In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy talks about the much publicised story of the Chilean Miners.


Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published October 2010.

An estimated Two Billion people throughout the world watched and listened, as international media communicated the good news story, of courageous trapped Chilean miners being rescued. Rescuers lifted the miners, one at time, in a cage like capsule, named Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes. This mechanical constructed phoenix, travelled over a half of a kilometer through sheer rock up a narrow shaft no wider than a man’s shoulders. Each Journey took around 20 minutes. It was a journey and recue operation that has captivated our globe. In a time when we are consumed with bad news, this story gave great joy and hope to our human family.

Thousands of family, friends, government members and media awaited each miner in Camp Hope. This was the name given to the area set up by family members, who had accompanied rescue efforts since the August 5th mining disaster occurred. The 33 miners had to spend over 10 weeks in the sweltering cavern 622 meters below the surface of the small gold and copper mine. It was only 17 days after the mining disaster, and with hope dimming that the men would be found alive, that rescuers made contact with them. The news that all 33 missing men were alive and together and bearing up reasonably well through their ordeal sparked national rejoicing in a country still recovering from last February’s killer earthquake. Rescue teams on the surface were advised by Nassa on how to keep the men fit and emotionally well in the dark confined space, while the rescue shaft was being constructed and drilled. A small bore shaft was used to pass food and drinks to the miners and allowed them to communicate with family on the surface. President Sebastian Pinera of Chile, articulated the joy and renewed hope of his nation when he said “Today we know the possible is always in our grasp”

The miners have become a human example of resilience, determination, courage and faith. The miners shared that their experience of being trapped in the confines of darkness and fear was truly a life changing experience. An experience, where in the depth of their fragile situation, they received hope and courage that carried and sustained each one of them. They were a sign to me that God is faithful to his word.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”.

This miner’s miracle perhaps mirrors the many living phoenix moments in all our lives when we feel carried and supported in a time when we are overburdened and overwhelmed. There is a living phoenix in all our souls. A resilience that comes to the fore when we may have heavy crosses to carry or difficult mountains to climb. In the same way there are so many good people in all our families and communities who are there to help us face the light. We are, in the words of the scriptures,

“Children of the light”.

This miner’s miracle is indeed a good news story. May we all have the courage to embrace the possible, not to give up and be confident that help is close at hand. One Miner emotionally shared

“Life will never be the same again; I now know that I’m here for a reason”