JOHOR BAHRU – The Melaka- Johor diocese has donated funds to aid quake victims in Sichuan, China.

Some 200 people died and 13,484 were wounded, while thousands more left homeless when a powerful earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hit China’s Sichuan province in April this year.

The April quake occurred just five years after another earthquake rocked the Sichuan province, which caused the deaths of almost 70,000 people.

In the meantime, churches in the Diocese of Melaka-Johor are praying for those who have died and the thousands who are injured and homeless.

“We mourned with them then, and we wish to share a little with them now,” said Bishop Paul Tan.

“Natural disaster has become more frequent,” he said, “not only in Malaysia but also in other parts of this world.” Therefore, he added that this special call is to remind people of their obligation as Christians to help those in need.

The diocese, through its Relief Fund, donated RM101,500 (S$39,900) to the bishop of Yan’an diocese.

Fr Francis Kou, the Diocesan Financial Administrator of Melaka- Johor, was tasked by Bishop Tan to personally deliver the cheque to Bishop Lei Shi Yin of Yan’an diocese.

While in China, Fr Kou pre sented the cheque to Bishop Lei in the presence of a number of priests, religious and laity on June 18.

Fr Kou also took time to visit the damaged churches, chapels, homes, as well as a health centre managed by the Church to take care of the earthquake victims, the sick and the poor.

“It was heart wrenching to see children without parents, families torn apart [as] many lost their loved ones, people living on the streets without shelter and also many without a proper meal,” he said.

“In some places where the churches were completely damaged, priests may have to celebrate Mass or pray in the open space for the time being,” he added.

“When it comes to human suffering and charity, the Catholic faith does not distinguish between race, religion or status. As Christians we must respond whenever people in the world are suffering or in anguish for their lives and livelihood.”

He said that as soon as the tragedy struck, the Catholics in Melaka-Johor mobilised collections from its 40-odd parishes and communities throughout both states for this relief fund. Fr Kou noted that this small contribution is only a drop in the ocean of need, adding that “a token of care and concern is much appreciated by the people”.

Pope Francis has also called on Catholics and the international community worldwide to show solidarity for the earthquake victims.

By Vincent D’Silva