Australian priest prays for volcano evacuees

Fr Thomas Casanova with Confraternity of Christ the Priest seminarians in the Philippines in October (The Catholic Leader/Fr Thomas Casanova)

An Australian priest who three months ago visited a volcano in the Philippines that is now flowing lava into towns south of Manila has shared his anxiety about the hazardous explosion. Source: The Catholic Leader.

By Emilie Ng, The Catholic Leader

Confraternity of Christ the Priest Fr Thomas Casanova, who is based in Wagga Wagga Diocese, walked up the Taal volcano in October last year while visiting three Vietnamese seminarians studying in Manila to be priests for the congregation.

Fr Casanova said his group walked with a guide for about 30 minutes to the top of the volcano’s crater.

The volcano is one of the country’s most active and sits in the middle of a volcanic freshwater lake. Fish farmers skirt across the lake providing a major economy in the town of around 2000 people.

“We were able to look out over the largest volcanic lake in the world, and also see gas coming out of some fissures, and inside the crater another body of water, greenish and bubbling in places,” Fr Casanova said.

On Sunday, Fr Casanova received messages from locals he met in the neighbouring villages of Tagaytay, Lipa, home to the local seminary, Mabini and Calaca.

“They knew that one day Taal would erupt, and they messaged me asking for prayers,” Fr Casanova said.

“Not only could they see the huge column of ash from their homes up to 40km away, but they were soon expressing fear due to the earthquakes and the ash which has turned a huge area of lush greens to greyscale. I shared their anxiety. Especially I was concerned for the kind people I met on Taal island. I have since heard from a priest of the Lipa Diocese that they all escaped in time.”

Thousands of people were evacuated from nearby as officials warned the volcano could reach a hazardous Level 5 incident within hours or days.

“Everyone is now watching to see if a worse eruption will follow, one with lava and rocks, and more ash,” Fr Casanova said. “So we are praying.”

The seminary in Tagaytay, run by the Society of the Divine Word, were among the safe havens that opened their doors to receive evacuees requiring shelter.

FULL STORY

Australian priest who stood on Taal volcano, now erupting, keeps evacuees in his prayers (The Catholic Leader)

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