Pope Francis mourns death of Yolanda aid worker
MANILA, Philippines – The festive mood of the youth gathering at the University of Sto Tomas on Sunday, January 18, was briefly interrupted by a moment of silence.
Bowing his head, Pope Francis himself prayed for Kristel Mae Padasas, who died after a scaffolding by the stage where he said Mass for disaster survivors in Leyte collapsed on Saturday, January 17.
"I would like all of you, young like her, to pray in a moment of silence with me," the Pope said, referring to the incident as “sad news.”
“Let us also pray for her parents. She was the only daughter. Her mom is coming from Hong Kong. The father has come to Manila to wait," Pope Francis said.
Padasas worked with the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) during the Yolanda humanitarian crisis.
“She worked for the organization and in the preparation for that very Mass. She was 27 years old. Young like yourselves,” the Pope said. (READ: Yolanda aid worker dies after Tacloban airport scaffolding collapses)
Kristel loved to laugh
CRS, the US bishops’ international relief and development agency, also expressed grief over their young colleague’s death.
“Her colleagues remember her as someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties,” CRS said in a statement.
Kristel was based in Leyte’s neighboring Samar island, working on a project that benefits Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in the area.
“She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families,” according to CRS.
“She traveled a great distance to volunteer (for the) papal Mass and to remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”
Fought to live
Health Secretary Janette Garin, who confirmed Padasas’ death on Saturday, said she was fighting for her life when she arrived at the hospital at around 12:55 pm.
About that time, Pope Francis was rushing back to the airport to catch his 1 pm flight to Manila.
Padasas was pronounced dead at around 2 pm at the St Paul's Hospital in Tacloban City, Garin said.
According to Garin, doctors tried their best to revive Padasas but she lost too much blood due to a major injury on her head.
"It is unfortunate that it happened shortly after she was able to see the Pope in person," Garin said, extending her agency's condolences to the Padasas family. – Rappler.com