After days of watching televised scenes of dead bodies scattered around Tacloban, Order of Augustinian Recollect members organized a group of priests and a brother to bless bodies of people who died while fleeing the flood brought on by Typhoon Haiyan.
"'Spiritual Marines' will be in Tacloban (Nov. 14) to bless the dead, comfort the sorrowing and bring hope to people affected" by Haiyan, Recollect Brother Tagoy Jakosalem told Catholic News Service Nov. 13. He spoke by phone from Cebu where he and five priests were awaiting a ferry that would take them to western Leyte Island.
He said his team was also taking an ambulance loaded with relief goods to distribute to typhoon victims.
At sunrise, they planned to drive it to the east coast of Leyte to Tacloban City, where a storm surge inundated entire villages, destroyed buildings, electric posts, vehicles and other property and drowned people whose bodies lay along roads and beaches, some wrapped, others untouched.
"We will go around and sprinkle the bodies with holy water and say prayers for the dead, alone or with whoever wants to join us," Jakosalem said.
Order of Augustinian Recollects Fr. Charlie Orobia blesses bodies waiting to be buried after a storm surge from Super Typhoon Haiyan killed scores of people in Tacloban City. (Order of Augustinian Recollects Br. Jaazeal Jakosalem)
A team of U.S. Marines has arrived in the Philippines to join search and rescue and humanitarian aid efforts in the aftermath of the typhoon that devastated parts of the archipelago before heading for Vietnam where it made landfall, slightly weakened, on Monday.
The Marines will use MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which have vertical takeoff and landing and short takeoff and landing capabilities. The airport in Tacloban, the capital of Leyte island where some Philippine officials estimate as many as 10,000 people may be dead, is not yet able to accommodate large planes.
A U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman said the MV-22 “can operate in austere environments. Its ability to convert quickly to fixed-wing configuration gives it greatly increased speed and range over traditional rotary wing aircraft.”
The team from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade will focus on the search for survivors and logistic support for the unfolding humanitarian mission.
God bless all Marines doing their duty, whether they be helping the dead or the living and may God bring comfort and hope to the people devasated by this tragedy.