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Bohol priest thanks God, moved by people’s deep faith amid tragedy

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St. Michael Church in Clarin, Bohol (Photo courtesy: Arnold Beltran Pingoy)

TAGBILARAN, Bohol, Oct. 19, 2013—Even as he thanked God for sparing his life from harm, a Bohol priest said he was deeply moved by the greatness of faith the quake victims have shown amid the tragedy that has struck them. 

Fr. Ronaldo C. Amora, Financial Officer (Oeconomus) of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, narrated his own brush with death when he was trapped between two old buildings in Tagbilaran City when the earthquake struck on Tuesday. 

But he also stressed how he was profoundly touched by the people’s unwavering faith in God in the midst of suffering and loss. 

“I was moved by the people’s deep faith,” he said adding “Dunay mga biktima nga nahugmo ang  ilang mga balay wala kuno’y hunong ilang hilak samtang naghunahuna sa kapait nga midangat kanila pero inig sulod sa Simbahan sa harap ng imahen ng Panginoon nahubasan ang ilang kasub-anan mohunong ang ilang pagluha”. (There are victims of the tragedy who were crying miserably because their homes were torn into rubble but when they enter inside the Church, their miseries became bearable in front of the reassuring image of the Lord and they stopped crying). 

“One thing admirable with people here who are victims of this worst tragedy is their unswerving faith in God. I was moved by these people’s clinging to God. They do not stop going to Church to pray even if their churches are already turned into shanks and blocks of stones,” the priest said. 

Going back to his own experience, Amora said he is deeply grateful that God spared him from any harm as the old buildings around him did not collapse when the 7.2 intensity tremor occurred. 

He also praised the Lord for the timely transfer of their temporary residence to the Seminary from the dilapidated Bishop Palace which is under construction, otherwise the weakened building could have collapsed and buried them alive had they stayed there when the quake struck. 

“Salamat sa Diyos naunhan namo ang linog pagbalhin sa seminary. Kung wala pa mi kabalhin dayon ug giabtan mi sa kusog nga linog nadat ogan siguro mi sa Palasyo nga gabok na,” (Thank God our transfer to the seminary was timely. Had we not transferred on time before the quake we don’t know if we survived when the weakened structure had collapsed with us inside), Amora narrated. 

The Bishop palace is the proper residence of the diocesan prelate. It also usually houses the offices of the Chancery and other diocesan offices.  

Amora told this writer in a telephone interview that he was on his way to the Cathedral Office for an important matter passing the side of the building when the earth started shaking violently. He was literally trapped between the old Cathedral building and another structure in the opposite side so he just remained in the driveway scampering for safety and hoping no hard objects would fall on him from the vibrating structures. 

The priest breathed a sigh of relief after the tremor as only small portions of the Cathedral were torn down and he was safe and sound. 

When asked what was his reflection about the tragedy that caused numbers of lives of innocent people in Bohol, Amora who is also a seminary professor said, “it is the law of nature. Nobody could be blamed. But I believe that out of this tragedy something good would come out from it.” 

The Oeconomus said, the Diocese and the members of the Clergy with the leadership of Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Y. Medroso is now busy facilitating aids to the worst hit victims of the catastrophe. The most basic materials which the victims need for the moment are more supplies for food (rice, water, and can goods), clothing, toiletries and shelter (tents), among others. 

At the moment, he said, the diocesan local team for the heritage churches is now coordinating with the government counterpart in assessing the extent of the damages of the Churches listed as heritage edifices by the government for possible support to be extended for the reconstruction efforts. 

These government registered heritage churches (hence their restoration to be assisted by the government) include, Loon’s Our Lady of Light Parish, Loboc’s St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Baclayon’s Immaculate Conception Parish, among others. 

Amora said the diocese is now also assessing the damages wrought on Churches not listed as heritage structures by the government (hence, their rehabilitation to be shouldered solely by the diocese). These Churches included Clarin (St. Michael the Archangel Parish), Antequera (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish), Tubigon (St. Isidore  the Farmer Parish), among others. 

The professor said, while the diocesan team of engineers are still in the process of reassessing and examining the safety and worthiness of all church structures in the whole province, those affected areas in the diocese are under instruction to hold Masses for the time being outside church buildings or in makeshifts tents as aftershocks upon aftershocks could endanger the lives of both priests and church goers.  (Fr. Romy Ponte)

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