“On that fateful day of September 18th, no one could ever believe that so few lives were lost. This confirms that the hand of God was at work among us, his people.” That sentiment was expressed by the Bishop of Roseau His Lordship, Gabriel Malzaire when he addressed the ‘Remembering Maria Reflection Ceremony’ held earlier today.
Today marks three (3) years since category 5 Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica with over 30 reported deaths, more than 4,500 houses destroyed and 20,000 partially damaged.
“Today we commemorate the event of September 18th, 2017 which most Dominicans would rather not remember. However, the indelible impression which it has created is enough to cause us to stop for a moment to give thanks, to praise, to reflect and to offer condolence,” the Bishop said.
He described the occasion as a moment of thanksgiving for the many lives that were spared from “that monstrous disaster.”
“Today is a day of reflection, reflection on what happened 3 years ago and the lessons it has engendered in each one of us,” Bishop Malzaire declared.
According to him, while Hurricanes are normal in the scheme of natural events, the intensity in which they occur in this present era is indicative of a certain imbalance in the atmosphere which is brought about to a significant extent, by human irresponsibility resulting in the phenomenon known as global warming.
He said the examples of Hurricane Maria, Tropical Storm Erika and even COVID-19 are indications to everyone that it is not business as usual, “and that to a significant extent the future of our planet is in our hands.”
The head of the Catholic Church in Dominica thanked Caribbean neighbours and the international community that promptly came to Dominica’s aid by providing assistance “of all kinds and at all levels.” He also thanked the local community for what he said was a sense of neighborliness which was experienced in the communities where everyone shared the little they had especially in the earlier post-Maria days.
“Our hope is that this would have had an indelible effect on the way we see ourselves as a community,” he said.
Bishop Malzaire also thanked the various local organizations such as the arms of government and the opposition, churches, law enforcement agencies, the private sector for “the manner in which all collaborated in bringing the country back to normalcy in an unprecedented space of time.”
The Bishop made reference to the Catholic community’s celebration of the Feast of St Francis from September 1st to October 4th when the Pope has called on the world to observe this period as the season of creation all around the world to pray and care for God’s creation.
Bishop Malzaire said it’s also a time to reflect on each and everyone’s relationship with the environment, not just the distant nature, “but crucially, the place where we live, the way in which our lifestyle and decisions as a society can endanger both the natural world and those who inhabit it, both humans and other creatures.”
He said any effort we make, individual or collective, will go some distance in preventing or mitigating the Maria’s and the Erika’s.