Quake-traumatized Catholics seek solace at Mass

Indonesian priest in hard-hit Sulawesi province seeks to balance spiritual and practical needs
Quake-traumatized Catholics seek solace at Mass

The ruins of a church belonging to the Indonesia Donggala Christian Church at Wouw Village in Palu, Central Sulawesi on Oct. 4. (Photo by Gomos Gabriel)

Hundreds of traumatized Catholics in Palu, capital of Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, have attended Masses outside the largest church there, which was damaged by the recent 7.4-magnitude earthquake that unleashed a tsunami.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the quake that hit Palu Sept. 28, as well as Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong districts, killed 1,763 people and damaged nearly 70,000 buildings.

About 2,600 people were seriously injured and more than 62,300 others had to flee their homes.

The agency said some 5,000 people were believed to be missing.

"The quake shook buildings, including our parish church," Sacred Heart Father Johanis Salaki from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Palu town, told ucanews.com Oct. 8.

The faithful, who were psychologically shaken, would run into open areas every time an aftershock occurred.

About 546 aftershocks had been recorded, Father Salaki said.

After consulting with Bishop Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu of Manado, he had been holding Sunday and daily Masses to comfort parishioners at a gazebo located in the parish church's compound.

"During this Month of the Holy Rosary, we also pray rosary for all people affected by the quake," Father Salaki said.

"They have both physical and spiritual needs, so there is a balance."

Father Salaki said the parish church has some tilted pillars and cracked walls, as well as damage to a marble ceiling, and that ornaments above the altar had fallen.

The diocese has 62 parishes in eight deaneries.

Father Salaki said he would ask the local government for help to evaluate of the condition of the church before starting renovations.

The damaged Indonesian Pentecost Church in Palu town has also been holding services.

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Inside the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Palu, Central Sulawesi after the quake. (Photo supplied by Sacred Heart Father Johanis Salaki)

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