In May 2017, Marawi a city of over 200,000 people in the South of the Philippines was overtaken by jihadists. They attacked the cathedral on May 23rd and kidnapped the parish priest who finally escaped 4 months later. The city was under siege for nearly five months and was destroyed.

In January 2017, under a heavy military escort, a small delegation including Aid to the Church in Need personnel was able to enter the perimeter originally named Ground zero. This was the first delegation to enter the area since the war and it included the Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Peña.

As he approached his church for the first time since 22nd May 2017, he later confessed that he felt his heart break. The first thing he did was to kneel in silence and in prayer in front of the devastated altar.

The bishop’s residence, just in front of the cathedral and where he had been living for the past 16 years, was also totally destroyed.

Bringing the Christian population back home and re-building peace in this land which has been so tortured by militant Islamic fundamentalists is now the Bishop’s top priority.

This good shepherd and his flock need our help. Helping him fulfil his mission is the mission of Aid to the Church in Need.

This article can be found in Mirror 0218.