Society Matters | Volume 30 No. 1 | Autumn 2020

Volume 30 No. 1 | Autumn 2020 8 Society Matters A Newsletter of the Divine Word Missionaries Inc - Australia Province Donations to the SVDAUS Province Overseas Aid Fund can be made online at or by mailing to Divine Word Missionary Appeal Office, Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW, 1710, Australia. @svdaus ‘Rebuild my Church’ – Residents of Tanna Island celebrate post-cyclone reconstruction Four years after Cyclone Pam flattened Tanna Island in Vanuatu, the community has celebrated the re-opening and blessing of the church which was rebuilt thanks to the many generous benefactors who donated to the SVD AUS Province special appeal. Tanna Island was one of the hardest hit areas in the March 2015 cyclone, leaving about 90 per cent of people without houses. All the trees were bent and stripped of leaves and the local church had its roof blown off. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster people were living without electricity, safe water or reasonable shelters. The SVD AUS Province launched an appeal to help the community get back on its feet and received a generous response from our partners in mission, raising about $50,000. Mission Secretary Fr Truc Quoc Phan SVD travelled to Vanuatu on a few occasions to take a first- hand look at what was most urgently needed. Fr Olivier Noclam SVD, currently assigned to Alice Springs, is from Tanna Island, and also helped identify the greatest need. The SVD Appeal provided funds for immediate relief for the people, but also for the rebuilding of the church. Fr Henry Adler SVD, who was Provincial at the time, says he was invited to Tanna Island in November last year for the official re-opening and blessing of the church. “The funds raised through our Appeal were made available to the people there by the bishop and the parish priest,” Fr Henry says. “It helped them to rebuild the church and meet the needs of some of the most needy people on Tanna. “The work on the church is now finally completed and it is open again to serve the community.” Fr Henry says the church blessing and re-opening was attended by the Bishop of Port Vila, John Bosco Baremes SM, as well as clergy from the island and religious, Fr Olivier, who was on home leave, and the whole population. “It was a great celebration,” Fr Henry says. “It wasn’t just the Catholic community, but representatives from most of the faith groups on the island came to join the Catholics in the blessing of the new church. “The people were so appreciative of the funds raised to help them. Tanna Island is one of the outer islands of Vanuatu and is somewhat lacking in development in areas like reliable electricity and roads. “So this financial assistance from our benefactors was a real sign of love and solidarity for the local people.” Fr Henry says the re-opening and blessing of the church took place on the feast of St Martin de Porres, who is patron of the parish.