WelCom March 2019:
Our thoughts and prayers have been with the people in the Nelson-Tasman area affected by the raging forest fires, which started on 5 February 2019. Hundreds of anxious families and individuals were evacuated from their homes, notably from Pigeon, Eves, Teapot and Redwood Valleys and the township of Wakefield. Our Lady of the Bays parishioner Karen Moynagh shares insights about the experience and the power of prayer.
This experience heightens the awareness for all of us about care of planet earth as we see the impacts on the environment and peoples’ lives as a result of extremely dry conditions here.
Everyone has pulled together to support one another. Throughout the days of this volatile fire, prayer initiatives were in all the local churches of all denominations and people of faith have acknowledged the hand of God. For example, the forecasted windy conditions for around Sunday 10 and Monday 11 February, did not come and the firefighters were able to gain momentum to control the fire.
The ongoing firefighting response had seen a rapidly changed landscape and a skyline filled with towering flames day after day and night after night, abuzz with fire-response aircraft and thick with smoke. Large numbers of police, ambulance, forestry resources, fire crews, earth moving crews and army crews, moved in to set up base to respond to the emergency. Affected residents, the wider community and hundreds of volunteers from the local area and throughout New Zealand all pitched in to help along with the united prayer of the local faith communities.
We will be a troubled spot for weeks as the fire areas continue to monitored and then living in the reality of all that has been lost. There will be a be big commercial cost as well as personal cost. Work and incomes have been impacted. Fatigue in the community and firefighters is evident as long hours have been worked in so many ways and after the adrenaline drops and diminished urgency of tasks at hand is over, bodies will need to recover.
The high alert to the severe dry conditions, in place before this fire, continues. The landscape is parched, and in towns water conservation is urgent. We have had no sprinklers, no hosing. Lawns are without green and are crunchy to walk on, gardens are wilted, and the air is dry. Popular walking tracks are closed.
We will slowly adjust to a new normal. In the meantime, we invite your ongoing prayers for the many people who have been impacted in our communities and for planet earth in our part of the world.
Message of Solidarity
Monsignor Gerard Burns, Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Wellington, sent the following message of solidarity to the people affected by the fires in the Nelson-Tasman area.
14 February 2019
To members the parishes and schools of Our Lady of the Bays and Holy Family and the wider community.
On behalf of Cardinal John Dew, who is currently at meetings in Rome, I wish to express a message of solidarity and prayer at this time when your communities have experienced the challenge of the current fires and fire danger. We know that those who have lost homes or been displaced have been particularly affected but we have also heard of the great support and generosity of the local community, including the parishes at this time. We particularly note, too, the great work of those working to fight and contain the fires and to protect the community. Those who direct the services of the archdiocese are keeping a watching brief on any ways they can be of assistance at this time and into the future. In this situation we are once again reminded of the call to care for Papatuānuku, our common home, the earth and its people.
In our common faith,
Mons. Gerard Burns, Vicar-General, ADW