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Torrential rain cuts off island parishes

Priests say people running out of supplies, call on government to restore transport links

Torrential rain cuts off island parishes
Villagers erecting a makeshift bridge
Fransiskus Pongly Seran, Wemer

April 27, 2011

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Torrential rain over the past several weeks on Timor island has caused extensive flooding and landslides, cutting off many parishes in Atambua diocese in East Nusa Tenggara. Areas under Malaka deanery, which has 17 parishes, have been seriously affected, including St. Mary of Fatima Church in Betun, St. Cecilia Church in Kotafoun, St. John the Apostle Church in Webriamata and St. John the Baptist Church in Besikama. Many people are running out of essential supplies for their daily needs  because vital roads and bridges are impassable, according to Father Gerard Herry Fernandes, head of Social Communication in Atambua diocese. As a result, pastoral communication is extremely difficult in these conditions and many Catholics are unable to attend services. “Pastors in the deanery are having a difficult time reaching isolated areas,” Fr. Fernandes said. He also urged local government to immediately set about reestablishing transport links. Paulus Klau, a parishioner, said he and other Catholics in his area had to travel on foot for many hours to attend Easter Mass last week. He said parishioners are working hard to mend and unblock roads particularly in the Wemer area where “land transportation is non-existent.”
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