November 13, 2013

International Mercy Response to Philippines Disaster

The images we have each seen on our screens and in print these last days, of the impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan, have shocked, horrified and appalled us all. And we are just the onlookers...


On Monday the Philippines President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino declared a “state of national calamity”. A calamity is defined as 'an event that brings terrible losses, lasting distress or severe affliction'. The word 'National', when used as an adjective, means 'common to the nation'. So we have a whole country and a whole peoples in mourning for what has befallen them.

We, of the Mercy world, are very much a part of this nation. Sisters of Mercy have been present in the Philippines since 1954 when six Sisters of Mercy arrived in Tacloban City from Cork, Ireland. The Sisters from this foundation became an autonomous congregation, the Religious Sisters of Mercy, Tacloban Philippines, in 1981. They have 47 Phillipino members, all of whom live and minister in the Philippines.

A second foundation was established in the Philippines in 1957 when four Sisters of Mercy from Buffalo, New York, USA, went to Tubod, Lanao del Norte on the island of Mindanao (the southernmost of the three island regions). The Sisters from this foundation belong to the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, NYPPaW Community (New York, Pennsylvania, and Pacific West Community). There are 42 NYPPaW members living and ministering in the Philippines.

As a human tragedy, the scale of the disaster is so enormous that it is almost beyond our comprehension. What makes this tragedy especially compelling for us is that our own Sisters are significantly effected. The new Mother of Mercy hospital at Tacloban is 50% damaged, the Holy Infant school and college 75% damaged, the Convent in Mindanao badly damaged and the food supplies have run out. It is,of course, impossible to make direct contact with our Sisters, but our understanding is that no Sister is hurt, thank God. However, news has filtered through that some of our Sisters' families are harmed or missing. In the midst of this disaster, these Sisters of Mercy continue to bring human and spiritual comfort and support to all in such drastic need around them.

We invite, we encourage, we urge the support of all of us in the global Mercy family for our Philippine Sisters and the people of their country. For we are not onlookers, but family...

How You Can Help:

  • Prayer. Please pray earnestly and perhaps organise others in communal prayer. You might consider lighting a candle at Catherine’s grave or in Catherine’s chapel and writing a prayer intention.We will join these with our prayers here in Baggot Street.
  • Donations: For immediate relief, it is best to work through reputable helping agencies in your own country. You might consider Church agencies such as CARITAS, CAFOD, TROCAIRE, UN Agencies such UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) , World Food Programme (WFP) or Emergency Agencies such as the RED CROSS, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERS. A list of these agencies and details of their response can be accessed here
  • The Mercy Community/Province in Buffalo (NyPPaW--New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West) has the direct connection to our Sisters in Mindanao/Iligan City. They are prepared to receive donations and have done this often unfortunately because of the terrible climate events that have occurred in that part of the world. They are being very careful that donations related to this storm will be directed to Tacloban and our sisters in that area who have been most dramatically affected. If you wish to use the online form, then the link is: Donation form
  • For Focussed longterm help to continue or rebuild Mercy Ministries of Health, Education, Social and Pastoral Care in the Philippines please donate to The Philippine Mercy Support Fund. This fund is currently being set up and all necessary Bank details will be sent to all recipients of e-News tomorrow and will also be available on our website The Fund will be held at Bank of Ireland. Measures are being put in place to ensure the security of this fund for donors and recipients.
  • A Donation can also be made on- line directly to Mercy International Association for support of relief work in the Philippines: Donate here
  • Government Aid: Please check your Government's response to the disaster. Some governments may be willing to fund restoration and infrastructural work. If you would like to propose a Mercy restoration work, e.g. rebuilding of the hospital or school to your government, please contact for necessary information to make the grant/aid application.
  • Address Root Causes: Support MIA's Call for Global and Systemic Climate Change and Responsibility. The UN negotiations on climate change are currently taking place in Warsaw. There is urgent and imperative need for countries globally to address the root causes of climate change and to assume their global responsibility in systematically and cooperatively addressing this challenge in the climate change negotiations.
  • Speaking to The Guardian newspaper, Yeb Sano, head of the Philippine government's delegation to the UN climate talks in Warsaw this week, and whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban says "We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway," and he challenges climate sceptics to "get off their ivory towers" to see the impacts of climate change firsthand. Sano, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015. "What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness," he told delegates from 190 countries. "The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.
  • Be informed Read this article published by The Guardian

Thank you to our Mercy Congregations and Institutes who are already responding to the crisis with local plans for action and fundraising and a united effort through Mercy International Association to assist our Sisters in the Philippines. 

An example of immediate actionis that of  Mercy Health (ISMAPNG) with their staff.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Image: Aerial view of the damage in Leyte, 10 November 2013. Photo: AFP PHOTO/RYAN LIM/MALACANANG PHOTO BUREAU

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