By Christina Hermoso
A Filipino priest based in Australia has appealed for prayers amid the widespread bushfires that continue to ravage wide areas of the continent.
Rev. Fr. Joel Llave, parish priest and administrator of the Saints Mary and Joseph Cathedral in Armidale, New South Wales in Australia said, that although the bushfire in their area has been controlled, wide areas continue to be affected.
“We had the bushfire around November to December that covered our area with thick smoke. It’s now under control here, and now, it’s towards the west and the south of Australia. So we really are asking for prayers for rain,” Llave said over Church-run Radio Veritas.
It is now the dry season in Australia so the light rains in some areas are just not enough to control the fire, the priest said.
“There is really a natural tendency for these bushfires because of the abundance of gum trees that have a sap that is very flammable. However, it is really very unfortunate that many houses, properties, and even wildlife have been badly affected,” Llave said.
The priest said parishes and dioceses continue to hold second collections to help affected residents.
“In our own little way, we conduct second collections for the affected families, especially last Christmas. We also have the prayer for rain. In our area, we also have water restriction,” he said.
An estimated 300 Filipinos have been affected by the bushfire in Australia, which has destroyed around 12 million acres or over four million hectares of land. A 2016 report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics said there are around 200,000 Filipinos working and living in Australia.