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CURRENT ISSUE:  June 5, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 11Oakland, CA

Church responds quickly with quake aid

BANTUL, Indonesia (CNS) -- When the churches collapsed during Indonesia’s 6.3 earthquake, May 27, Catholics offered aid from tents.

In Baciro, the parish council met under a tent in the rectory compound after the quake that left more than 5,400 people dead and destroyed 45,000 buildings -- including the Baciro church -- in Yogyakarta and Central Java. They focused on getting help to those left homeless. “They need logistical help and medicines as soon as possible,” said Father Sari Jatmiko.

At Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Ganjuran, the parish priest, members of its pastoral council and other parishioners were also channeling aid to people affected by the disaster. Their church was among the buildings destroyed, and four people were killed when it collapsed.

The church is located in the Bantul district, the worst-hit area, where more than 3,800 people were killed and 80 percent of the homes were flattened.

Yohanes Agus Prayitno, a Ganjuran parish activist, told UCA News May 28 that he was “focusing on how to distribute aid, especially cooked food, to the survivors.” He said 30 parishioners had been busy distributing food and erecting emergency tents in the hospital compound next to the destroyed church.

Father Antonius Jarot Kusno Priyono, parish priest of the Ganjuran church, said 40 out of the 500 villagers of the predominantly Catholic hamlet of Caben were killed. Ninety percent of the houses there were totally destroyed, he said.

The Ganjuran church is a popular shrine, and Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Semarang visited it several hours after the quake and again the following day with staff of Caritas and the crisis center of the Indonesian bishops’ conference. The Semarang Archdiocese, based in Central Java, also covers the city of Yogyakarta, the former Javanese royal capital, about 55 miles to the south.

Catholic Relief Services, already working in the area to prepare for the anticipated eruption of Mt. Merapi, began an immediate distribution of shelter materials, blankets, clothing, and kitchen and hygiene kits to 5,000 quake victims.

CRS also gave funds to one of its local aid partners for medical supplies to help the organization provide medical care to 10,000 of those injured in the quake.

In Kalasan, the Marganingsih Catholic Church also was destroyed. Stefanus Sunaryo, vice chairman of the parish council, told UCA News, “We erected tents to house the survivors who could not be accommodated in the hospitals, and women (from the church) cooked for them.”

Sunaryo said he did not know where the parish women got food such as rice and instant noodles.

“It was as if the food just appeared,” he said.

With many parishes having lost members to the quake, Sunday Masses May 28 were somber affairs in area churches.

Many parishioners of the Marganingsih Church of Kalasan, just northeast of Yogyakarta, had eyes swollen from weeping. Only about 100 parishioners attended; usually about 1,000 people attend Mass in the church.

Catholic Relief Services is collecting funds for Indonesian earthquake relief.

Contributions can be sent to:
Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090
Phone: 1-800-736-3467
Online:
www.crs.org

Residents search for belongings in the ruins of their homes May 27 after an earthquake in Yogyakarta, on the Indonesian island of Java.

CNS PHOTO/CRACK PALINGGI/REUTERS


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