Sometimes big storms also bring big blessings.
That is a lesson Adorno Father Teodoro “Ted” Kalaw has learned in recent weeks.
He has been organizing fundraising efforts statewide to repair damage to his order’s Theology House in Lipa City, Philippines, which was hit by Typhoon Glenda in mid-July.
Father Kalaw, parochial vicar at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg, originally helped raise funds to build the house by holding concerts with two of his fellow Adorno priests. He was overjoyed when the home to five seminarians was completed in June.
Barely a month later, the storm hit and his spirits were crushed.
“I kind of felt destroyed, asking ‘What is going on, I don’t understand,” the priest said. “But I learned that God has a better plan, God will make it stronger if we build our faith in Him.”
The actual structure of the house was spared, but much of the surrounding soil was washed away, causing flooding and massive drainage problems which led to cracks in the building. The garage was destroyed and the one car the seminarians used was washed away.
There was no insurance available so the full cost to fix the property damage fell to the Adorno Fathers.
Father Kalaw said the repairs alone totaled more than $65,000, on top of the money that was still owed on the new building.
Despite his sadness, he and his fellow Adornos in South Carolina prayed and decided to do what they could. They received permission from Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone to take up second collections for the repair efforts. He said about $11,000 was raised at Jesus Our Risen Savior, and donations came to $15,000 at Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. A future collection is planned at St. Philip Benizi Church in Moncks Corner.
Individuals also donated privately.
After all the giving was done, more than $130,000 had been raised, enough to complete the repairs, pay off the mortgage debt on the house and purchase a new car for the seminarians.
Father Kalaw will travel to the Philippines soon to check on the work, which he said is about 95 percent complete.
“Because of the repairs, the Theology House is now stronger because the drainage has been fixed, so no matter what water comes, it won’t be affected,” Father Kalaw said. “The overwhelming support and response of the people was amazing. This experience has not only strengthened the structure, but strengthened our faith. No storm can destroy us. Maybe our property was damaged, but never our faith.”