St. Louis Catholics respond to calls for aid

Efforts are under way in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to support relief efforts in typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines.

An estimated tens of thousands of people are impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the central Philippines Nov. 8.

Parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis were to hold a special collection over the weekend at the request of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

"Catholic Relief Services, in cooperation with our partners, will provide families with shelter, essential living supplies, and clean water and sanitation," Archbishop Carlson wrote in a letter on the need for the collection. He also asked for prayers for those impacted by the tragedy.

Deacon Delfin Leonardo of St. Joseph Parish in Clayton said Filipino groups in St. Louis are trying to bring relief but are hampered by transportation difficulties in the Philippines caused by the typhoon. The area that was hit is a tourist area with "very hospitable people," he said.

"We are so thankful to the people and countries who are helping us. Our frustration is the inability to reach the people concerned. They're really strapped and need help," he said.

Merlyn Eulalia of Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights, who has ties to three other parishes as well, said members of the Filipino community have collected funds and will work through a charity such as the American Red Cross. Her family and friends in the area that was hit are safe, but "it was totally devastated, 95 percent," she said.

Several religious communities here, including the Servites, have ties to the region.

St. Joseph Parish in Farmington was planning a Mass at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 for the Filipino community there. Father Rickey Valleroy, pastor, estimated that the parish has about 80 members who are from the Philippines.

St. Joseph Parish leaders have invited people from other area parishes to join them at the Mass. The readings were to be done in the Filipinos' native tongue. After the Mass, the parish was to host a dinner for the Filipino community so that they can comfort one another.

Soon after news of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the Worship Office of the archdiocese sent parishes universal prayers to include at Masses.

Sister Mary Catherine Smith, superior of the Holy Spirit Adoration (Pink) Sisters at Mount Grace Convent in north St. Louis, noted that eight of the sisters are from the Philippines. None of them had relatives in the area and their community's convent in the area was damaged but no one hurt. News coverage has shown the need for the sisters' efforts. "We keep praying," Sister Mary Catherine said.

Donations may be sent to the Archdiocesan Finance Office, Attention: Catholic Relief Services – Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief, 20 Archbishop May Drive, St. Louis, MO 63119.

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