Priests in the Diocese of Rockhampton have already begun celebrating Christmas Masses, providing hope for communities devastated by prolonged drought and catastrophic bushfires. Source: ACBC Media Blog.
Fr Matthias Ogwo, Fr Raj Kodavatikanti HGN and Fr Ronaldo Rodriguez will collectively clock up several thousand kilometres driving between isolated mining towns and farming communities this Christmas season.
Rockhampton Bishop Michael McCarthy, who is visiting the Holy Land, has spoken about how in his four and a half years as bishop, the diocese had experienced cyclones, floods, a long and severe drought, an earthquake, a locust plague and, last month, catastrophic fires.
He said it was after Cyclone Debbie that he first became aware of the real suffering of people who had lost homes, property, livestock and crops. The story repeated itself in the catastrophic fires with sugarcane fields burnt out and properties razed.
In the central west of the diocese, parishioners are still praying for more rain after a blessing of 30mm last week, according to Longreach relief priest Fr Ogwo.
He said his location involved much driving among the cluster parish churches, sometimes up to 200km between towns.
“But I find joy in doing that when I know that I am going to celebrate Mass. I am going to meet people out there to talk about Jesus and bring relief and reassurance,” he said.
“It’s very good to bring the joy of the Gospel to the people of Alpha, Aramac, Barcaldine, Blackall, Ilfracombe, Isisford, Jericho, Jundah, Longreach, Tambo and Morella.
“Given the drought and the hard times, really they need a person to talk to, they need those words of Jesus to reassure them that there is light at the end of the tunnel and reassurance that God is still with them and that they are not forgotten.”
Priests joyfully deliver Christmas message of hope (ACBC Media Blog)