A year after typhoon, Filipinos look forward to Pope Francis’ visit

by Simone Orendain  |  published on November 14, 2014

One year after one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded crashed across the central Philippines, church leaders in some of the worst-hit parts looked to Pope Francis’ brief January visit to Leyte Island with hope, and slight trepidation.

Standing near the mass burial site bordered with brand new slate grave markers, at the Palo Archdiocese’s Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Msgr. Rex Ramirez said he was personally excited that Pope Francis would be coming.

But he also compared the scale of the pending visit to that of Typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda, as it was known locally. The storm bore 195-mph winds and kicked up tsunami-sized storm surges, leaving 7,300 dead or missing.

“We’re just barely beginning to understand how big the (papal visit) is for us,” said Msgr. Ramirez, vicar general of the Palo Archdiocese. “When we begin to see, ‘Oh we still lack this thing. We still need to do this thing. We still need to prepare such things.’ I say, this is a big event, maybe bigger than Yolanda.”

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