convener of People’s Welcome-EV.
The story telling is part of a series of activities by the People’s Welcome–EV to raise awareness on the social teachings and advocacies of Pope Francis, leading to a Gathering of the Poor on January 16 at the Balyuan Amphitheatre in Tacloban City, and a solidarity Lunch of the Poor on January 17 near the Gonzaga House in Palo Town.
Reference: Dr. Efleda K. Bautista, Convener, People’s Welcome – EV – 09394781340