Indonesia’s fight with natural disasters

Burn victims are taken for help following the eruption of Mt. Merapi. Photo by SUSANTO/AFP/Getty Images

Worldwide congregation rallies to help Indonesia

Posted below is a letter written by Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, regarding the tragic natural disasters that have affected Indonesia.  As noted in the November 8 Fridge Notes, the U.S. Province donated $25,000 toward relief efforts following the eruption of Mt. Merapi.  The entire worldwide congregation is joining together to assist those affected by the brutal natural disasters that have plagued Indonesia.

“At this moment there are still many refugees in our Scholasticate [seminary], and we don’t know when this situation will end,” wrote Fr. Madya, provincial superior of the Indonesian Province.  “Our concern will soon focus on what to do after the immediate tragedy.  We have to help people rebuild their houses, to restart their normal lives.  Some of the families of our SCJs and students have been significantly affected. With the help of other provinces we will try to help them as best as we can.”

Fr. Ornelas writes:

Dear Confreres,

You will have heard by now that Indonesia has once more been hit by a number of natural disasters. First, flash floods hit the Wasior District of West Papua, killing more than 110 people. Many are still missing. Thousands had to leave their homes to reach higher land. Then an earthquake and a tsunami affected the Mentawai islands of the West Sumatra Province, causing the deaths of more than 400 people. Here too hundreds of people are still missing and thousands had to leave their homes. On the same day, the Merapi Volcano began its series of eruptions. The Merapi Volcano is about 25 km [approximately 15 miles] from our scholasticate in Yogyakarta. The eruptions devastated many villages. More than 200 people have lost their lives. In this disaster there are more than 300.000 refugees, some of whom are housed in our house in Yogyakarta. All the Indonesian communities have been asked to provide whatever help they can provide and to collect money for their sisters and brothers in need.

Because of its location, Indonesia is often hit by such natural disasters. Last year a strong earthquake hit Padang, West Sumatra. In each case the deaths and the loss of houses and the destruction of property cause deep mourning, and despair. We ask you to pray for those who have died and for those who are affected by these powerful natural disasters. Our Indonesian confreres have also appealed to the congregation to help them to help those affected by the destruction. As in previous occasions, your solidarity will be deeply appreciated not only by our confreres but also by the local population.

On behalf of the Indonesian Province and the Indonesian people, we send you greetings in the compassionate Heart of Jesus,

Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, scj
General Superior
and his Council