Rain during papal Mass a small sacrifice compared to Typhoon Haiyan

Karen Papellero Philippines Catholic News Agency Credit Alan Holdren CNA 11615 Karen Papellero at the papal Mass in Tacloban Jan. 17. | Alan Holdren / CNA.

Hundreds of thousands of people put up with the rain and the wind to attend an outdoor Mass with Pope Francis on Jan. 17 on the Philippine island of Leyte--"ground zero" of the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan disaster.

Nearly all in attendance, including the Pope, sported yellow ponchos. Some wiped tears as the Holy Father expressed his heartfelt desire to be close to the survivors of the storm.

"I'm here to be with you," he said in an impromptu homily. "A little bit late, I have to say. But I'm here. I've come to tell you that Jesus is Lord. That Jesus never lets us down."

Karen Papellero, from the Philippines island of Cebu, travelled about two hours by boat in order to be with Pope Francis near the Tacloban airport on Saturday.

"We have braved the rain, and all the elements, just to be here, not only to see the Pope but to be here with the Church, and with the community of the faithful to experience that expression of faith," she told CNA.

"We want to be with him!" she said of the Holy Father.

Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda, struck the Philippines in December 2013. Its strong winds and heavy rains killed over 6,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless across the country.

Papellero was at home when the storm hit and followed storm updates on the news.

"The storm was pretty bad during even in Cebu, even though we were not in the eye of the storm we felt its strength," she said.

She said the rain during the Mass was almost fitting, considering the audience and the location.

"It's like deja vu – it's raining, we are experiencing just a little of what the survivors of Yolanda experienced, it's just a little sacrifice if we think of what they have undergone, what they went through during that time," she said.

One Haiyan survivor, Buena Guarino, travelled over four hours to attend the Mass for survivors on Saturday.

"We wanted to witness, to see our beloved Pope Francis," he said. "We are one of the victims of the storm. We were greatly affected. Our houses were washed out, our properties, everything that we owned, vanished."

After the Mass Pope Francis had lunch with about 30 survivors of the storm. He was then scheduled to address survivors and religious of the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte, but he flew back to Manila due to an incoming typhoon.

The Pope did meet with a fisherman and his family to hear of their experiences during the storm. He gave the whole family a blessing, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told journalists.

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