Catholics return to Mass after Indonesian earthquake

Inside the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, Palu, after the earthquake (ucanews/Fr Johanis Salaki)

Hundreds of traumatised Catholics on Indonesia’s earthquake-stricken Sulawesi island have attended Masses outside the largest church in the city’s capital. Source:

Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the 7.4 maginitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Palu and neighbouring districts on September 28 killed 1,763 people and damaged nearly 70,000 buildings. 

About 2,600 people were seriously injured and more than 62,300 others had to flee their homes. The agency said some 5,000 people were believed to be missing.

“The quake shook buildings, including our parish church,” Sacred Heart Father Johanis Salaki from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Palu told yesterday.

He said the faithful, who were psychologically shaken, would run into open areas every time an aftershock occurred.

About 546 aftershocks had been recorded, Fr Salaki said.

After consulting with Bishop Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu of Manado, Fr Salaki had been holding Sunday and daily Masses to comfort parishioners at a gazebo located in the parish church’s compound.

“During this month of the Holy Rosary, we also pray Rosary for all people affected by the quake,” Fr Salaki said. “They have both physical and spiritual needs, so there is a balance.”

Fr Salaki said the church has some tilted pillars and cracked walls, as well as damage to a marble ceiling, and that ornaments above the altar had fallen.

The diocese has 62 parishes in eight deaneries.

Fr Salaki said he would ask the local government for help to evaluate of the condition of the church before starting renovations.


Quake-traumatized Catholics seek solace at Mass (


Indonesia tsunami: Palu a land of camps and makeshift clinics as earthquake recovery efforts continue (ABC News

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