We share the testimony of Columban Fr. Miguel Howe in Chile following the earthquake:
Last night at 20:45 pm when he sang the last song of the Mass, a strong earthquake of 8.2 on the Richter scale that hit northern Chile began.
The lights dimmed and the altar candles were used to find the way out of the chapel. Following the tremor, the first breath was to give thanks to God for being alive and because parishioners had not been hurt.
The thought was then to family and friends who were in Iquique, near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where it began to sound alarms for a tsunami. After leaving some families at home, I went to my house to meet my fellow parish priest Fr. Albinus, who is an associate priest from Korea, finding him well and the house with very little damage.
Together we went to see our neighbors, all very concerned about family and friends who were in Iquique, a city about 15 miles from Alto Hospicio. Our new Bishop called us to ask how we were and join in the fellowship; he also had to leave home and seek refuge in a safe place back home around 4 am.
This morning we heard that 7 people have died in the earthquake. The water began to be distributed; the electricity suddenly begins to return to the homes. Although we have property damage and some lives have been lost, no doubt the tragedy could have been worse.
All the damage we have suffered in the buildings of the chapels postpones some of the pastoral plans, and we will spend time repairing the chapels. Our plans do not always work as we planned but our Bishop said “our help is in the name of God.”
God bring welfare to all, and I send this note to share our lives with you…
Father Miguel Howe.