Latest News from Sisters in Chile

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have three sisters missioned to Chile as well as associate members, called Familia de San José. Below are the latest updates on their situation from the Congregational Leadership.

  • Click here for photos of the earthquake aftermath taken by the sisters.
  • Learn more about the CSJ Congregation.

March 10


Click here to read a Catholic News Service article featuring Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters Margaret O'Rouke and Eileen Smits.

March 9


Our three sisters and all the members of the Familia de San José are safe and now beginning to start a long process of rebuilding and recovery. The earthquake has caused tremendous losses in both Talca and Curepto -- homes,hospitals, churches, businesses, schools and other buildings serving the needs of the people. Many of our sisters, associates, consociates and O'hana have expressed a desire to walk in solidarity with the people of Chile, and especially with the victims in the Talca diocese, as they move out of shock towards recovery.

All those who wish to send a monetary donation to help in this effort should send their contributions to the Congregational Center, 2311 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131. Make checks payable to Sisters of St. Joseph, with a note indicating this is for the "Chile Earthquake Fund." These monies will be added to the sums we will be wiring to Talca over the next several weeks.

March 1

Greetings to all,

As promised in the message we sent on Saturday, February 27, I am now sending you an update on our sisters and Familia de San José in Chile as they continue to cope with the challenges of the earthquake and continuing aftershocks still rocking the country.   I spoke with Sisters Margaret O'Rourke and Eileen Smits yesterday and learned that, though our house is still standing due to strong exterior walls, the interior walls (room dividers) are beginning to crumble somewhat, causing plaster to fall in a number of spots.  Therefore, like many of the families in the area, they have decided that it is much safer to sleep outside and so have put up a tent in the patio and are very grateful that it is now summer there and not the cold rainy season that will begin in a month or so.  Though we learned the other day that Sister Marcie Felipe is all right, there has been no further contact with her since it is impossible to make contact with cell phones in Vilches while electric power (needed to recharge them) is stilll out.

As far as we know, members of the Familia de San José in Talca have escaped bodily harm, but we have yet to assess the damage to (or destruction of) their homes.  We do know that almost every home in the city´s center was severely damaged, and many historic buildings were flattened.  All but two of the local hospital´s 13 wings are in ruins, and the majority of patients have been evacuated to safer venues.

The only member of the Curepto group of the Familia de San José about whom we have information is Mercedes (Menche) Rojas who has been serving as a volunteer at Hogar Belén (home for severely handicapped children) in Talca during the summer months.  There is no telephone communication with Curepto yet, but one courageous man from there managed to drive through a series of back roads (4 hrs. for 2 hr. trip) to reach Talca to report that the area around the plaza, including the huge Colonial-era church and the house where our sisters used to live (currently unoccupied), have suffered catastrophic damage.  The main road between Talca and Curepto has not collapsed but has been blocked by mudslides from the surrounding hills.  As soon as the road is cleared and the buses running again, Margaret will go to Curepto to check on the condition of the Familia de San José there.

As long as the one telephone in our Talca house is still working, I´ll be receiving daily updates. I will continue to keep you posted if I have more information to share with you.  Meanwhile, please continue to keep our sisters, the Familia de San José and all our dear neighbors throughout Chile in your hearts and prayers.

Peace and love to each of you,

Sister Catherine McNamee
Congregational Leadership

February 27

Peace to each and all!

As you may already know an 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Central Chile in the early hours of this morning (Saturday).

We wanted to let you know that our Sisters Margaret O'Rourke (LA), Eileen Smits (SL) who live in Talca, Chile, contacted S. Catherine McNamee to let us know that they are all right. They were able to contact S. Marcie Filipe (H) who lives in Vilches, Chile; she, too, is all right. Their houses sustained roof damage and things are in disarray with broken household items. The sisters will maintain contact with S. Catherine as they are able and will let us know about members of the Familia de San Jose who may have been affected by the quake.

We will follow the news closely and keep you posted when/if we have more information to share with you. Meanwhile, let us keep our dear neighbors, the people of Chile in prayer.

Peace to you and love,

Sisters Catherine, (Elizabeth), Francine, Laura and Susan
Congregational Leadership Team

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