Shortly after a massive, 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti on Jan. 12, Catholic Relief Services pledged $5 million in aid to the impoverished nation. Local Catholics have mobilized as well, and are trying to help CRS provide the pledged funds and other forms of aid to Haitians affected by the earthquake.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark urged all parishes in the Diocese of Rochester to take up a second collection during all Masses the weekend of Jan. 16-17. Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, chairman of CRS, in asking dioceses across the country to take up such collections. The money collected through these efforts will be sent to CRS and will help the agency provide such immediate necessities as food, water, shelter and medical care. Aid from CRS also will help Haitians rebuild, and assist the Catholic Church in Haiti to address its pastoral and reconstruction needs, according to a Jan. 13 letter from Cardinal George and Archbishop Dolan to the nation’s bishops.
“Our Church mourns the terrible suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” the letter stated. “The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January 12, 2010 has already claimed thousands of lives including the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. It has destroyed countless homes, churches, seminaries, schools and other buildings and has left millions without the most basic necessities of life. Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of suffering.”
In a Jan. 13 e-mail to parishioners, Father Michael Bausch, pastor of Church of the Transfiguration Parish in Pittsford, encouraged parishioners to contribute to the parish’s second collection. Transfiguration also will take up a special collection for the CRS relief effort during Masses the weekend of Jan. 23-24.
Father Bausch visited Haiti in the 1980s, and the poverty he witnessed there was beyond anything he could have imagined and left an indelible impression on him, he wrote in the e-mail.
“Our prayers for the people of Haiti is the first priority for all of us at this moment in global solidarity,” Father Bausch wrote. “We need to be a sign of hope for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and I pray that you will be most generous to them in this hour of need.”
More information about CRS’ relief efforts in Haiti may be found at www.crs.org. The Web site also includes a link for those who wish to donate to the cause electronically by using a credit card.