Order of Malta Philippines Accompanies Marawi Bishop in His First Visit to Desecrated Cathedral
The Order of Malta Philippines accompanied Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña in his first visit to his Cathedral since it was desecrated and burned by ISIS-inspired terrorists in the Philippines last May 2017
The Bishop was quiet as he entered the premises of his Cathedral. One by one, he approached the sacred images — a decapitated statue of Maria Auxiliadora (Mary, Help of Christians), a deformed statue of the Resurrected Christ and finally the destroyed image of Jesus crucified on the cross. The Bishop said a silent prayer and knelt before the images despite the horrible states of each image. Before leaving, he gathered all those present around the altar and glorified God.
After the visit, the Bishop and volunteers of his Prelature met with Dr. Leopoldo Lazatin, President of the Order of Malta Philippines. He was accompanied by the Order’s Executive Director, Ms. Cecille Piñones
Dr. Lazatin gave some encouraging words to the volunteers, some of whom were feeling demoralized because of the lack of government and public support to the residents of Marawi.
During the meeting, Dr. Lazatin committed to the Bishop and his Prelature that the Order of Malta will continue to bring aid to affected residents and hopefully help in the reconstruction of houses and communities regardless of the faith background of the beneficiaries. The Order will also request Malteser International, the humanitarian relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta, to implement Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in Marawi.
Dr. Lazatin also brought his grandson, Diego, who held a fund-raising campaign for the Aid to the Church in Need’s Marawi campaign. Diego sold t-shirts in his school and every piece sold was equivalent to one shirt that will be donated to the victims of the Marawi conflict. Diego delivered the first batch of t-shirts during the same visit.
This is the second visit of the Order of Malta Philippines to the Prelature after the Marawi siege. During its first visit, the Order supported the relief operation of the Diocese of Iligan by providing volunteers who packed the relief goods consisting of toiletries, sanitary napkins, malong, towel, and clothes. These items were suggested by the Maranao IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) during the consultation visits made by the staff of the Diocese of Iligan. An estimated 1,500 IDPs in Barangay Tambacan, Lanao del Norte benefitted from the relief operations.
Worth noting was that the volunteers tapped by the Order of Malta Philippines were the beneficiaries of the Order’s Housing Project for victims of Typhoon Sendong in Iligan City in 2012. The volunteers wholeheartedly answered the call for help as a way of giving back the blessings they have received from above through the Order of Malta
Conducting relief operations to disaster-affected areas is at the heart of the mission of the Order of Malta. Although the Order had conducted minor relief missions in the past, the Order’s first major relief operation was organized after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and the Ormoc flashfloods in 1991. Since then, it has provided emergency aid relief as a way of continuing the Order’s tradition of caring for people in need through medical, social and humanitarian work.