Life is not easy in the various territories of Myanmar, marked by the pandemic and by the ongoing conflict between the regular army and the resistance forces (People Defense Forces), born throughout the country to oppose the regime militarily. Citizens, and among them the Christian faithful, are in discomfort and poverty, they have no means of subsistence and often hide for fear of being in the midst of crossfire.
Father Celso Ba Shwe, Apostolic Administrator of Loikaw, in the state of Kayah, in the east of the country, tells Fides: “In addition to the pandemic, the current political crisis has worsened the life situation of our people. People live in fear and insecurity. We can expect bombs, hear shots at any moment. Gunmen can unexpectedly come into homes and arrest adults, young people, and adolescents accusing them of having some connection with illegal groups or associations. They can stop people on the street by checking their cell phones. Fights are underway outside the city and in nearby parishes. Given this dire situation and the growing number of internally displaced people, we have hosted more than 300 displaced people in our cathedral complex since May”. The priest then notes: “Starting from the second week of July, the third wave of Covid hit the state of Kayah. Many of my parishioners have been infected and some have died of Covid. In the past few weeks, more than 50 displaced people who are our guests resulted positive to the covid test and we had to do a quarantine by closing our church to other parishioners. In these situations, people are hungry and thirsty not only for food but also for spiritual nourishment.
“We try every possible means to reach people to give comfort and hope. We started a Eucharistic procession in the various neighborhoods, distributing prayer sheets and evangelical reflections. Often we also celebrate Mass and administer Holy Communion: this means a lot for them, it consoles them strongly. Many others follow the mass live streaming from the Cathedral”.
The faithful welcomed the presence of the priest with joy, appreciating his courage and closeness, thanking him because “like a Good Shepherd he comes to give us spiritual comfort, risking his life”, they affirm.
The administrator then reports: “In our diocese, in the parish of the city of Daungankha, there are more than one hundred displaced people housed in a house of the Sisters of Reparation of the Sacred Heart while all the parishioners have fled to safer places. Among them, there are people who have Covid. The parish church, Queen of Peace, was hit last May. There is great fear. Our humanitarian emergency team has managed to bring seven elderly and sick nuns to Loikaw to receive adequate care”.
Among the works of mercy implemented by the local Church in Loikaw, there is also the “Clinic of compassion”, a structure managed by the local Catholic community that continues to welcome and treat the wounded, sick, and suffering, without any distinction of ethnicity, religion, social status. There are religious, nuns, nurses, and lay volunteers who offer their service to alleviate the pain of patients, in a phase of great labor for the nation.