“But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” These were the words of Jesus Christ to St. Peter foretelling how His passion and death will shake Peter’s faith and the rest of the disciples.
The faith of the faithful who lived and survived the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu was also shaken and tested once again but in this aftermath of the typhoon the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa once again renewed its commitment to join in the recovery effort and more importantly, to provide spiritual help to our people in this trying time.
“Let us turn to God and let us help one another!” This was the message of Bishop Ryan Jimenez in his pastoral letter released within days after category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu hit the islands of Saipan and Tinian.
Indeed, many faithful immediately turned to God and went back to attending Masses in the midst of the loss that they have suffered. Many also have reached out to help their neighbors.
The Diocese of Chalan Kanoa have also begun to recover from the devastation and for the most part liturgical services are back on schedule at least in the northern parishes where power and water have been restored.
Parishes in the south where churches and facilities have suffered significant damages and still have no power or water have adjusted their masses in the evening to an earlier time to take advantage of the daylight. Please see the full schedule of Masses in all parishes in Saipan and Tinian listed in this issue.
Like everyone else in the island, the diocese also suffered significant infrastructure damages. San Jose Church in Tinian was literally left in tattered and most probably a completely new church has to be build. In Saipan, shock and sadness reflected on the faces of San Vicente parishioners as they saw the large stained glass structures shattered. San Antonio, Santa Soledad and San Jude also sustained significant damages. Mt. Carmel School’s gymnasium was also destroyed by the typhoon.
Last week, Bishop Ryan organized the clergy and religious sisters to visit the shelters every day to provide spiritual and counseling guidance. In San Vicente School, Fr. Jason and Sr. Emma conducted Communion Services on Sundays for those parishioners unable to come to church. Some San Vicente parishioners are also visiting the homes in the parish every Sunday to encourage families. Fr. James went around San Jude in his bike to see his parishioners. Fr. Harold and Fr. Ken also take turns visiting the families who are in the Aging Center.
Fr. Allan and his San Roque parishioners organized to put together relief packages which they then distributed in the neighborhood of Holy Rosary Oratory in Dandan.
It is more than three and recovery is well underway and ongoing for the islands of Saipan and Tinian, thanks to the outpour of help and from the federal government agencies, US military, various agencies and private groups both on and off-island and neighboring islands.
It is more than three weeks and we begin to see a sense of normalcy around us. Government offices, local and private business are open; some private schools are already open even if the public schools are still close. In short, most people have begun to go back to their regular routine even if everyone is still painfully aware of the many families who have lost their homes and properties and are still living in various shelters in Saipan, not mentioning the families in Tinian who have suffered the worst of the typhoon.