Quake, Cyclone Strike Australia

HNP Communications Franciscan World

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — While the friars of Holy Spirit Province in the Region of St. Andrew are all safe and sound, they are dealing with death and destruction following the Feb. 22 earthquake.

Approximately 160 people died in the quake, which rocked the city of Christchurch. In the friars’ March newsletter, Provincial Bulletin, they discuss the rebuilding efforts. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, a 106-year-old Roman Renaissance-style church, was severely damaged. “The latest reports do not sound promising for this wonderful building,” the newsletter said.

“The greatest thing to come out of this earthquake is the unity and support that is being given to the people of Christchurch,” said friar Bernie Thomas, OFM, a regional vocation director and director of the St. Francis Retreat Centre in Mount Roskill, who related first-hand experiences of the earthquake. “Please keep us all in your prayers.”

The earthquake was not the only disaster to hit the “friar “down under” recently. On Feb. 2, North Queensland, Australia, was hit by a cyclone. Friar Giles Setter, OFM, needed to preside at a funeral service in the midst of the cyclone, but returned safely.

The local church was without power for several days, but escaped the cyclone. “Only a little water seeped in behind the altar and some metal sheeting on the roof damaged, according to the friar who described the cyclone in the February 2011 Provincial Bulletin.

— Compiled by Wendy Healy