I write to share some tragic news with you. You may know that Cyclone Harold has wrought havoc in Melanesia. Vanuatu has suffered in particular. Br Jean-Marie Batick, the current District Leader, who is himself a native of Vanuatu, wrote this morning:
"The cyclone now moved away from Vanuatu leaving great damage particularly on the islands of Santo where the Brothers are, the islands of Pentecost, where Br Bonaventure is from, and Ambrym Island where I am from. This morning, Tuesday 7, I tried to call the two Brothers in Santo and my family at home and could not get through. All the communication systems are cut off, so I don't know what type of situation they are in at the moment".
Naturally, there is widespread anxiety and distress.
As a result of the cyclonic weather conditions, a tragedy occurred over the weekend which has directly involved other members of our Marist family. The Deputy Principal of St Joseph's Tenaru, Abraham Haiuasi, his wife, three sons, his brother and his brother's wife were travelling to Malaita on board the MV Taimareho, when it was hit by a storm surge. In the panic and fear, 28 people were swept overboard; few have been found alive. Among the victims are Abraham's wife, three sons and his brother, Godfrey Waronitepe, who is also a teacher at St Joseph's.
In the face of these tragedies I ask you to stand in silent, prayerful solidarity with the people of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Abraham and the extended Haiuasi family.
I have asked Br Jean-Marie to extend our support and assurance of prayers to Abraham and the Tenaru school community.
Br Peter Carroll
Leader, Marist Association of Saint Marcellin Champagnat