, 16 April, 2020 / 7:19 AM
Initiatives toward the reconstruction of church structures at one of the parishes in Mozambique following last year’s Cyclone Idai that caused catastrophic damages have borne fruit, a Mozambican cleric has shared, acknowledging the help from various quarters.
“The situation in the parish is currently good. Thanks to the post-Idai reconstruction fund of the diocese we managed to have the roof of the Church, sacristy and the total rehabilitation of the parish house,” Fr. Diamantino Andrade, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in the outskirts of Mozambique’s Beira Archdiocese told Radio Pax in an interview published April 14.
“It was very beautiful and gratifying to see the human enthusiasm for solidarity, to understand that we all suffered, but there were those who suffered more than we did,” Fr. Andrade recalled the situation at his parish since the March 2019 storm and observed, “The sense and spirit of belonging was created and felt in young people, where it was beautiful to hear young people saying: our Church has fallen, but we are going to raise it.”
On the night of March 14-15, 2019, Cyclone Idai lashed the port city of Beira in central Mozambique with strong winds and high floods before heading to inland Zimbabwe and Malawi.
In the wake of the storm, at least 1,000 people lost their lives across the three countries, millions were displaced and since they had lost their homes and livelihoods, all the displaced were desperate for humanitarian assistance, OXFAM International reported.
The UN termed the cyclone as potentially one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region.
Mozambique’s second largest city, Beira was the worst hit city with first responders describing seeing thousands of victims of the cyclone “stranded on rooftops, in trees and other elevated areas,” Unicef spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told BBC.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported that more than 90 percent of Beira was destroyed.
The storm collapsed three parishes in the Archdiocese of Beira while 22 others were badly damaged; 60 chapels and the Archbishop's residence were also damaged, the Archdiocese posted on its Facebook page soon after the cyclone struck.
“The consequences left by the cyclone were notorious the next morning and to this day. Parish houses, churches and Catholic schools destroyed,” Fr. Andrade recalled the aftermath of the cyclone and added, “Lack of everything: water, energy, telephone, access roads, slow-air families, lifeless bodies, lack of morgue to preserve the bodies, families to live with their dead for more than 3 days.”
The Mozambican cleric described the phenomenon as a “difficult and tremendous experience in the face of life and the faith that was being called into question.”
Immediately after the cyclone, some activities such as making the faithful aware of the moment they were living in, encouraging them, welcoming them into the houses and encouraging those who they had lost everything were undertaken, Fr. Andrade recalled.
He added, “Prayer conditions were created in the pavilion, cleaning and removal of rubble as well as cleaning the entire courtyard of the Church of Fátima.”
Our Lady of Fatima Parish is the first among the affected churches to undergo complete reconstruction, a success Fr. Andrade attributes to the solidarity of parishioners, support of the Archdiocese, and the generosity of well-wishers.
At the level of the Archdiocese, several initiatives emerged, among them the formation of the Activists of Charity group, which Fr. Andrade says, “did a great job with disadvantaged and affected people and families. They served as arms and eyes for the parish priest to which he had to arrive, and reinforcement for the Charity Commission.”
He added in reference to the Activists of Charity group, “They created a new dynamic in the Ministry of Charity as their work was carried out in the maximum consultation between the animators of the community, justice and peace and charity.”
The Parish also received help from parishioners of the Parish of Our Lady of Aparecida of Rio Claro in São Paulo, Brazil and friends of Montegalda, Italy who facilitated the electrification and ventilation of the church.
Fr. Andrade considers the challenges of reconstructing his parish as a “gesture of solidarity with those parishes or houses that have no way or where to start.”
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