.- Aid to the Church in Need has announced that it will help the Catholics of the island of Gaomai in the Solomon Islands rebuild a seaside church damaged in a July 2007 tsunami.
The tsunami and two earthquakes left more than 50 dead and around 9,000 homeless in the Solomons, a chain of islands near Papua New Guinea. The church building, just 16 feet from the shore, partially collapsed and now floods at high tide, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) says. Despite the damage, people are still gathering at the church for prayer.
Bishop of Gizo Luciano Capelli expressed gratitude to ACN and its supporters for their assistance. He reported that the church easily floods because the seas are rising and because the island slightly sank during the earthquakes.
“The people of the Gizo diocese are slowly recovering from the trauma that shook and changed their lives radically,” Bishop Capelli said.
“They have struggled to survive for two years. They are now focusing on rebuilding their homes and schools.
“The churches are badly damaged but usable – I myself encouraged them to give priority to their homes and the school – and we think the Lord is happy about this decision.”
The new church will be built further inland, a decision the bishop called “painful.”
Through ACN’s offices in Ireland and the UK, the charity gave more than $65,000 for rebuilding work in Gaomai, where the average annual income is about $430 per year.
The island of Moli has also received help from the charity to repair its wharf and its church.