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With much pain we have listened to the news and followed the information that has been published with regard to the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador this past Saturday (April 18). As always it is the poor who have suffered greatly. There have been more than 350 confirmed deaths and more than 1,500 people have been injured. The earthquake has had the greatest effect on the Ecuadorean coast: towns and villages and cities such as Pedernales, Manta, Protoviejo, Muisne, Bahía de Caraquez, some parts of Quayaquil. There has been no communication from some small towns such as Canoas. According to recent reports towns and villages and cities are reporting a scarcity of food.
In the General Curia we have received a brief report from the Visitor of the Congregation of the Mission, Father John Prager:
• All the confreres and Sisters are well;
• The Congrgation has no houses in the most affected areas; the Daughters do.
• Some of the houses of the Congregation experienced slight damage (cracks in the walls) and the cross on top of the school in Guayaquil fell.
• The houses of the Sisters have been damaged but we have no details yet.
• The older Sisters are going to be evacuated because there is no electricity or water in the house where they reside. Some of the Sisters spent the night in the streets with the people.
At the present time some 350 victims have been found and there are more than one thousand injured people in the coastal area. These number will increase (at the present time there are more than one thousand persons unaccounted for and there is fear they are buried in the buildings that collapsed).
Thousands of houses in the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas have been destroyed and/or damaged. Because the roads and bridges have been affected and because there is no electricity, communication is slow and there is much that is not known. The Sisters are organizing n team of Vincentian Volunteers who will be going to the most affected areas and there they will provide assistance to the victims. The parishes of the Congregation are receiving food, clothing, medicine and money … all of which will be distributed to the victims of this disaster.
Sister Ana Maria Maldonado, the Visitatrix of the Daughters of Charity, in a letter to the Sisters of the Province, stated the following:
Through means of this letters I extend to you my fraternal greeting and the prayers of all the members of the Provincial House, as well as the prayers of our Superior Generals, the Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean who have manifested a great concern and expressed their solidarity with the people of this country who have suffered greatly as a result of the earthquake that devastated the coastal areas.
I want to inform you that the sisters of Manta, Bahía, Topsagua, Chone, Esmeralda, San Lorenzo and Guayaquil have suffered emotionally, some of their houses have been greatly damaged, but thanks be to God all are safe. In order to prevent any greater harm, the sisters at Manta are being transferred to more secure places.
At this time, in addition to prayers, there is need for humanitarian assistance. Those who are able to should reach out to our brothers and sisters who need help. These events demand that we become present in those places where there has been the greatest damage. We need to put aside our daily routine in order to go as quickly as possible to assist our brothers and sisters.
Therefore, the Sisters and lay Vincentians who are willing to offer their assistance can call Sister Melania Granda who will be organizing this effort. If you want to offer food or clothing or other supplies, you can bring such material to the Provincial House San Carlos as well as the Miraculous Medal House or you can communicate with Sister Esthela Castro.
May the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, protect our country and comfort all those families who weep and mourn the loss of their loves ones. May the faith and the hope of all our people continue to be strengthened by Our Sorrowful Mother, the Protector of Our Nation.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
This is the house of Father Alvaro, an elderly Spanish diocesan priest who has spent his whole life ministering in Santo Domingo. For many years he was the spiritual advisor for the members of the John XXIII Movement.
Minutes before the earthquake, Father left his house to take a walk and get some fresh air (the day had been a very hot day). He had just left the house when the earth began to move and when he turned around to look at his house, he saw that it had been destroyed. His friends in the movement went to him … they found him and also saw that his house had been destroyed. At the present time his friends in Santo Domingo have provided him with lodging.