THE director of a Christchurch Catholic group young adults has told of his ongoing mission to distribute sausages and lollipops to traumatised adults and children in the earthquake-shattered city.
Chris Lysaght, a former pastoral associate for Brisbane’s Darra/Jindalee parish, said he and other members of Christchurch diocese’s Catholic Youth Team (CYT) had distributed more than 1700 sausages last Sunday alone.
Mr Lysaght spoke of “many loaves and fishes moments” when, after starting with 200 sausages for an initial barbecue the Thursday after the deadly February 22 earthquake, another 5000 sausages were donated.
The CYT also secured a refrigerated van to store the donated sausages.
Mr Lysaght’s efforts underlined the near-Third World conditions into which the earthquake has plunged many parts of the once picturesque and placid city.
Many sections of the city are still without power and water.
The sausages have been a “godsend” for many deprived of hot food due to power failures.
Kaikoura parish priest Fr Eric Urlich told The Catholic Leader many people had fled from Christchurch to the town, located 185km north of the South Island’s main city.
Christchurch’s Bishop Barry Jones announced on February 25 all Catholic schools and parishes in the area would remain closed until inspected by safety officials.
Both Christchurch’s Catholic Cath-edral of the Blessed Sacrament and the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral have been severely damaged and may not be able to be rebuilt.
The 6.3-magnitude quake which struck at 12.51pm local time, causing what has been described as the New Zealand’s worst natural disaster, has so far claimed the lives of at least 154 people.
Police expected the final toll to reach about 240. Mr Lysaght said the CYT mission to provide hot food to people in the city’s eastern suburbs had started on a “very cold” February 24.
“Many of these suburbs had no power and water and we started a barbecue with 200 sausages,” he said.
“The barbecue was set up near a water tank where local people were coming to get their daily supply of drinking water.
“All 200 sausages went within one and a half hours and we decided we were on to something.
“I had a cousin who worked for a butcher and we got another 900 sausages which were distributed (the next day).”
Mr Lysaght said he had told the congregation at Sunday Mass at St Gregory’s in Bishopsgate what the CYT was doing and asked for support to continue the ministry.
“People were coming up afterwards and saying they knew someone who knew someone … next thing we had about 3000 sausages.
“It was hard to get bread so I asked everyone who was able to get hold of any loaves they might have stored in their freezers.”
A local meat processing company also donated 2000 sausages and a refrigerated van. About 50 people either with CYT or linked to the group have joined a roster system to continue the barbecues in the suburbs of Linwood North and Aranui.
Mr Lysaght said the CYT had received a donation of $5000 from the Mercy Sisters in New Zealand to help continue the ministry.
“It’s really not just about distributing hot food either,” he said.
“It’s a gathering point where people can support each other and ask questions like: ‘Did you feel the latest one (earth tremor) last night?’
“We are also helping to feed a lot of workers – engineers, telecommunication workers and the like – who are trying (to get the city back on its feet).
“God has given us this ministry and we’ll see it through … we’ll run the race and support people as long as people gather at the water tankers at these locations.”
Fr Urlich said Kaikoura’s motels and other accommodation had been filled by people from Christchurch taking refuge from feared further earthquakes.
He said the town had felt the impact of both the September and February earthquakes although the first one had done the most damage, cutting the town off from the north and the south.
“We also had a very violent localised shake early in February,” Fr Urlich said.
“The whole of New Zealand’s South Island is in a real mess after the latest jolt.
“So much of the island’s administration is centred on Christchurch.
“We’ve already had several Masses said here and I would ask all Australians to please pray for all of us.”
New Zealanders on March 1 paid tribute to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake with two minutes’ silence marking the moment the disaster struck. Australia’s Parliament also observed the silence.
Catholic cathedrals in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin tolled their bells before the two-minute silence. A service was held at the same time in Auckland’s Anglican Cathedral and attended by leaders of city churches, Mayor Len Brown and local MPs.
A Mass was also held in Brisbane’s St Stephen’s Cathedral at 12.30pm last Thursday to pray for the earthquake victims and all those affected by the disaster.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.