Saturday, March 06, 2010

El terremoto en Chile.

El Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Plaza de Tribunales, Concepción, Chile (source).

Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de María, Linares, Chile (source).

Pichilemu, Chile (source).

Pichilemu, Chile (source).

Pichilemu, Chile (source).

The people of Chile have been much on my mind and in my prayers over the past week. With the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti still fresh in the world's collective consciousness, a new humanitarian crisis now demands the attention of the global community. Though the human and material toll of the Chilean earthquake and resulting tsunami remain very serious, the country is fortunate to possess the kind of infrastructure and resources that should allow for a relatively fast recovery. Even so, prayers and direct assistance are still needed.

As longtime readers of this blog may recall, I spent a month in Chile in the summer of 2008. Because of my experiences in the country, last Saturday's earthquake hit me personally in a way that it might not have otherwise. When I first heard about the earthquake, I immediately wondered about the well-being of the people I got to know in Chile. Contact with Chilean Jesuits offered the consoling assurance that they and their loved ones were safe and sound. Even so, I still wonder about others - for example, individuals I encountered only in passing but still vividly remember - whose fate will likely remain unknown to me.

Viewing photographs taken in the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake, I've sometimes come across images of places that I recognize. Three of the above photos were taken in Pichilemu, a small seaside town located about two hundred kilometers south of Valparaiso. During my time in Chile, I spent a week in Pichilemu with a group of Chilean scholastics. Like a number of other cities and towns located along Chile's Pacific coast, Pichilemu was hard-hit by the tsunami that followed the earthquake. Looking at pictures of Pichilemu as it is now, I feel an acute sense of loss and an even greater desire to stand in solidarity with the people of Chile in this time of crisis.

Long a vibrant force in Chilean national life, the Society of Jesus is playing an active role in efforts to help the Chilean people recover from the effects of the earthquake. If you want to offer assistance, there are many ways in which you may do so. The Chilean Jesuits have a page on their website describing some of the most urgent needs. Two Jesuit-founded social service organizations, Hogar de Cristo and Un Techo para Chile, are actively involved in relief efforts and could use all the help they can get. In the United States, the Maryland Province Jesuits have established a Chile Relief Fund and are seeking contributions to aid survivors of the earthquake. I hope that you will consider supporting these important efforts. More importantly, though, I hope that you will join me in praying for the people in Chile. AMDG.


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