Burma: priests, nuns among cyclone victims

 At least two Catholic priests and several sisters are among the many thousands of Burmese killed by Cyclone Nargis, Don Bosco India reports. Many churches and related projects have also been badly damaged. Salesian provincial for Myanmar, Fr Joaquim Ye Maung, said the cyclone "destroyed not only the roof of Salesian Provincial House in Yangon, but also smashed and washed away much of our income generating Salesian properties." Fr Ye Maung said Salesian workers "escaped the fury of Nargis with only what they had on their bare bodies. They literally ran for their dear lives leaving everything behind." Burmese priests, sisters and seminarians studying in Rome are becoming increasingly anxious about the safety of their parents and relatives. Information about their welfare is not forthcoming as the communication means are not yet in place in those badly affected areas, the agency said. Rangoon Archbishop Charles Bo SDB said: "the Church is arranging to buy and distribute relief supplies using archdiocesan funds. As much as we can, we will try to help all the people." "Our immediate needs are food, water and shelter, and thousands are in need of urgent medical help," Archbishop Bo said. One of the two worst hit areas is territory covered by his archdiocese. The other, the Irrawaddy River delta region, where the cyclone wiped out villages and destroyed rice fields, is covered by Pathein diocese. "The roofs of the churches were blown off by the cyclone and the regional major seminary is also affected, said Archbishop Bo. He said that the beginning of the new seminary year has been postponed from May to July. The Archdiocese of Yangon has formed an emergency response committee, Myanmar Disaster Relief Committee (MDRC), which includes representatives of the affected population, and parish and donor partners. Assessment teams have been sent to the three affected dioceses of Yangon, Mawlamyine and Pathein dioceses. Source: Don Bosco India

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