Ela Chodzko-Zajko dishes out food during non-stop relief efforts to aid victims of December's deadly typhoon.

Marian Missionaries Make a Plea for Disaster Relief

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit our Philippines' mission blog for continuing updates on our Marian missionaries' efforts to aid victims of the Dec. 16-17 typhoon in the Philippines. The deadly typhoon has left thousands without shelter, food and water. The area hit hardest is Cagayan de Oro, home of the Marians' Divine Mercy mission.

The Marians are asking for contributions to the relief efforts. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page.

+ + + Jan. 3 — 6:47 a.m. + + +

Elzbieta "Ela" Chodzko-Zajko, a lay missionary of the Marian Fathers, sends us this report of relief efforts:

Our community, together with the nuns from the congregation of Daughters of Our Lady of Divine Love, today prepared meals for 300 people. The Marians sponsored the food purchase. Our day began at 5:20 a.m. when we left Divine Mercy Hills and drove to the sisters. First we all celebrated Mass at 6 a.m., then we all had breakfast. Soon after, our priests and novices were presented with aprons, and off to work they went!

We were chopping, cutting, cooking, lighting fires, frying and filling the containers. In between, our priests and novices had time to play with the children who live with the sisters. The House of Joy is for girls who were either abandoned by families or had to be removed. There are a few boys living there as well. The older one is staying temporarily; his family home was washed away during the floods.

The sisters have facilities outdoors to be able to cook for a large number of people. While we were cooking, one of the nuns, Sr. Tess, together with one of our novices and other helpers, went to give out green tickets to the flood families and inform them that we will be coming with the food later. Once the food was cooked and packed, we then drove to one of ,the areas affected by the floods.

People in this area are staying in their damaged houses, those that have a house left. There is still plenty of mud and rubbish everywhere and we were able to park in a dry area. Families came to collect packed lunch and water and thanked us for coming to visit them. We were also able to walk around a little (could not go too far as there was mud everywhere) and speak to the residents who told us many stories. You can see from the photographs the present situation.

During the last two weeks, the sisters have been collecting data of family members and establishing their needs in different areas affected by the floods, a request made by the archbishop. During their visits, they found that the mothers were so traumatized by the typhoon that they were not able to breast feed their babies but no baby milk was available. We were able to quickly collect some funds from our families and friends and the priests made a donation in order for the sisters to purchase baby milk. At present our priests are co-working with the sisters and the next small project will be to provide school materials for children to enable them to go back to school. They have nothing.

Please continue your support. These people need our help daily. Thousands have been left with nothing, and the help is not reaching these people quickly enough.

God bless and thank you,

+ + + Visit the Philippines' mission blog for photos and further details of the missionaries' efforts. + + +

+ + + Dec. 28 — 2 p.m. + + +

As you may know, in 2008 the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception founded a mission in the island nation of the Philippines — a mission focused on proclaiming the message of The Divine Mercy and devotion to Mary Immaculate.

As you may also know, the Philippines was devastated by a massive typhoon on Dec. 16-17 responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 men, women and children. The damage has also left countless families homeless and has ruined the water supplies in several areas, leaving local authorities struggling to organize aid efforts. Authorities are predicting an epidemic of cholera and diphtheria.

The Marians in the Philippines are requesting your help in the form of prayers and financial assistance. Funds will be distributed to relief efforts centering on helping people to be resettled and new homes built for them, as well as providing food, clothing, water, and medical supplies to victims.

To help, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

Elzbieta "Ela" Chodzko-Zajko, a lay missionary of the Marian Fathers stationed in the province of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, says reports put the number of fatalities in Cagayan de Oro alone at 650. In addition, she says, "There are still over 1,000 people missing in the two main towns of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, although most now assume these can be counted as victims."

"Many inhabitants had to vacate their houses because of the flood warnings. According to the latest news, about 44,000 indigenous people are seeking temporary shelters with very poor sanitary facilities; up to 4,000 people are sharing school buildings with about two toilets available and no available water or food. Also, 276,000 people had to leave their homes and their livelihoods.

"Many of the Cagayan clergy were hit hard and took some time to get their act together, but now we see volunteers and groups organizing relief work, packing food parcels, clothing, water containers, etc.," Ela says. "As usual it takes a lot to knock Filipinos down and much more to keep them down for long. They are very resilient, God-fearing people, and they deserve our help.

"Still, we feel so helpless at the moment as many people are not able to survive due to lack of water and food and lack of supplies," she says.

Visit our Philippines' mission blog for continuing updates.

View a video of the plight Filipinos are now facing. ...

The Most Rev. Antonio Javellana Ledesma, S.J., D.D., the Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, has made a similar plea. In an open letter to the Church and the world, he describes the horror suffered during the typhoon and in its aftermath. He writes:

Christmas is a time of rejoicing. But this year in Cagayan de Oro we mourn and express our condolence for all those who have perished in the wake of Typhoon Sendong on Dec. 16-17. In some places entire families have been washed away by the rampaging waters of Cagayan de Oro River. Others died in their sleep, trapped inside their homes by the sudden rise of floodwaters that reached unprecedented levels past midnight.

There are accounts of how a mother clutching the hands of two children was able to escape from the floods, only to lose another child whose pleas for help could be heard receding in the darkness of the night. Another family was able to hold on to an uprooted balete tree that floated out into Macajalar Bay and reached the shores of Camiguin Island. Floating bodies have been retrieved from the waters of nearby towns. The low-lying communities of Cala-Cala and Isla de Oro have been leveled by a tsunami-like river surge.

Practically everyone in the city has lost some relatives or personal friends in this calamity. Schools have lost some students and staff; officemates have not reported because of the condition of their homes; and a number of unidentified bodies still await a dignified burial in a common resting place.

In some of our churches, the Misa de Gallo could not be celebrated because the church became a refuge for families seeking higher ground. In one chapel, even pigs and other animals were brought in and tied at the foot of the altar. Lay ministers were scandalized until the parish priest reminded them that this must have been the same situation in the stable of that first Christmas night. We have also started to celebrate the Misa de Gallo in the evacuation centers.

Even as we grieve with those directly affected by this tragedy, the challenge for us now is to help rebuild the lives and broken homes of the survivors. The evacuation centers are slowly being organized in the distribution of relief goods — in particular, water, food, medicine, mats, blankets, etc.

... May the newborn child in the manger fill us with the spirit of solidarity in moments of adversity and hope in the sharing of love and life with one another. "Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart" (Ps 90).

+ + + For a USA tax deductable donation or non-tax deductable donation outside of the USA we invite you to do one of the following: + + +

Donate online.
• Send an e-mail to service@marian.org to request donation instructions such as bank wire transfer information.
• Call the Marian Helpers Center at 1-800-462-7426 (USA & Canada) or 413-298-1399.
• Write to: Association of Marian Helpers, Attn: Philippines Disaster, Eden Hill, Stockbridge Mass. 01263

Again. we welcome you to visit our Philippines' mission blog for continuing updates on this tragedy and its aftermath.

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