“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

Guiuan town reconsecrates church damaged by Yolanda

Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia and Dr. Ana Mariel Teresa Labrador of the National Museum of the Philippines lead the unveiling of the marker for the restoration of the Guiuan Church in Eastern Samar province on Sunday, Dec. 8. ALREN BERONIO/ESTE NEWS

GUIUAN, Eastern Samar, December 8, 2019–An 18th century Marian church in the southernmost most tip of Eastern Samar province was reconsecrated Sunday, six years after it was destroyed by a super typhoon.

A marker for its reconstruction was unveiled during the rededication ceremony led by church and government officials.

The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, led the service to reconsecrate Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish Church.

A large number of people, who were mostly survivors of the most powerful storm ever recorded to strike land, attended the ceremony.

“What seems to be impossible has become possible,” Caccia said in his homily. “It is now back— strong, solid and will be able to endure for centuries ahead.”

In 2013, typhoon Yolanda made its first landfall in Guiuan wreaking havoc to the town and devastating its ancient church— the town’s foremost cultural and historic landmark.

Three years after, efforts to reconstruct the edifice was started with the National Museum of the Philippines taking the lead.

A total of P111.9 million were spent for the restoration with the support of the US government through the Ambassador’s Fund for cultural preservation.

Dr. Ana Mariel Teresa Labrador, Assistant Director at the National Museum, said the church was “painstakingly” brought back to the best condition possible “while remaining faithful to its perceived original intent or design”.

The project, under the contractor J.S. Lim Construction and Trading, retained the church’s original altar, painted ceiling, and architectural design.

“Six years after the typhoon, the hope of the town, the country, and the entire world that this parish church would rise again and have its former glory restored and its significance to the nation as a declared national cultural treasure be preserved was steadily realized,” she said.

The Guiuan church is well known for being the country’s only church with extensive shell ornamentation in its interiors.

Archbishop Caccia lauded the collaboration between the local church and the government “so that this heritage could be preserved”.

“This is a sign that when we work hand in hand, miracles happen. And this is an encouragement to continue in this way,” the nuncio added.

In 2007, the Vatican and the Philippine government signed an agreement recognizing that the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church in the Philippines constitutes a very significant part of the cultural patrimony of the nation.

“This kind of cooperation has been possible because of this agreement,” said Archbishop Caccia.

“Let us pray this celebration today will be an occasion for us to rediscover that we belong to each other, that we form a family, that we are brothers and sisters,” he also said. (CBCP News)

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