Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pre-Christmas Motorcycle Tour to Typhoon Devastated areas in Leyte and Samar

The other night, I arrived back in Baclaran after a long journey - not by bicycle or on foot as I did many years ago but on a Honda CB110. Last week after celebrating the first Simbang Gabi in Baclaran, I went on 2,450 km motorcycle tour to Samar and Leyte. I wanted to see for myself the devastation brought about by Super-Typhoon Yolanda and to attend a meeting of Redemptorists to discuss and plan the type of mission to be carried out in parishes affected by the typhoon. I also visited some of the diocesan BEC directors of Naval, Palo, Calbayog and Borongan and talked about the role of affected BECs in disaster relief and rehabilitation.

It was heart-wrenching for me to see the sight of places and people affected by the strongest typhoon that ever hit the country. One of the unforgettable sight was seeing people on both sides on the street with lighted candles in memory of those who perished 40 days earlier. They were still in grief. Some were huddled on the side of the street sharing with one another their painful stories.

This reminded me that in the aftermath of a disaster the members of the community do not only need food, shelter and clothing. Stress debriefing or psychological first aid can help but these also not enough. The people have undergone fear, helplessness, hopelessness, grief. Their faith has been shaken. They need spiritual solace and healing. They need a venue to share their stories, experiences, feelings, doubts and also the experience of grace. Thus, liturgical celebration and bible-sharing is very important. Below is a method that I designed and shared with the BEC directors and the Redemptorists who will be engaged in parish missions in the months to come.

Bible-Sharing Method for BECs Affected by Disaster

1. Opening Hymn (optional)

2. Opening Prayer/Invocation

3. Psalm (cf  booklet “Paglaom Taliwala sa Trahedya ex: Psalm 25:14-21, )

4. Silence/Individual Reflection (recall the disaster you have recently experienced – what happened? What were your questions? What were your experience of God’s presence or grace?)

5. Sharing of Experiences/Stories

6. Scripture Reading (choose appropriate texts: e.g. 2 Cor 4:6-17 or Rom 8:35-37 or Luke 8:22-25 or  any other Gospel or Old/New Testament passages that reflect their experience and give them consolation)

7. Silent Reflection

8. Sharing of reflection/deepening (by any member who would like to share and especially by the leaders and facilitator)

9. Shared Prayer of Thanksgiving (recall the graces & blessings you have received during this experience)

10. Shared Prayer of Petition (pray for what you and your community need)

11. Concluding Prayer

12. Final Hymn (optional)