Rome - 06 January 2005 for SSpS and SVD Mission Secretaries and Mission Animators











Br. Abdon Simanullang SVD is a member of the Papua New Guinea province working in Mt. Hagen.  The recent tsunami killed 14 members of his family,  including his father’s brother and his wife and six of their children, and his mother’s brother and his five children.  An article published in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier on January 2 tells of his struggle with coming to terms with the loss.  In the course of the interview, Br. Abdon shared the following thoughts.

“If I was not religious and did not have a mission and divine calling to fulfill as a missionary in Papua New Guinea, then I am better off dying today because it is too hard for me to take this deep feeling of loss. I have never stopped crying since I got the news on the eve of Sunday December 26. Did God really do justice? Is God really there now to save? But having said all this, I know God’s peace has prevailed in these dark hours.”

“I have made my vow to serve PNG and its people who are also my brothers and sisters. What has happened in Indonesia is a testing time for me but I trust God will see me through this...I will continue to serve God and remain in PNG because I have a mission to fulfill but I will continue to pray for my country and people.”

“It was Christmas as usual. They were having the usual customary Christmas celebrations and spending a Christmas night together as a close family when disaster hit them and took their lives away. And I am left confused, lost and angry and am trying to come to terms with such a disaster. However, I have made my vows to serve God and therefore my principle is to accept the cross and the situation I am faced with. There has been a lot of comfort and prayers coming from brothers and sisters here in PNG which has greatly supported me.”

[The full article is available at ]


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Fr. Roderick Salazar SVD of the Philippines South Province is the president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). He is encouraging the organization to hold a National Day of Prayer, Mourning, and Hope for 7 January 2005. The Catholic Schools will join the whole country and the world in prayer for the victims of the tsunamis. The following paragraphs, contributed by Fr. Salazar, contain some of the reflections and sentiments in many hearts as the disaster is remembered.

January 7, 2005
CEAP National Day of Prayer, Mourning, and Hope

On the First Friday of the First Month of a Fresh Year, let us remember all those who lost their lives and property and loved ones in the disaster caused by the tsunamis in Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, Indonesia, India, Sri-Lanka and other places, as the year 2004 drew to a close. We remember likewise our brothers and sisters closer to home who suffered because of the series of typhoons that visited our country. On that day, let us pause to remember and pray – in Holy Masses, Bible Services, Holy Hours and other ways... Let us be one as a National Association of Catholic Schools. Let us pray. Let us mourn. But let us still believe. Let us still hope. It has been a terrible experience, these deaths. But as we say -- after the Bread and the Wine at Holy Mass are consecrated into Christ’s Body and Blood, and elevated and shown - responding to the invitation for us to proclaim the mystery of our faith:


We remember how You loved us through Your death
And still we celebrate for You are with us here
And we believe that we will see You
When You come in Your Glory, Lord
We remember, we celebrate, we believe.


I cite some words of Nathan Nettleton from a Sunday sermon on January 2:

' the churches went on singing that Sunday morning, singing songs about that lovely baby again, that wave was tearing babies out of people’s arms, sucking beds out through hotel windows with people still in them, dumping sharks into swimming pools, turning idyllic beachside villages into churning soups of angry water and broken glass and car parts and blood and corrugated iron and dying children and splintered wood. It was all over in minutes… What does God have to say? What word am I to interpret? There is a Word from God. And the Word became flesh. The Word became flesh and cast in his lot with us.

'Where was God when the wave hit? Wasn’t God right there bearing the brunt of it? Wasn’t God there clinging to his beloved child only to be overwhelmed by the wave and have the child ripped from his arms and torn away on that surging flood of hatred and battered and smashed and pierced and tossed limp and lifeless to the earth...? If you want to see what God has to say in the face of this, go walk among the ruins of Banda Aceh or just turn on your TV for God is speaking and the Word has become flesh...

'I pray that we and I might have the courage and compassion to recognize the Word that God speaks this week and follow where the Word calls into the places that terrify and horrify us, the places where we will know what it means to cry out for salvation, the places, perhaps the only places where we are capable of knowing the Word of resurrection, the Word made flesh, the Christ born of Mary...'

I thank Nathan Nettleton for his words, to which I would only add the element of Hope and New Life. For, as Nathan suggests, though we plumb the depths of death and grief, it is there and from there that we truly understand Resurrection. Thank you, Lord of Life and Resurrection, for the year that has just gone, with all its aches and tears and joys and hopes. Yes to the new year you are giving us, whatever it may bring.

And so, my dear brothers and sisters of CEAP, let us, on the First Friday of the First Month of this Fresh Year, January 7, 2005 mark as CEAP National Day of Prayer, Mourning, and Hope.

The Word who became flesh and lived among us, the Santo Nino whom we worship became the Man who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

[Contact Rod Salazar at: ]


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Fr. Aurelius Pate Soge SVD, Communications Coordinator for the SVD Java Province sent the following message to Fr. General on January 1. He stresses the opportunities for Christians and Muslims to work together as we live out our mission of prophetic dialogue.

"Happy New Year! Hopefully God will continue blessing us with courage and creativity for our missionary services.

"The Indian Ocean Tsunami has brought the nation into a deep grief. Yesterday official statement released a shocking figure of nearly 80,000 people died in Aceh and North Sumatra. This number will increase because many isolated villages and towns on west coast of Aceh are still inaccessible. Now we are worried that people who survive the tsunami will face another big threat of starvation and disease. Thanks be to God, the government has deployed national army, navy, air force and police to take necessary action to help. Food is being dropped from the air where land access is impossible. Many volunteers from Surabaya and elsewhere around the country are also making their way to Aceh.

"As tens of flights everyday from Banda Aceh to Medan bring survival, our mission stations in Nias and North Sumatra are bracing themselves to welcome the waves of refugees. They are used to experience that for political reasons, however, this time it is because of a natural disaster.

"I want to underline one interesting thing. As you might have known, there have been regular attacks on Christian churches everywhere in Indonesia during the last few years. This latest disaster brings some sense of unity. The nation is united in grief. The national union of Christian civil servants canceled their Christmas celebration, in which the president was scheduled to give a talk. Echoing this cancellation, many companies, hotels, offices etc - including the union of religious congregations in the Diocese of Surabaya also cancelled all planned Christmas parties. Students, even schoolboys and schoolgirls, are on streets to collect money for Aceh. Thanks be to God, I observe that many people generously donate their money for that purpose. We hope that this money will reach the victims of the tsunami. A friend of mine, a Moslem cleric who is also in charge of a Moslem seminary, clearly expressed his amazement. 'I cannot believe that you do all this for my brothers and sisters in Aceh,' he said.

"The Administrator of the Diocese of Surabaya, Rev. Fr. Julius Haryanto CM, officiated a requiem mass for the dead, on December 30, 2004. Last night (31/12/2004) during a fund raising event in a hotel, during the vigil of New Year, Fr. Lambert Paji Seran SVD, held a prayer service with two Moslem clerics for the same purpose. Here I wonder, why we need such a horrific disaster like this to unite us regardless of our ethnic, religious, cultural differences?

"Pray for us."

[Contact Aurelius Pati Soge at: ]


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Items for the SVD/SSpS Mission Animation Bulletin Board can be sent to:

Tom Ascheman SVD

Mary John K. SSpS

SVD Generalate Mission Secretary

SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary