I am sure many people are concerned about the Maryknoll Missioners in Chile. Here is some of the news we have so far:
Sister Ann Hayden MM was able to communicate with Sister Mary Tracey MM and she said that all of the sisters are OK. You can read a report from the Sisters in Chile here. You can also make a donation to the Maryknoll Sisters' work in Chile here.
Father Dale Barron MM was able to call the Fr. Ed McGovern MM to let him know he is OK.
UPDATE From an email of March 1st from Ed McGovern MM, Secretary General of the Society:
I’ve received two phone calls from Fr. Dale Barron in Chile within the past half hour. Both Fr. Fred Hegarty and Br. John Nitsch are safe.Fr. Dale informed me on the first call that Fr. Fred got back to Santiago from the countryside early this morning. There is neither electricity nor telephone service where Fr. Fred is. But Fr. Fred was able to get word to Fr. Dale that he is OK.
Fr. Dale advised me on his second call that Br. John had gotten word (through a mobile phone) to a staff member at the Center House that he is one his way up to Santiago and hopes to arrive by mid-day. All four of our men hope to get together today.
We truly give thanks to God for this most welcome news. Our prayers continue for the Chilean people.
There is more from the Fathers and Brothers here.
As for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Cecilia Espinoza writes, "The Bosses are in El Quisco safe and sound. As well as Judy Ress who’s back in Santiago." They are still trying to contact the others.
Click on Read more to read some additional news on the situation in Chile. Please keep the people of Chile and the Maryknollers who work with them in your prayers.
The following are excerpts from an email from the Executive Director of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Sam Stanton:
[Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner] Mary Sue Smiaroski called me early this morning to let me know about the earthquake that hit central Chile around 1 a.m. EST. After turning on the Spanish news and seeing the intensity of the quake I immediately came to Bethany. Cecilia is in Chile facilitating the rural orientation program we have done for years with Notre Dame and Marquette students. She and her 24 students traveled from Linares to Santiago yesterday, fortunately. The epicenter is near Cuaquenes which is an hour and a half from Linares.
We all are of course concerned about our many friends in the area of Linares. Many of the kids good friends study in Concepcion so please keep these young people and all of Chile in your prayers this weekend.
Cecilia Espinoza, who has been in Chile with the Notre Dame students, wrote the following:
I returned from Linares (the epicenter of the earthquake took place 1 hour west of Linares) with 24 Notre Dame and Marquette students yesterday. That was very fortunate as the area where we were was the place of the epicenter (8.8 Richter scale) Talca is very affected, almost on the floor. Several tidal waves have affected the zone too.
Chile is also cut in two, because several bridges collapsed and the Panamerican Highway is not passable.
Santiago suffer some damages, the earthquake was 8 in the Richter scale, but the construction is earthquake proof because, Chile has a history of earthquake.
In a second note, Cecilia wrote:
Over 44 hrs have passed since the earthquake. Little by little I have been able to contact people in the 7th Region where the epicenter was and where Linares is located and the zone most affected.
Most of the news is about the city of Concepcion, which by no doubt suffered as much as the Maule region. But it is important to know that there is less information about the Maule because it is a bit less populated but it was the location of the epicenter . There has been no media available, in this moment the only available radio for the region is the San Antonio parish radio (parish of Father Waldo Alfaro). The Region (likes states in the US) of Maule has 70% of the confirmed deaths and disappeared of the official numbers. Several coastal towns in the region were wiped out by a Tsunami among them ILOCA.
I called all the places and people I visited with the Notre Dame and Marquette students, among them Nirivilo that actually has no connection but Fr. Waldo Alfaro visited the village and told me that it is an incredible desolation to see the town totally destroyed. For Samuel and me and our kids this it so sad. This village was our first mission site with Maryknoll. Waldo only mentioned the family of good friends Javier and Maria Caceres, where the students had lunch and where they visited the old fashioned wine cellars, the indigenous weaving, etc. The house was destroyed and Javier needed to rescued some family members from under the building. Besides that I have no news about the rest of the families with whom we lived and worked. I hope to get more details tomorrow.
Constitucion was another town we visited. It is impressive to see images where we saw a beautiful parade of folk groups in the plaza which is a couple of miles from the beach blocks from the river. Now there are boats in the middle of the plaza and the coastline and beach has disappeared.
The city of Linares suffered a lot of damage and many of the colonial houses are destroyed and some other downtown buildings including the chancellery offices of the Diocese of Linares. The house of the bishop and the Cathedral also suffered damage.
The community of San Dionisio, where the students stayed is OK. They only suffered some minor damage but the fear of the on going tremors is constant. The movements don’t cease. There have been more than 110 aftershocks and some over level 6 in Santiago. Linares had one this morning over level 7.
There is no doubt that the building construction, especially in Santiago has proven to be asysmic, because the damage in the buildings has been minor. My country has been through so many earthquakes in our history that we have improved our technology each time we rebuild. Most of the buildings that collapsed are the old buildings. LA MONEDA (presidential palace) was also damaged. Also several of the old and beautiful churches in Santiago are partially destroyed as well as some museums. There a couple of new buildings that collapsed but miraculously without victims.
In this moment Caritas Chile directed by Father Waldo Alfaro is providing all type of help for the victims of the earthquake in the 7th region, especially in the Diocese of Linares. I will send more information to those interested in helping and how that can be facilitated. We also ask for your prayers. La Virgen del Carmen, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the patroness of Chile. Everyone here is asking that she hold her people in her loving arms and protect them and give consolation to those who have lost loved ones. Please join our people in asking for her protection and the guidance of her son.
In gratitude and peace,
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