.- The Bishops’ Conference of Chile issued a statement this morning on the ongoing rescue efforts to bring the 33 trapped miners to the surface at the San Jose Mine and reunite them with their families.
The miners have been trapped under a half-mile of rock deep beneath Chile's Atacama Desert since the mine shaft collapsed Aug. 5. Rescue workers originally projected that the miners would be free in late December.
The first of the miners was brought to the surface on Oct. 13 and rescue officials now say it is possible that all will be free within a day.
In a statement titled, “Chile is experiencing an Easter Morning,” the bishops' press office noted that “the word of God is being proclaimed with force” outside the mine, “as the first miners have been brought to the surface and reunited with their families.” The statement added that prayers of gratitude have characterized the rescue efforts. “Some have offered up prayers as soon as they walked out of the capsule Phoneix 2, which carried them to safety.”
“While prayer vigils are being carried out throughout the country and will conclude with rescue of the last miner, a grateful and emotional nation closely follows operation ‘San Lorenzo,’ as this rescue effort has been dubbed” in honor of St. Lawrence, continued the bishops' conference.
St. Lawrence is the patron of miners.
The Chilean bishops “have invited all communities to continue praying and thanking the God of life for this Easter moment which we are all witnessing,” the statement said.
Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago joined numerous other Chilean bishops for a Mass and prayer vigil that began at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, coinciding with the beginning of the rescue effort.
Earlier this week, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, encouraged the faithful to intensify their prayers for the success of the rescue operation. “This is an opportune moment for the entire Church to unite in this prayer of faith and hope,” he said.