Priest visits hurricane-damaged Dominica – Part 1*
November 6, 2017
Treat Trauma in Youth
November 9, 2017

‘Beautiful stories’ after the hurricane*

One of the Catholic churches that lost its roof during the hurricane. Photo: Fr Elton Letang CSsR

By Kaelanne Jordan,

While Dominicans associate Category 5 Hurricane Maria as “negative, vicious, vindictive and cruel”, some, on the other hand were able to identify God and Mary amidst the tragedy they experienced.

“I met a lady who is named Maria and she mentioned to me ‘Father, everybody vex with me’…But on the other side some people associate Maria with the mother of God…When they think of Maria, they think of Mary and how they were able to say that God was with them to spare them. And I think they realised that this was not the end,” Fr Elton Letang CSsR, moderator of the Barataria/El Socorro Cluster, said during an interview at the St Theresa’s RC Church office, October 23.

Fr Letang, who visited Dominica October 3–16, shared some “beautiful stories” from his trip, stories he said which remind of the beauty of life and the simple things we take for granted. He shared, “My best friend, he had just built his house and he was telling me the day while trees were falling in his area, people were still at the bar in Roseau having fun. And when the wind got really strong at around 7 p.m., a very close friend of his who was in the same community, and they would have had the same contractor, called and said ‘Boy, I lose my roof’…”

Fr Letang continued, “So he went home and told his wife ‘If he lose his roof, then we lose our roof’. And they were really concerned about that and they started to pray and they heard a bang and he said ‘The roof gone’. So the wife shines a flashlight and she looked up and said ‘No, the roof is there. Look at it’. And he came out and the roof was still there.”

Another story he relayed was a conversation he had with Deacon Alvin Knight who longed for a cold Coke drink. This interaction, he said, put into perspective how fortunate we are in T&T and the hope that this “longing” be transferred into our relationships with those we take for granted.

The Dominica-born priest revealed that he was “saddened” to learn that some friends were no longer there as they were killed during Maria. “It’s just a matter that they went to the shelter, and they were told to stay in the shelter. But our human side tends to take precedence over our divine self. They went home and that was the end of it,” he said.

Asked of his thoughts on Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Archbishop Joseph Harris’ call to welcome Dominicans to the archdiocese, Fr Letang said it was an excellent idea especially for students currently pursuing CXC. He reiterated that the need to continue assisting Dominica is high and it was important to help our brothers and sisters in need.

He commented, “Dominica is now; we don’t know who is next. Dominica had just given to Anguilla [and] St Maarten millions and a week after, Maria happened. Did the PM say ‘I need back my money?’ No! So I think now is the time for the Caribbean community to really work with each other.”

Fr Letang mentioned that his parish recently hosted a meeting to discuss the well-being of Dominicans currently pursuing tertiary studies in the archdiocese and ways in which persons can sponsor.

He also mentioned that the church community will be celebrating Dominica’s Independence on November 3 with a Mass on November 5 at 8.30 a.m. followed by a Creole Breakfast sale. Fr Letang assured that there will be further fundraising activities and he plans to return to Dominica after Christmas.