EQUADOR – convent destroyed and six nuns killed in earthquake
A nun and five novices of the Servants of the Home of the Mother were among the 413 people killed by the recent earthquake in Ecuador. The congregation has three houses in Ecuador, one in Guayaquil, one in Chone and third in Playa Prieta, which was destroyed by the earthquake.
Sister Beatriz describes what happened. Sister Estela, when she felt the earthquake, ran to the chapel to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament. As soon as she got there the chapel collapsed and she fell to the floor below. “She had planned to recover the Lord before saving her own life and the Lord saved her” said Sister Beatriz. Sister Estela survived and was taken to a medical centre.
First came the news that Sister Therese had been found alive with a broken ankle and several bruises. The superior of the community was rescued by aid workers from the rubble with a broken foot. Then they located the body of novice Jazmina and a few hours later Sister Clare and four novices- Mayra, María Augusta, Valeria and Catalina.The other nuns were alive with minor injuries.
“As Sisters who truly love the Lord, we mourn the loss of our Sisters, but faith assures us that” death is not the end ” said Sister Beatriz.
‘Sagrada Familia’, a religious school run by the Sisters in Playa provides education and religious training for over 400 local youths. Fortunately, being the school holiday the building was empty. The Sisters also do important humanitarian work, particularly after recent heavy floods that had devastated the area. Severe flooding may have damaged the structure of the building.
The nuns’ home was on the second floor of one of the school buildings. At the time of the earthquake, four nuns and seven young postulants of Ecuadorian origin were inside the building. Five women were rescued alive after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that caused the premises to collapse: three sisters from the community and two novices. They were evacuated to Guayaquil with various injuries.
The Servant Sisters said that their founder, the Spanish priest Father Rafael Alonso Reymundo, will be traveling to Ecuador with other members of the community to preside at the funeral services.
During his address to the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis offered a special greeting to all those affected by Saturday’s deadly earthquake in Ecuador. Speaking to Spanish-language pilgrims, the Pope offered assured their “brothers in Ecuador” of “our closeness and our prayer in this moment of suffering.”