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Fewer at Mass in quake-damaged parish

Lack of statues and language problems keep people away from shelter

Fewer at Mass in quake-damaged parish
The makeshift replacement church reporter, Thiri

April 21, 2011

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Regular church attendances have decreased at Sunday masses after the earthquake that hit parts of Shan state in northern Burma in March, according to the parish priest of the destroyed St.Joseph's church in Thiri parish. Father Bosco Ya Byaw said yesterday that few Catholics attend at the makeshift replacement of bamboo posts with thatched roof for Sunday masses though the church was filled with many faithful before the quake struck. "We need to do something to deepen the faith of the villagers, that is to rebuild the damaged church as soon as possible," Fr. Byaw said. Margaret, 29, a parishioner from the church, said that it was an  unusual feeling during the Sunday Mass in the temporary premises. "It’s very different from the real Church as we haven’t seen any statues, especially the statue of St. Joseph who we have great devotion for." Another reason for decreasing church attendance may be language difficulty, according to Margaret. "We used to have Sunday Mass in our ethnic language before the earthquake struck our village. Now we feel like something is needed during the Mass, as we all are not fluent in Myanmar language," said Margaret. Another parishioner, Peter Than Tun, 50, said that he felt very sad when he saw the collapsed church after the earthquake on 24th March. "But the chance of getting a new Church will be a good opportunity that comes from the worst, if we consider it in a positive way." Fr. Stephen Ano, director of Karuna Kengtung Social Service, said they would "try our best to find donors for the convenience of the villagers who have lost their churches." "I do really thank and appreciate the two local donors who will donate fully for the reconstruction of the Holy Trinity church in Mong Lin and St.Joseph’s Church in Thiri," said Fr. Ano. In the quake, seven Catholic Churches including Mong Lin and Thiri parishes were completely destroyed, two more have partially collapsed and seven Church run boarding schools were damaged, according to Fr. Ano.

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