on the Situation
of the Salesian Family
This morning the Salesians' congregational news service in Rome published a little bit more information about the situation of the Salesian Family in Japan. They haven't published any pictures yet, unlike the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile last year--and I suppose that's a good sign amid the general horror in the northern parts of the country.
(ANS – Tokyo) – The strong earthquake and subsequent tsunami which struck the Japanese archipelago on March 11 were the most devastating events to hit the country since the end of World War II. The Salesian communities, which escaped almost unscathed, are now calmly waiting to be told how they can help the suffering people.
The earthquake, the tsunami, and now fear regarding the nuclear power stations, have left the country in a state of shock. Estimates concerning the number of those who died in the stricken areas speak of over 10,000. In spite of everything, vital services are being restored and the people are trying to return to their normal activities.
A report from the Salesian provincial house in Tokyo has confirmed that Salesian centers have not been seriously damaged because they are not located north of Tokyo, except for a summer residence at Nojiri, about which there has been no news as yet.
In Tokyo the cross fell from the bell tower of the church in Meguro. At Adachi a boundary wall collapsed and the statues of the Guardian Angels disintegrated. At Kawasaki a statue of the Sacred Heart fell down and an old part of the kindergarten was damaged. In almost all the houses furniture and shelves suffered; the greatest damage in terms of collapsed bookshelves and other things was at the bookstore and religious articles store at Don Bosco Sha. Considering the force of the earthquake, which in the area of Tokyo was about 5 on the scale, this is very little indeed.
The Salesian schools have re-opened, but since for safety reasons some of the electrical power stations have been closed, electricity and water are rationed, and this makes things difficult. Transport too is still affected since some key intersections for trains and the subway are out of action.
Nor have the Salesian Sisters suffered any casualties. “The situation of our pupils and their families is not causing any worries, but we are thinking of the many children and elderly in the emergency centers, in a gymnasium or a hall all together: men, women, old and young, the elderly, etc., in need of everything,” Sr. Marisa Gambato, FMA provincial secretary in Japan, reports.
The Sisters of Charity of Jesus, likewise, are all well. Of their 46 houses in Japan, that of Shirakawa, in the province of Fukushima – in the diocese of Sendai – is the one closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. The sisters are safe, but some of the children from the nursery school are missing. In Tokyo, one of the sisters had an alarming experience. She was in the hospital for an operation when the earthquake happened: the doctors had to interrupt the serious operation but then managed to complete it successfully later.
For the Sisters of Charity of Jesus in the capital, the material damage was limited: some pipes burst, some shelves and cupboards fell, some windows were broken. To ensure the safety of the babies and the children in the orphanage, they were put in the kindergarten, which is their best earthquake-proof building.
For various forms of solidarity and help, the SDBs, FMAs, and Sisters of Charity are waiting so as to be able to join together with the Japanese bishops and with Caritas Japan. For the present the authorities are asking everyone to remain calm and not put themselves in danger.
On March 15 Fr. Aldo Cipriani, the provincial, will return to Japan after being in Thailand for a meeting of all the provincials and provincial councilors of the East Asia-Oceania Region with the Rector Major and some members of the general council.