A recent newsletter from the Dominican family in Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, and Papua, New Guinea, featured messages from Dominican sisters and friars in Japan. Sister Elizabeth Hellwig, OP, who compiled this information, granted permission to reprint it in Dominican Life | USA.
Our Dominican Family in Japan
March 15, 2011
From: Marie Thomas Notohara, OP, President of the Association of Dominican Monasteries in Japan
To: Brian Pierce, OP, Promoter General for the Nuns of the Order
Dear Father Brian,
Thank you very much for your prayers and heartfelt sympathy.
At last we could get through to our sisters in Morioka a while ago. The lifelines of electricity and water were restored there. Thanks to God, our sisters in Morioka are all safe in a very difficult situation. The buildings of their monastery collapsed here and there. It was not so much damage, but there is no telling when the repair will be done. The aftershock is still continuing there (also in Seto).
We cannot get through to our sisters in Bandai. The whole northeast district of Japan was terribly damaged. Our brothers in Tokyo are all safe, but we have not heard about our brothers in the northeast district. According to the news, the number of the dead will surpass 10,000. We do beg for the mercy of God.
Sr. Marie Thomas Notohara, OP
Dominican Sisters of Apostolic Life
Sister Cecille Espenilla, OP, DSI coordinator for Asia Pacific, sends news about our sisters in Japan:
The Asia-Pacific region is again at the center of unimaginable catastrophe… Japan is terribly devastated. We have three Dominican congregations in Japan. All of them have informed me that they are safe, and no one was hurt nor any property destroyed. Sister Rita Burdzy, OP, Maryknoll, told me that while she was e-mailing me, the convent was shaking from a strong aftershock. Sister Charina, of the Missionary Sisters of St. Dominic… is saying that their neighboring prefectures have already been evacuated, and they might come next. Sister Ikeda of St. Dominic of Roman Congregation said that they are all well. They are requesting our prayers.
Thank you for your concern. I am fine as well as the Christian community, as far as I can know: the communication is still difficult. We are without electricity and water, and food is already limited. The biggest fear: the nuclear usine nearby is at risk to contaminate the local population: 200,000 have to be evacuated. Thank you for your prayer and your fraternal attention.
Raymond Latour, OP
Our Solomonese Dominican Family heeded the tsunami warnings, and joined the rest of their villagers in the hills. There was some high water at Loga, Nila and Wagina, but no damaging waves, thank God.
Father Henry Paroi was able to say that “no problem has been reported. But this says something wonderful about mobile phones, otherwise we would have never found out what was going on until it was perhaps the next day.”
Words are inadequate to express our compassion for the people of Japan. We can only pray that all, especially our Dominican brothers and sisters, will have the courage to go on, knowing that they are being prayed for and supported by their family throughout the world.
Sister Elizabeth Hellwig, OP