Tragedy strikes again

In January, the world joined together to assist the people of Haiti following the most powerful earthquake to hit the nation in over a century.  Donations came from throughout the congregation (including $20,000 from the U.S. Province), and the Generalate in Rome hosted (through the Red Cross) 116 Haitian women and children displaced by the disaster.

Just a few weeks later the island community of Maderia, Portugal, was hit by massive flooding and mudslides.  The Priests of the Sacred Heart have three communities on the island and it is also home to the family of Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, SCJ, superior general. None of his family was injured, and neither were members of the SCJ community.  However, SCJ parishes suffered significant damage.

On February 27, disaster struck again, this time in Chile with an earthquake that measured 8.8 on the Richter Scale.  Hundreds of people died, many more were injured, and the damage from the quake has left the nation in a “state of catastrophe,” said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart have several communities in Chile but again, no SCJs were hurt, nor were their families.  There was damage to several SCJ structures, including St. John Vianney parish in Santiago.  A side aisle in the church had to be closed due to damage but Mass was still celebrated in the main part of the building the day after the quake.  Our Lady of Fatima in San Bernardo also suffered extensive damage.

The congregation’s schools were also affected, including broken windows and a collapsed ceiling, but classes are still able to continue.

No damage was reported at the Sacred Heart Foundation, a center for those with substance abuse problems.

“One of the most difficult problems the country faced at first was with communications,” wrote Fr. Hernán Leemrijse, SCJ. “Being a long, narrow country with many mountains, a fallen antenna can stop communication for a wide area.  Many bridges also fell so travel has been difficult.”

“Such situations never leave us indifferent,” wrote Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho.  “We continue to express our solidarity in prayer and our support in whatever way we can to collaborate in the future reconstruction of the country.”