TACLOBAN CITY- With Pope Francis visit to Leyte now definite, preparations are now underway including widening of roads where the Holy Father is expected to travel during his visit next year.

This was revealed by Engineer Dionisio de Paz, chief of the City Engineering Office of Tacloban government, who added that they have started the road widening three weeks ago.

As this developed, Father Amadeo Alvero, spokesperson of the Palo archdiocese, said that since August 1, masses for a “successful and meaningful” papal visit have been held in all churches within the archdiocese.

Pope Francis is to visit the Philippines on January 15 to 19 and expressed his desire to meet victims of supertyphoon Yolanda.

Yolanda, considered the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the world, pummeled Eastern Visayas with Tacloban considered the hardest hit area killing more than 2,000 people with damaged to properties and infrastructures of more than P25 billion.

de Paz said that the roads that are being widen-10 meters from the center- covers about 11 kilometers starting from San Jose Area, where the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport is located, up to the nearby town of Palo, where the Palo Cathedral is located.

“This road widening is being done due to the visit of the Pope next year and we expect to finish the work by November,” de Paz said.

He, however, could not say yet as to how many houses and even establishments are to be affected by this road widening.

The city engineer also said that the visit of the Holy Father had hastened their plan to implement the road widening in Tacloban.

de Paz said that once finished, the roads identified under their project would now become four-lane roads, enough to accommodate the expected influx of road users during the Pope visit.

Meantime, Fr. Alvero said that for security reason, they could not divulge where the Pope would conduct his Mass.

“The details of itinerary of activities of the Pope visit will be announced later for security reasons. What is certain is that Pope Francis will visit us, victims of the supertyphoon Yolanda. And for this, we

the faithful, are asked to prepare ourselves spiritually in prayer and in being merciful and compassionate to our brothers and sisters in need,” Alvero said.

He also said that, Archbishop John Du had asked all priests within the archdiocese of Palo to conduct masses for the coming visit of the Pope and for it to become successful and meaningful.

The masses started on August 1 and are to end on January, in time of the scheduled visit of the Holy Father.

“We are all excited for the visit of the Vicar of Christ. This will be a moment of joy and thanksgiving for us victims and survivors of Yolanda. The Pope’s visit will surely inspire us and give us hope,” Alvero said.

Pope Francis would become the first ever Holy Father to visit Eastern Visayas, home to 4 million Catholics.