Fr Joel Thompson SJ celebrated Holy Mass Friday, June 2, at St Therese Church, Karasabai, Region 9, for the girls and Ursuline Sisters of St Angela’s Girls’ whose hostel was destroyed by fire in the wee hours of Thursday, June 1. All the girls and Ursuline Sisters escaped unharmed.
According to a Catholic Standard report, four male students of Karasabai Secondary School were in police custody, having confessed to planning and executing the arson.
The fire at St Angela’s Hostel comes on the heels of the deadly arson at the Mahdia Secondary School Girls’ Dormitory which took 20 lives.
St Angela’s Hostel was opened August 24, 2022, and is an apostolic service of the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk. It was constructed by the Catholic Church and the Karasabai community via self-help to accommodate girls from five communities in the South Pakaraimas. Pastoral work is done in collaboration with the Jesuits in Guyana.
A report by Fr Thompson said even though everyone is still “a bit shaken” in light of what could have been considering the Mahdia tragedy, there is a deep feeling of gratitude that there were no injuries or fatalities.
He mentioned officials from the Regional Democratic Council, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and other Government officials promptly responded to the disaster and brought beds, blankets, stationery, and food to Karasabai as soon as they heard the news.
“It was good to see that psychological counselling from the Ministry of Health was offered to each of the girls and the Sisters following the fire,” Fr Thompson wrote.
He mentioned he and Bro Medino Abraham SJ are currently in Karasabai to provide pastoral support to the community, Sisters, and girls.
“Even though two of the Sisters have lost most of their belongings including one passport and cell phones, they are in good spirits and are very grateful for life,” he shared.
He said the Sisters are “determined” to rebuild the hostel and several of the parents have expressed their appreciation for the care and support given to their daughters so far.
While it is unclear what prompted the perpetrators to commit such an act, it has, Fr Thompson said, prompted the community and the Church to make young adult accompaniment and formation an urgent pastoral priority.
The girls will be accommodated in the coming weeks at the Ursuline convent in Karasabai and continue to receive the necessary counselling and support.
Persons wishing to give financial support can credit:
Republic Bank Account Number: 962956707400
Account Name: RC Bishop in Guyana
Donations may also be sent to the Ursuline Convent, 245 Camp Street, South Cummingsburg, Georgetown, Guyana.