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We Have Family in the Solomon Islands

Dominicans on Solomon Islands Begin to Assess Damage
and Recovery

Bishop Bernard O'Grady

GIZO, 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 Provinces

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 for.

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.

Red Cross Assistance
Red Cross 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 dangers.

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).

WYD Cross procession
World Youth 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 it.

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.





A relief fund is being established for donations. Contact Sr. Rosemary Lewins

for more information or visit the International Justice and Peace website for banking transfer information.

Diocese of Gizo

Dominicans in Australia

Did you know?

The Dominicans have been serving the people of the Solomon Islands for more than 50 years

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Since the time of St Dominic, more than 800 years ago, Dominicans have been living and sharing
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