Have Family in the Solomon Islands
on Solomon Islands Begin to Assess Damage
|Bishop Bernard O'Grady
SI - April 23, 2007--In spite of widespread devastation and destruction
from a tsunami that hit the western Solomon Islands April 2nd, the
people of Gizo came together to celebrate Easter Sunday. Asked
what he told the people on that morning, Bishop Bernard O’Grady
of the Gizo diocese said that he opened the Mass sharing a reading
from Hosea, “In
their affliction, they shall look for me: Come, let us return to
the Lord. For it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has
struck us, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two
days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.”
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced that Monday,
April 23, 2007 will be declared a National Day of Mourning
for those who died in the tsunami that struck the Western and Choiseul
Relief agents like Red Cross, Caritas Australia
and the United Nations report that the greatest need is
for tents and tarpaulins for those still without shelter,
mosquito nets, bedding, water containers and fuel. Relief
and recovery aid is slowly reaching the remote parts of
the islands. The
number of dead is now over 50 and there are still people unaccounted
On the island of Loga, where the Dominican sisters
and friars have
formation programs, no one was hurt. Some local power is being obtained
from a small portable generator. The clinic is operating, though
supplies have been water damaged. The Sisters house is relatively
undamaged. Other buildings are useable, but badly damaged. The priests’ house
has suffered major foundation damage.
worker delivers supplies to tsunami survivors
Much of the infrastructure has been badly damaged or destroyed.
A relief fund has been established at Santa Sabina, US Dominicans
are urged to make donations.
RADIO New Zealand reports that a child protection specialist is leaving
for Solomon Islands this weekend to help children cope with the aftermath of
the tsunami and to ensure that they are not abducted. Amalia Fawcett of World
Vision, will provide psycho-social support to children and communities affected
in Gizo, Simbo and Ranongga islands. Ms Fawcett says that children are incredibly
vulnerable because of the fear of another tsunami, aftershocks and family stress
at losing their homes.
She will work alongside other relief organizations and Solomon Islands
government ministries to develop and implement a child protection program.
Although there have been no reports of child abduction, Ms Fawcett
says one of her roles will be to ensure that people are aware of the
In a poignant reminder of its significance, the World Youth Day
Cross came to the tsunami-struck Solomon Islands diocese of Gizo
- and organisers said they were determined that the visit to the
grief-stricken community would go ahead. The Gizo diocese received
the World Youth Day Cross and Icon of Our Lady as part of the holy
symbols' journey to Sydney for next year's World Youth Day (WYD08).
Day cross and icon is processed through the streets of Gizo
"We had already decided to provide special assistance so that
the Cross and Icon could travel to Gizo and now that this tragedy
has occurred we are more determined than ever.
"The Cross and Icon have travelled to every inhabited continent, carrying
the Catholic Church's message of reconciliation and hope to places in need
of hope - most recently through Africa and now through Asia and the Pacific," Bishop
Anthony said. "The Cross is a symbol of Christ's solidarity with
all those who suffer." At this tragic time in Gizo, the
World Youth Day Cross and Icon are special signs of Australia's prayerful
support for the people of the Solomon Islands."
A parade from the wharf to the front of the battered Cathedral
brought the cross to Bishop Bernard O'Grady O.P. who welcomed
The Cathedral has become a symbol of people and places badly damaged
but not destroyed. Although the tower and front of the Cathedral
have been severely damaged, the glass cross in the tower escaped
destruction and the WYD Cross was slowly raised in front of it to
link the two Crosses, signify a rising-up and as a mark of respect.
The Cross was then lowered and taken with the Icon in procession
to the side of the Cathedral where hundreds of people gathered in
the open. Earlier that morning, several hundred people had attended
the open-air Mass in the same location.