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Marist Bulletin - Number 174

 

Letter from the Superior General concerning the Tsunami in South East Asia
29.12.2004

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TsunamiFor the last three days so many of us have been viewing television reports and reading news accounts of the terrible tragedy and loss of life caused by the tidal waves that came ashore in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere. Some journalists place the death toll in excess of 50,000 persons. Entire villages have been destroyed; in others, the means of livelihood for many were simply swept away in this disaster.

Emili, Luis and I have been in touch with our brothers in India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia by phone and E-mail. In light of the numbers dead, it is a miracle that all of our brothers and their families appear at this point to have been spared the loss of life. In India, however, the home village of at least one brother suffered catastrophic damage. Mick Sexton, writing from Trichy, described the scene as follows:
Brother Baskar Dhasons family live in a fishing village in Kanniyakumari District on the southern tip of India. Baskar was visiting with his family for the Christmas season and returned this morning with the sad news of what had occurred there.
Around 10 A.M. in the morning, an enormous wall of water rose from the sea and swamped the whole village,destroying it within five minutes. Brick houses were flattened by the force of the water. Fishing boats by which the families derive their livelihood broke into pieces. Buses were knocked into fields; telephone and electrical services will only be restored after some time. There is nothing left of the village except rubble.
Thankfully, in Baskars village no one was killed but many were injured, particularly women and children. The destruction of all facilities made it impossible to offer the injured much practical assistance.
Whilst stunned by the damage, the people of Baskars village were also conscious that it could have been much worse. Fours hours earlier, the men would have been returning in their boats from the nights fishing and would certainly have all been killed. One day earlier, all the villagers would have been on the beach and in the water, celebrating the Christmas feast, and again there would surely have been many deaths.
Brothers, I will continue to keep you informed about this situation as it develops. There will also be ongoing reports on the Web page (www.champagnat.org). In the meantime, let us continue to pray for those who have lost their lives and for those who must begin life again with few resources and perhaps less hope than before.

At the same time, let us thank God for the safety of so many, including our brothers and their families. Through our prayers and other efforts may they find new life and a spirit of peace of mind and heart once again.

May God continue to bless and keep each of you this Christmas season.

Blessings and affection,

Brother Seán Sammon, FMS
Superior General

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