DESPITE the natural calamities that affected Cebu in 2013, Archbishop Jose Palma urged Catholics to remain cheerful and hopeful this year.

“Many times we felt fear because we don't know what the future holds. But we know who holds the future and it is in the hands of God,” he said.

In his homily during the New Year's Eve mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Palma said 2013 was the year of sadness as many people died during a 7.2 magnitude earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda.

But Palma said many “meaningful and joyful” events occurred in 2013 as well.

One of these was the installation of the image of St. Pedro Calungsod, the country's second saint, at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Palma also pointed out that out of the 44 beatified since 2000, only Calungsod was canonized.

The natural calamities, he said, also emphasize the value of life. “It is true that life is short, but it is gift that we should thank God for,” he added.

He said people should thank God for having survived the trials in 2013 and for other blessings they received during the year.

He urged Catholics to pray for those who died during the calamities last year.

Palma also announced that 2014 is the Year of the Laity and called on lay people in the parishes continue their work as “saints and heroes in their own little way.”

“We expect something good in the future, because our hope is banked on the faith and love of the Lord,” he said.