MASSGOERS across Cairns diocese this weekend will pray for the victims of Cyclone Larry after winds of about up to 290km per hour ripped off roofs and uprooted trees in the far north on March 20.
Bishop James Foley of Cairns, who was in Brisbane for a meeting of Queensland’s bishops when the category 5 cyclone struck, said this weekend’s prayers would be a spontaneous reaction to the devastation.
He said he spoke to priests in parishes devastated by the cyclone, many who said they were shocked at its speed.
Innisfail bore the brunt of the cyclone and police said more than half of the houses in the town of about 8500 people sustained damage.
However, no deaths were reported and injuries were minor.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Cyclone Larry was similar in size to Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people and destroyed about 70 per cent of Darwin in 1974.
Bishop Foley said he spoke to Innisfail parish priest Fr Frank Gordon the day after the cyclone struck.
He said Fr Gordon told him Good Counsel Church and primary school had both lost windows and sections of their roof during the cyclone.
He said a parish centre beside the church, which had sheltered 25 evacuees after the cyclone, would be used for Masses this weekend.
At St Rita’s Church, Babinda, doors were ripped off their hinges.
“There’s a lot of water damage in all of our schools and churches right across the diocese, including the Atherton Tablelands,” Bishop Foley said.
He said the cyclone could not have come at a worse time.
“It’s going to have a big impact on ordinary families’ budgets,” Bishop Foley said.
Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane offered prayers for those affected by the cyclone at a Mass to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his episcopal ordination in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane on March 20.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is providing emergency support to people affected by the destruction.