Page 9, 20th April 2007

20th April 2007
Page 9
Page 9, 20th April 2007 — God first, then cricket

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People: Bill O'Carroll
Locations: Bridgetown


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God first, then cricket

Fr Bill O'Carroll on the urgent need to repair Grenada cathedral Cricket, lovely cricket. After Christianity, the next great influence in the West Indies is cricket. The people here breathe and love this sport. It is everyone's game. The children play it on the country roads. Everywhere there is a level piece of land, stumps are put up and cricket is played.

Today, in the National Cricket Stadium, here in St George's, Grenada, Australia will take on New Zealand, a fixture that many commentators expect to be replayed for the World Cup final in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The National Cricket Stadium was built six years ago, only to be blown asunder by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Shortly after the disaster, the Chinese government offered to restore the stadium and now, more than two years on, constructors have made a marvellous ground in which cricket fans have been enjoying the special atmosphere of the World Cup.

Hurricane Ivan was a terrible blow for Grenada and its capital city, St • George's. Ivan showed no mercy. People were killed, roofs began to fly, walls cracked and houses crumbled. Schools, factories, shops, hotels, restaurants and retirement homes came crashing down. Churches of all denominations collapsed. Everywhere there was devastation and misery. . Electricity and telephones were cut off. Desolation and loneliness descended on the country. Until that awful day, Grenada's economy was based on harvesting nutmeg, cocoa and fruits as well as the island's fishing fleets and tourism.

All these industries were almost wiped out and it will take many years for them to return to their former heights.

In the appalling wake of the disaster, people turned to the only ones that could help them: God and His Blessed Mother, Grenadians have always had a great devotion to Mary. Even though they had no churches in which to pray, they gathered wherever they could to continue worshipping God.

On a personal note, every year for the past 10 years I do a sponsored 100-mile "Walk for Mary". [ did this walk a month after Hurricane Ivan. At the top of the highest point on the island, Grand Etang, I was interviewed by a reporter from an American newspaper. He asked me if there was any hope for Grenada. I saw a little flower beginning to raise its petals above ground. I pointed to it and said that this is the Grenada of the future: "The sun will rise again on Grenada."

Since Hurricane Ivan much has been done to restore Grenada. Many countries, particularly America, Britain, Germany, France, the Caribbean and South American states have come to the aid of the people of Grenada. Many schools and homes have been restored. Some of the damaged churches have been made functional again. But there is insufficient funding to repair our most important church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The total cost to return the cathedral to its original glory is estimated at $2.5 million. The Holy See has generously given contributions and a number of benefactors at home and abroad have helped. About a sixth of the amount needed has been raised, so we still have long way to go. God loves his people and gives them a lift when they need it. One side of the people's needs has been met through the acquisition of a lovely new stadium and through the granting of the privilege of hosting of the Cricket World Cup.

I hope readers of this article will help us to restore the other, more important, love of the people: the love of God through worship in our Holy Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

We are asking the readers of The Catholic Herald to come to our assistance. Cheques or money orders should be made payable to: "Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Restoration Fund" at the Republic Bank (Grenada), account number 92071957.

Send to: Fr Bill O'Carroll, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, P 0 Box 224, St George's Grenada, West Indies.

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