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updated: 11/12/2013 1:26 PM

Suburban Filipinos pray for typhoon victims, wait to hear from family

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  • Parishioners at Northwest Filipino Baptist in Elk Grove Village pray for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines during Sunday's service. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly storm.

       Parishioners at Northwest Filipino Baptist in Elk Grove Village pray for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines during Sunday's service. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly storm.
    Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

  • The Rev. Jay Catanus, right, lead pastor at Northwest Filipino Baptist Church in Elk Grove Village, prays while Justin DePaz accompanies him on guitar. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

       The Rev. Jay Catanus, right, lead pastor at Northwest Filipino Baptist Church in Elk Grove Village, prays while Justin DePaz accompanies him on guitar. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan.
    Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

  • Remy Gaare of Glendale Heights, left, and Carmelo Blancaflor of Hoffman Estates pray during a fellowship gathering after Sunday's service at Northwest Filipino Baptist Church in Elk Grove Village. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

       Remy Gaare of Glendale Heights, left, and Carmelo Blancaflor of Hoffman Estates pray during a fellowship gathering after Sunday's service at Northwest Filipino Baptist Church in Elk Grove Village. Many church members are still waiting to hear from family members in the Philippines who may have been impacted by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan.
    Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

 

Worshippers at the Northwest Filipino Baptist Church in Elk Grove Village bowed their heads and held hands Sunday as they prayed for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

The disaster was on their minds as many in the congregation of 150 still are waiting to hear from relatives in the Philippines.

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News reports estimated the death toll could climb as high as 10,000 on the island of Leyte alone in the wake of a storm that saw winds gust up to 175 mph.

"It's so real. It's like, what can we do? You're just kind of at a loss," the Rev. Jintaek Chung told worshippers Sunday. "Is there anything that I can do to help these people who are in suffering and in despair? I just want to be honest, as one of your pastors, that it's tough when things like this happen."

Church member Minnie Langeland, who lives in Westchester, said she hasn't heard from her family in the Philippines since the typhoon made landfall Friday.

"The last time I talked to my mom was the day the storm was supposed to arrive," she said. "There is no more connection. Sometimes you just cry and say, 'I hope everybody is safe in my family.'"

Lead pastor the Rev. Jay Catanus, whose father founded the church 26 years ago, said 80 percent of the 120 adults in the congregation are connected to the Philippines.

"It was a very long week for all of us," said Catanus, who finally heard from his parents in the Philippines on Saturday.

For other members of the church, even social media were limited because of the lack of power.

"A lot of our folks here have relatives who only communicate with them through telephone," he said.

Church Deacon Joe Reyes noted that the massive typhoon came just weeks after an earthquake left devastation in part of the country.

"My initial reaction was, 'Not again,'" he said. "We're just praying and waiting to get some kind of news."

Another deacon, Carmelo Blancaflor of Hoffman Estates, said he expects the casualty numbers to go up.

"Their homes are made out of cardboard or wood. There are a lot of squatters," he said. "I'm pretty sure there is more devastation."

During an emotional service, Catanus offered ways that people can help. He told church members that for the next several weeks, the church will be running a drive to collect wearable clothing, shoes, boxed food and toiletries.

If anybody wishes to donate, they can visit the church's website, www.nfbc.net or its NFBC Facebook page or call the church at (847) 352-1968.

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