When the world shakes

Author: Michael O. Garvey


The 9-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 26 triggered tidal waves in theIndian Oceanwhich killed at least 156,000 people and left more than 5 million homeless.The horror seemed unprecedented, given the suddenness and scope of the catastrophe, the coincidence of a massive loss of human life with a joyful season, and the volume of tragic information which suffused the global communication networks.

An aftershock of apprehension rippled through the Notre Dame family in the wake of those grim reports fromSouth Asia.From a campus emptied by the Christmas break,Ireneo Bong Miquiabas, director of international student services and activities (ISSA) and Connie Peterson-Miller, assistant director of ISSA, immediately began to contact Notre Dame students inIndia,Thailand,Indonesia,Malaysia,Sri Lanka,BangladeshandSomalia.

Replies came quickly during the first few days following the disaster, and then Peterson-Miller, who maintains ISSAs listserv, sent an e-mail message to all 105 students from the tsunami-affected countries.

We send our thoughts and prayers to each of you who will soon be traveling back to Notre Dame,she wrote.We were grateful to receive from many of you messages telling us that you and your families were safe in the wake of the horrifying earthquake and resulting tsunami across theIndian Ocean.If you have not written us, PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW YOU ARE.We are anxious to know that all of our international family members are safe.At this moment, we are unaware of any tsunami-related life casualties among Notre Dame’s international student community. Host families, community members, and the staff of many departments and institutes have expressed their concern and readiness to assist those in need.

All 105 students are now safely accounted for, but the expressions of concern and readiness to assist reflect an observation made by Notre Dame president Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C. when he heard news of the disaster.

The catastrophe of the Asian tsunami can only be seen as a summons by the Lord to special acts of prayer and compassionate cooperation that are both immediate and constant, both local and global,Father Malloy said.The summons is actually always there, in good times and bad, but sometimes it takes the shaking of the world to draw our attention to the timeless call.It is again the question that God always asks: Whom shall I send? It is again God’s answer to the questions we always ask: Who is my neighbor? Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? Every time we hear these questions and respond with love, God works through us and God works on us.

A Mass for tsunami victims and for those bringing aid to the region will be celebrated at 5:15 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 13) in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and collections for the relief effort will be taken Sunday (Jan.16) at all Masses, both in the Basilica and in residence hall chapels.With the help of Notre Dames Center for Social Concerns, international student groups on campus such as the Asian International Society and the Notre Dame chapter of the Association forIndias Development have begun to organize fundraising efforts for disaster relief.

“We have been deeply moved by the great concern expressed by everyone in our Notre Dame family,Miquiabas said.We have also been inspired by the generous spirit of our international students who acted immediately to plan and coordinate campus fund-raising efforts for the victims.

Last week Father Malloy offered the following prayer for the tsunami victims and posted it on his Web site at http://president.nd.edu :

p. Lord, so many of our brothers and sisters are in desperate need, so many of themhave perished already. Stir us to action in the fullest measure and on the wisest course in accordance with your will, which is a will to turn evil into good, and in accordance with your power, which is a power to bring healing, hope, and resurrection. We see you at work already in this tragedy, awakening charity in individuals and nations, sparking a spirit of unity among political partisans and religions separated by suspicion. We bless you and thank you for this power of love that you bring even to our worst situations and coldest hearts. Help us to receive and embrace this power here at Our Lady’s University so that we can be worthy vessels of your grace, helping to disperse darkness for the victims of this tragedy and for our whole world.

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