Priest returns from disaster-ravaged Philippines

Slidell, La. - In the gleaming sanctuary of St. Genevieve Church, Father Jose Roel Lungay gave his first mass since returning home.

Lungay traveled to the Philippines more than a month ago to undergo tests for a kidney transplant.

Two days after arriving, an earthquake devastated the area where Lungay's family lives.

"Seeing people living in streets and without anything because basically for the most part people are still living outside, they don't want to go inside," he says.

The magnitude 7.2 quake destroyed homes and churches.

Lungay says people were begging for the most basic of needs.

"All they ask, beg, when they see a stranger is, do you have water, and show you their bottles, two big bottles of water without anything," he says. "It's just painful to see."

Lungay posted a plea for help on Facebook and a second one just a few weeks later.

He was still in the Philippines when Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed the area around Tacloban.

He says people from his church community responded overwhelmingly.

Church members say it's easy to understand what's going on now in the Philippines because they went through it too just eight years ago.

Tita Espiritu lost her home in Arabi.

"The thing that really makes me so emotional about helping because I was there," says Espiritu. "I had that experience to be helped."

It took six long years to build a new sanctuary for St. Genevieve Church after the old one flooded.

Lungay used his experience here to help those now beginning to rebuild.

'They were kind of surprised I know something so I said, 'I came through Katrina,'" he says. "They gave us 10 years to get back and we're still on the eighth year and I'm still seeing that even in people I know still suffering."

Following the double blow, Lungay knows the recovery in the Philippines will take years.

But just like his church community in Slidell came back stronger, he believes the island nation can too.