Survivors of Cyclone Nargis receive food from a local donor in a Myanmar village.- CNS file photo
PEIN-NE-GONE, MYANMAR – Catholics from some of the villages worst hit by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, now have something to celebrate with the establishment of a new parish in the Irrawaddy Delta.
Fr Denis Min Zaw, the priest of Sacred Heart Church in the new Pein-ne-gone parish in Pathein diocese, said villagers will have the opportunity to attend daily Mass, while people from surrounding villages will find getting to church celebrations much easier.
The remoteness of the villages made travel difficult and lack of pastoral care was made worse when Nargis destroyed the old Sacred Heart Church, he said.
During the post-Nargis period many Catholics in the area were struggling with their faith and some quit the religion because of the hardship they were enduring and a lack of contact with priests, he added.
Fr Raymond Htun Kyi, dean of the Church’s Maungmya zone, along with five priests, presided at the May 1 opening ceremony creating the new parish.
About 500 participants attended the ceremony.
“It is a great joy for me as I never expected to take part in daily Masses,” said Mr Peter U Tin Shwe 48, the Pein-ne-gone village head.
The previous parish was too far away, and he did not go there after Nargis. “I hope our villagers will deepen their faith since our village has become the centre of a new parish,” he added.
Mr Joseph Thar Htoo 39, a villager from nearby Ta-yoke-gone said the new parish is so close it will take just 15 minutes by boat to attend Mass.
Since the old parish was too far away, villagers seldom ever went there and only used to go to confession and receive Holy Communion when a priest came to the village.
As there was no catechist in the village, villagers used to conduct funerals, he said.