141Nly diocese in ruins'
;MAURITIUS BISHOP TELLS OF ; CYCLONE 1 HORROR
"BY 2 a.m. the wind was up to over 100 miles an hour, houses were falling like ninepins. Destruction piled on destruction, houses, churches, schools, convents, buildings were torn apart, roofs ripped off, sheets of iron, wooden doors, shutters, carried like leaves on the wind This was the horrifying. bewildering description given me by Bishop Liston, C.S.Sp., of Mauritius, the island in the Indian Ocean which was stricken by Cyclone Carol just I I weeks ago tomorrow, Many missionaries from this country work among the 179,000 Catholics of Mauritius and the surrounding islands.
Bishop Liston, who had called in at the CATHOLIC HERALD office on his way to Ireland spoke vividly of his experiences.
It was a double inferno. said the Bishop " During a terrifying night. the electricity had been cut off as a precaution—the unfortunate people had to gather a few belongings, and often with babies in their arms had to face the fury of the storm to seek shelter elsewhere.
"Their houses were in ruins or in danger of collapsing. Many had to change shelter more than once as the refugee centre to which they fled was stripped of its roof or destroyed.
" With the morning came four hours' calm," the Bishop told me " .. hours which saved innumerable lives as people shored up their threatened houses or escaped to solid shelter.
"Then the inferno started all over again with the wind blowing as fiercely as before but from the opposite direction. Destruction continued, and, when 'Carol' moved away, Mauritius was. a 'martyred island' and my diocese of Port Louis a shambles,"
What are the cold, stark figures which face people, Government and Church?
40,000 houses destroyed.
40,000 houses badly damaged.
110.000 people homeless (these arc Government figures) and the sugar crop, according to the Secretary of State, Mr. McLeod, who has just returned from Mauritius, reduced to 40 per cent. of normal.
Bishop Liston, who has been to Rome, London and Ireland on his way to the U.S.A. appealing for help and funds to restore his shattered diocese. the oldest in the India Ocean, estimated that at least £300,000 will be needed, The bills he has to face? They are frightening: 26 churches have been wiped out or so badly dam
aged as to need rebuilding. Twenty-five other churches have suffered heavily. Thirty schools, eleven presbyteries. twelve convents and innumerable smaller buildings were stripped of their roof or rendered uninhabitable.
"At the height of the storm in eight convents the Reverend Mothers had to take the Blessed Sacrament to a place of safety before the chapels collapsed . . . in some churches the priests had to search amid the debris next day for the ruined tabernacle," Bishop Liston told me.
His own house lost its roof: the interior was ruined by torrential rains.
Mauritius. 1.500 miles cast of Africa, a happy land of rolling plains and abrupt mountain ranges, has a subtropical climate. But the climate was not kind even after "Carol" had passed. leorrential rain fell for two weeks so that the bared interiors of houses, churches, convents, schools. were steadily ruined by wind, rain and sun.
Mass is celebrated where possible. Often the congregation standing in thick mud or inches of water, a canopy or a piece of broken roof protecting the altar.
More than £250,000 will be needed to repair the churches alone.
Meanwhile, Bishop Liston is travelling the world. He has been promised some help by the Cardinal and the Hierarchy of England and Wales. His pockets are
large . . and so are the bills.
His address? Letters sent to The Rt. Rev. Bishop Liston. C.S.Sp., Holy Ghost Fathers, 6 Woodlands Road, Bickley, Kent, will he forwarded. M.C.