ASIA/SRI LANKA - At least twenty lay Catholics and a nun were swept away by the tsunami as they attended Sunday Mass in church: community mourns Sr Bernadette a school sister much loved and appreciated in the diocese of Galle: Nuncio Archbishop Mario Zenari reports to Fides

Monday, 3 January 2005

Colombo (Fides Service) - A nun and at least twenty other worshippers were swept away by the fury of the tsunami as they attended Mass on Sunday 26 December at Our Lady of Victories church in Matara, Sri Lanka. So far Sr Bernadette is the only seaquake victim among Catholic church personnel in the diocese of Galle. The church, which stood only a few metres from the shore was completely destroyed. The news was reported to Fides by papal Nuncio Archbishop Mario Zenari who visited the affected areas yesterday 2 January and presided the funeral for Sr Bernadette. The Sister was was a member of the congregation of Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, a Belgian order founded in 1803. In two years time the community will celebrate its first centenary in Sri Lanka. The Sisters work in the field of education and run a number of primary and secondary schools connected with the local Catholic church in Matara. The people are very sad that Sr Bernadette was among the victims, she was deeply loved by children and parents.
In the archdiocese of Colombo two priests were injured and at least ten churches were destroyed or damaged. Churches were also damaged in the dioceses of Trincomalee-Batticaloa e Jaffna.
The Nuncio is about to visit other affected parts of the Island to co-ordinate relief aid. He told Fides, “Most of the corpses have been either buried or cremated. Now we are concentrating on helping thousands of homeless presently sheltering in churches and church structures. The next thing is to start rebuilding of homes and infrastructures to enable to people to pick up the threads of life”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 3/1/2005 righe 43 parole 466)