Bishop Michael Smith visits Tsunami projects in South East Asia supported by the Diocese of Meath

17 Nov 2006






Bishop Michael Smith will visit areas of South East Asia from 19th – 28th November
to review projects sponsored by the Diocese of Meath after the devastating Tsunami
of 26 December 2004.  Bishop Smith has been invited by Cardinal Michael Kitbunchu,
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Thailand.

As soon as the extent of the devastation became known, the Diocese of Meath coordinated
an appeal involving all 69 parishes, numerous schools and various fundraising events,
all of which raised over € 1.1 million.  At the time Bishop Smith promised that the
donations would be sent to the affected areas through the channels of Church personnel
working directly on the ground.

“Local contacts were established with Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Somalia
to make sure that the money got to where it was most needed” Bishop Smith explains.  
“As well as responding to the immediate humanitarian crisis and the need for shelter,
food and medicines, we were also eager to help address some of the longer term problems
caused by the Tsunami.  In Sri Lanka we invested in supporting primary schools and
learning materials, conscious of the long term value of education in helping people
to rebuild their future.  In South East India we are still working with a number of
fishing communities, buying boats and other supplies to get people back to making a
living for their families as all they had was wiped out in an instant.”

“Next week, Cardinal Kitbunchu of Thailand and myself will bless and officially open
a number of projects in the south of that country which were built and paid for by
the people of this diocese.  Here the emphasis is on adult training and development,
with the Saint Agnes Professional Training Centre helping the jobless to acquire new
skills and new opportunities.  Many people, especially women, were jobless after the
Tsunami which devastated the tourist industry.  Built on seven acres, the Saint Agnes
Centre trains people from across a wide area and accommodates them in two other
hostels, Saint Joseph’s and Saint Mary’s, to give people every chance of availing of
the resources.  I will also open the Saint Michael’s Centre, a multi-purpose building
for the victims, which includes a medical treatment clinic and a museum of the Tsunami.”

The Bishop’s visit is organized by Archbishop Pennacchio, the Papal Nuncio in Thailand,
to whom much of the proceeds of the Diocesan Appeal were first sent.  Archbishop
Pennacchio had previous spent three years in Ireland and frequently  visited a number
of parishes in Meath and Westmeath.

Archbishop Pennacchio is very grateful to Bishop Smith for taking the time to review
the progress that has been made. He also says “We are most appreciative of the generous
support given by the people from Meath Diocese.  The Bishop’s visit gives us an
opportunity to show him the good work that has been done and to thank him, the parishes
and schools for being there when we needed it and for staying with us.  In Thailand, we
saw two things. One was the Tidal Wave (Tsunami) but the other was the ‘Wave of Love’,
the enormous solidarity and support we received.  This has helped to heal wounds in
very practical ways.”  

17 November 2006