Typhoon Haiyan: Northern Ireland churches join together in day of prayer for victims
Congregations across Northern Ireland, including hundreds of Filipino families left devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, have joined together in prayer for the dead and survivors of the tragedy.
Services and collections were held in churches across denominations a week after disaster struck killing more than 3,500 people and injuring over 12,000.
In St Vincent de Paul parish in Ligoniel, north Belfast over 400 parishioners joined with up to 30 local Filipino families in a special service celebrated by Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor.
At the same time churches in the Greater Shankill area said prayers and organised collections from their congregations as part of a week-long Philippines Typhoon Appeal organised by local DUP MLA William Humphrey.
Parish priest of St Vincent de Paul parish, Fr Patrick Devlin said that parishioners had been overwhelming in their support for the local Filipino community and those injured in the Philippines in the last week and this was reflected in the church being filled to capacity for their 11am service.
"We have around 25 to 30 Filipino families in our community and our doors were open to anyone who wished to come along and pray with us and lend their support. From my experience the Filipino community are faithful, prayerful and most importantly hopeful people and a service is what they wanted and needed."
Fr Devlin said there had been full involvement from across the congregation including prayers from St Vincent de Paul Primary School and a testimony from local Filipino woman Dr Lilac O'Hara before Bishop Treanor spoke to the congregation on the importance of church, faith and solidarity.
Dr O'Hara told those gathered: "It is at this time that Filipinos all over the world show solidarity to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We are so grateful and so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and assistance that we have received from people all over the world, from our colleagues, our local community and the local churches."
A representative from the charity Trocaire told the congregation £145,000 had so far been raised locally for the emergency relief fund.
And across the religious divide in north Belfast, a week-long sit-out to gather donations for the Philippines Typhoon Appeal was backed by a number of churches.
On Saturday morning, churches, youth and community groups and sports clubs in the Greater Shankill area, along with residents and elected representatives, volunteered to take turns supervising the public collection outside the office of DUP MLA William Humphrey at Park Gate House on Woodvale Road.
At services yesterday morning in West Kirk Presbyterian Church, St Matthews Church of Ireland, Shankill Baptist Church, Welcome Evangelical Church and Shankill Church of God, parishioners were asked to donate for the victims and a joint collection appeal was issued.
Mr Humphrey said: "The Filipino community in Northern Ireland makes a significant contribution to society here. This appeal is one way that we can show our appreciation."