Leyte marks 3rd anniversary of pope’s visit

Leyte marks 3rd anniversary of pope’s visit

Pope Francis waves to the crowd after the Mass at the Tacloban airport on Jan. 17, 2015, enroute to Palo, Leyte to visit other survivors of typhoon Yolanda. BENHUR ARCAYAN/MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU

PALO, Leyte— Three years ago yesterday, thousands of people gathered in Leyte for the visit of Pope Francis.

On January 17, 2015, the pope met with some survivors of typhoon Yolanda and church leaders in Palo, but the highlight of his trip for many people was his Mass at the airport in Tacloban City.

Michael Mendroz, a 37-year-old driver from Tacloban, was among the volunteers who served during the papal visit despite strong rains brought by a storm.

Mendroz said he personally saw the pope in a close distance because he was one of those that secured the Pope through the human chain.

“I personally saw Pope Francis and I felt a different feeling. It was an experience I will never forget in my life,” he said.

During the Mass and wearing a yellow raincoat over his vestments, Pope Francis said he did not know what he could say to address the pain of the survivors of Yolanda that left thousands dead and millions homeless.

“I don’t know what to day to you,” said the pontiff.

The pope recalled that as he watched the catastrophe unfold from Rome, “I felt that I had to be here.”

“I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say. But I’m here,” he said. “I come to tell you that Jesus is Lord. and He never lets us down.”

Archbishop John Du of Palo marked the papal visit anniversary with a Mass at the Pope Francis Center, a facility located within the archbishop’s residence compound intended for the orphans and elderly.

The prelate also led the inauguration and blessing of a newly-constructed orphanage building.

A liturgical service was also held t the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral, where the pope had an audience with the priests and the religious in 2015.

Fr. Gilbert Urbina, the cathedral’s rector, said he could not forget the day Pope Francis visited the archdiocese.

“Despite of the strong rains because of the typhoon when he arrived, no body of us got sick,” Urbina said.

Few days after the papal visit, the bishop of Rome was declared “Super Pope” by the local government of Tabontabon town for being the first pontiff to visit Leyte. CBCPNews