Pastoral letter from the Bishop of the Windward Islands following the eruption of La Soufriere

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In the midst of Easter Week Friday, 9th April, 2021 we have the explosive eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. On Thursday afternoon Prime Minister Gonsalves issued an evacuation order for those in the red zone to move to shelters. This is surely a trying time for us all in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because at the same time we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the realities related to both, along with all the other challenges of our lives.

The present experience may cause us to wrestle with our faith, but it does not define who we are, our moments of wrestling must be seen as stepping stones to deeper faith, growth and maturity. They enable us to be more aware and sensitive to that which brings us all to life; that which is essential to our human existence. They provide opportunities for us to turn away from that which deadens our hearts and minds, so that we may be messengers of hope. It was those who experienced the empty tomb on that first Easter morning, the very ones who wrestled with their faith, who proclaim that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive. The God who raised Jesus from the dead will journey with us through these trying times.

As we respond to the present situation in our nation mistakes will be made, everything may not be as we would like, our needs may not be met as quickly as we would like for we are experiencing a disaster, an emergency which is quite demanding. May we be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and exercise a good sense of judgement, understanding, forgiveness, restraint, tolerance, patience, and self-control.

Archbishop Howard Gregory and other bishops, priests and people from the Church in the Province of the West Indies, Archdeacons Christian Glasgow and Michael Marshall and other clergy and people in Grenada and St. Lucia, Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson from our Companion diocese of Calgary, Canada and other bishops, priests and people from USA and elsewhere have been in touch with me and other clergy in the diocese and they have asked to extend their greetings and to you and to assure you of their support and prayers at this time.

Let us pray:

O Heavenly Father as the La Soufriere Volcano erupts we are frightened by our knowledge of the possible devastation of volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters and by our helplessness in the face of them. We pray O Father that you may keep us safe and all who stand in harm’s way.

Loving Father help us to know and to be confident that if disaster comes our way that you are ever present with us, and teach us to cope and afterwards to respond pray that help may be given to them speedily and this may be turned into an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of love and service which bind men and nations together through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With every good wish and God’s blessings

Yours sincerely

The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands