Facing devastation from the unexpected eruption of the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile, Archbishop Cristian Caro of Puerto Montt, one of the areas at risk, reminded the faithful not to lose hope.

“Let us place our trust in God who does not abandon his children,” the prelate said.

At 5:50 a.m. on April 22, the Calbuco volcano, located in the Los Lagos Region, erupted after lying dormant for 43 years. The authorities declared a red alert in a 12-mile zone from the volcano since the ongoing eruption entails “great danger for the population.” At 1 a.m. the following day, a second eruption began, rising nine miles into the sky.

In a message sent to the local radio stations in the affected areas, Archbishop Caro quoted from the Psalms: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

The archbishop stated that “sometimes life hits us with situations like these – suffering, darkness, uncertainty…and at that moment we have to renew our trust in God, even though we walk through dark valleys we should fear nothing because the Lord goes with us.”

He said that he visited one of the shelters housing people who had to abandon their homes because of the volcanic eruption, in order to bring a word of faith, calm and closeness.

Asking for help for the people in the shelters – especially clothing for the children, young adults and elderly – the archbishop gave his blessing to “all who have gone through or who are going through this time  of suffering, and for their families, and may the Lord and the Virgin Mary accompany you.”

Among those who were forced to abandon their homes because of the eruption were 12 sisters of perpetual adoration, who had to leave their monastery, located in the high risk area. At the request of the archbishop, they were relocated to a Carmelite monastery in order keep their community together.

“At this time we can’t answer the phone. The community is now at the Carmelite Monastery, we are all doing well, we are very united in the Lord and we have abandoned ourselves into the hands of God. Thank you, may God bless you,” was the message on the answering machine at the Monastery of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, located 12 miles from the Calbuco volcano.

One concern going forward is the effect that the volcanic ash will have on the crops, livestock and water supply in the region. By April 24, the ash had spread as far as Buenos Aires, Argentina, causing flights to and from the United States and Europe to be canceled.

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Office of the Department of the Interior and Public Safety reported that there are 12 locations set up for those who had to leave their homes after the eruption. The authorities recently ordered a new evacuation in the eruption zone because of volcanic mudflows of sediment and water close to the volcano.