SANTIAGO, CHILE – In a message to his Mercedarian confreres throughout the world, Fr. Mariano Labarca Araya, Provincial Superior of the Mercedarian Province of Chile, thanked all of us for our prayers, greetings, and fraternal presence in spirit.
Fr. Mariano informed us that all of the Mercedarian friars, sisters, and family members were well. Praise the Lord! Though he has lived through seven earthquakes, Fr. Mariano has found this one to be especially difficult and life changing.
The church and convent in Rancagua were severely damaged, requiring the Province to move the novices to Santiago. The tower of the Church in Melipilla suffered serious damage, where as the gymnasium in Valpraiso suffered relatively minor damage. As of yet, the Province has not been able to receive direct communications from Concepción, however they have heard that the church suffered damage and our school has structural damage. Amazingly, there is little or no damage at the convent in Concepción.
The Mercedarian sisters in Constitución were affected by the tsunami. At their home for the aged, they were able to save the lives of the elderly and themselves by fleeing to higher ground. Unfortunately, two of the elderly lost their lives. The sisters and those in their care are currently taking refuge in a shelter.
Fr. Mariano also said that the home for the newborn children in Talca is suffering from lack of food, but the religious are working to bring them assistance.
As you may have read in the media, Chile is the most modernized of the South American nations, however, Fr. Mariano says that the “mega earthquake” has made them aware of how fragile the communications network can indeed be. Communication, energy, banking, commerce, and groceries are severely limited. Our brothers and sisters are learning to be “content with the simple things in life.”
The Mercedarians here in the United States continue to offer our prayers for our brothers and sisters in Chile, and ask all of you for your continued prayers and support.
Here is a SMALL sampling of the damage: