Chapels of Hope in Chile

Temporary chapels in parts of earthquake-devastated Chile are to be erected thanks to a grant sent out Thursday, March 18th, by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a leading Catholic charity for suffering Christians.

ACN is providing 15 makeshift chapels in dioceses most affected by the earthquakes, including Rancagua, Talca, Linares, Chillán, Concepción and Los Angeles, where 70-90 percent of the churches are now unusable.

The aid comes after the earthquake of February 27th and the tsunami that followed, which devastated a number of coastal towns and villages.

Church estimates now say nearly 500 died following the quake, which measured 8.8 on the Richter scale.

According to reports received by ACN, since last month up to 270 earthquakes have struck the region, half of which were at least 5.0 on the Richter scale. Some of them have been followed by tsunamis.

Outlining the $287,400 ACN tent chapel project, Ulrich Kny, the charity’s project coordinator for Latin America, underlined that the temporary structures were suitable for earthquake conditions.

Mr. Kny explained that the tent chapels could be taken down and erected in other areas after the reconstruction of churches damaged by the quake.

Explaining that each tent had a maximum capacity of 100 people, he said he was confident that the chapels would help revive Church life in Chile.

He added that the plan was being coordinated by Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Bishops’ Conference in Chile.

Mr. Kny explained that in most of the affected area, Mass is being held in the open air, but within a few weeks winter will come with very low temperatures and heavy rainfall.

Mr. Kny said, “The people are in constant fear of the aftershocks and the possibility of new earthquakes and tsunamis.

“The only thing that is giving them hope is their faith. It is very important that the chapels can go ahead so that people can express their faith and rebuild hope. Many of them have lost everything.”

He said that, depending on the outcome of an ACN appeal for Chile, the charity hoped to respond to more requests which have come in for temporary chapels in the region.

ACN has received messages of thanks from a number of bishops who praised the charity for its swift response and for its expression of solidarity and prayer.

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