The Reformed Christian Calvinist Church in Croatia opened their out of use parishes for the victim families of the earthquake in Petrinja. The Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) launched a fundraising campaign to support reconstruction works. Péter Szenn Bishop of the Reformed Christian Calvinist Church in Croatia explained the the details in an interview.
Where were you at the time of the earthquake? What did you experience?
We got scared. For the first few seconds we didn’t realise the amount of damage around Petrinja and Sisak the 6.4 on the Richter magnitude scale earthquake caused. We were 270 kilometres away from the epicentre, but we were still able to feel the ground shake beneath us and it filled us with fear.
Was the Reformed Christian Calvinist Church affected by the natural disaster? Did it cause any damage to churches, parishes or church properties?
We contacted our church members who go to congregations in Zagreb around the epicentre. Everybody is safe, no one’s life was in danger. Despite the destruction in the area, they only suffered minimal material damage. We don’t have any parishes there, so we don’t own any buildings in the area, but our Catholic brothers and sisters suffered huge casualties: the Cathedral in Sisak and many churches got damaged and some of the towers had to be torn down because of that.
How did the series of earthquakes affect Croatia spiritually?
Crises like this remind people of war. Everybody – regardless of nationality, religion or denomination – wants to help. It’s the love from God that drives people to help those without a home.
This was demonstrated well in the country: in 3 days they collected as much food, disinfectants and clothing as needed. People sent so many supplies that the charity organizations were able to store some of them. There have been some aftershocks, but the professional services are inspecting the buildings and they will -for example- remove chimneys if needed. Wherever it’s possible reconstructions will begin too. Huge effort and support is needed in order to rebuild the destroyed parts of Croatia.
The Hungarian Reformed Church Aid launched a fundraising and the reformed community from Nagykanizsa sent material help to Croatia.
In times of need, when something bad happens, our first thought in the Carpathian Basin is how to help. We think about each other and take care of each other. Not only the congregation in Nagyakanizsa, but many pastors and bishops called from the Reformed Church in Hungary to ask how they can help. This is a great feeling.
We’ve also offered 3 parishes we don’t use but they are in good condition through the catholic bishopric in Sisak so families who’ve lost their houses can have temporary home. Our church members joined charity campaigns through local governments. We plan to organise more fundraisings joining HRCA.
Translated by Csenge Kiss
Proofread by Avery Gill