Manila, Philippines, Jan 17, 2015 / 22:16 pm
Pope Francis led a youth rally in prayer for Kristel Padasas, a young woman who died in a freak accident at Saturday's papal Mass in the Philippines.
"Sad news today," the Pope said Jan. 18. "Yesterday as Mass was about to start, a piece of the scaffolding fell and upon falling, it hit a young woman who was working in the area, and she died. Her name is Kristel."
"She worked for the organization and preparation for that very Mass," the Pope continued. "She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services. She was a volunteer."
"I would like all of you, young like her, to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we pray to our Mama, Mother Mary in Heaven," the Pope said.
The Pope then led tens of thousands of people in praying a Hail Mary on the Manila campus of the Santo Thomas University.
Pope Francis also met with Padasas' father on Sunday, Vatican Radio reported, saying that the meeting lasted more than 20 minutes at the apostolic nunciature in Manila with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as an interpreter.
Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office, said that two childhood photos were on a table during the meeting, according to Vatican Radio. He also said her father was shocked by the death, but consoled by the knowledge that she helped prepare for the Pope's arrival.
Padasas' mother was out of the country at the time of the accident.
Catholic Relief Services on Jan. 17 confirmed Padasas' death. She had been based in Samar and was working on a recovery project for Typhoon Haiyan.
"Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS," said Jim Stipe, communications officer with the U.S.-based relief organization.
"She traveled a great distance to volunteer at today's papal Mass and to remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan," he continued.
The scaffolding of a speaker near the altar fell on Posadas amid heavy winds from a nearby storm that ended up altering the Pope's schedule by almost four hours.
The Mass was held near the Tacloban airport, located in a region that was heavily affected by the enormous Typhoon Haiyan. The storm made landfall there in December 2013, causing many deaths and massive destruction.
According to Stipe, Padasas' colleagues said she was "someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties."
"She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families," Stipe said. "Our deepest prayers are with Kristel's family and loved ones."
Padasas was among the 200,000-300,000 people who braved harsh weather conditions to attend the open air Mass on Saturday morning with the Pope. Weather concerns forced Pope Francis to cut short his visit by four hours to Leyte island, where Tacloban is the largest city.