Wheelchair-bound priest initiates ‘mercy and compassion center’

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MANILA, March 10, 2015 — After building over a hundred core houses for quake survivors in Bohol, a priest who lost his ability to walk initiates the construction of a center for orphans, elderly, out-of-school-youth, physically challenged persons, and battered women.

Fr. Fernando “Dodong” Po and Fr. Dari Dioquino, Kanlungan ni Maria priest-in-charge, before a Mass on Feb. 11, 2015, World Day for the Sick at the St. Joseph the Worker Parish Cathedral in Tagbiliran City, Bohol (Photo: Oliver Samson)

Fr. Fernando “Dodong” Po and Fr. Dari Dioquino, Kanlungan ni Maria priest-in-charge, before a Mass on Feb. 11, 2015, World Day for the Sick at the St. Joseph the Worker Parish Cathedral in Tagbiliran City, Bohol (Photo: Oliver Samson)

The facility, which will be known as the Pope Francis Centrum of Mercy and Compassion, will consist of an orphanage, a home for the aged, a women’s crises intervention house, a center for the physically challenged and out of school youth, Fr. Fernando “Dodong” Po said.

The center can accommodate about 30 orphans, 24 elderly, 12 women, 24 physically challenged and out of school youth.

P36 million-structure

“The women’s crises intervention center is for battered and abused women,” he said. “After having gone through the intervention process in a safe house, the women may be transferred to this center before going home to their families,” the priest explained.

The total cost of the construction was estimated at Php 36 million, Po said. The site development plan and the estimate of the cost of expenses were provided by Architect Eufracio Araneta.

The construction fund will be made available by the BuildAid of England, he added.

BuildAid, a construction charity group formed in 2005 following the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004, funds and constructs its own projects.

The Rotary World Help of Canada, on the other hand, will provide the center with furnishings and furniture, Po said.

Concrete response

The center, which is the first in the country and, arguably, the world “is a concrete response to Pope Francis’ call for mercy and compassion during his pastoral visit in the country,” he said.

It will be “a community, indeed, of the least, last and lost whom we should care for,” he added.

Mr. and Mrs. Bonnie Gable and Mr. Ghodon Hobbis of Rotary World Help of Canada assured Po that the Pope Francis Centrum of Compassion and Mercy will be realized.

The facility will rise on a 3,605-square-meter in barangay Looc, Panglao, Bohol that Po’s family is donating.

“This is really a huge project,” he noted. “I leave it all in the hands of God.” (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)

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