At 8.8 at the epicenter on the Richter scale, the earthquake was one of the most powerful since recording earthquakes began. It was the fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded and lasted almost three minutes.
Speaking personally, it was a terrible shock to be awakened from deep sleep at the beginning of the earthquake. I was awakened by my small dog barking and birds outside fluttering wildly. I got up and turned the light on. Just then the earthquake started in great intensity and all the electricity cut out. I was lucky to get outside and hold on to a fence in the darkness as the earth, trees and buildings around me shook wildly. One is completely helpless, not knowing what is going to happen and trying to catch one’s breath.
We Columbans have asked the people in our parishes to pray and to help as much as possible the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami. Chile is one of the most organized countries in South America and especially well prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis.
The Columbans’ long history of collaboration with the local Church has aided our efforts to assist in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunamis. As an international society, we have the resources to respond quickly to national disasters wherever they occur. As Chile rebuilds in the aftermath of the quake, we Columbans are
challenged to become involved in the wider community beyond our parishes and keep hope alive amid so much disaster.
Fr. Dan Harding lives and works in Chile