Now that floodwaters have receded following June”s flooding in the Midwest, several people in the Rochester Diocese have reached out to Iowa parishes that were among those hardest hit.
Siblings John Collins, 6; Caty Collins, 7; Michael Collins, 9; and their friend Grace Thomas, 9, raised $300 for flooding victims in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by hosting a July 3 lemonade and brownie stand at their home in Penfield. The Collins children are students at St. Rita School in Webster.
In July Caty and her mother, Chrisann Collins, flew to Cedar Rapids to present the money to St. Jude Parish there. Chrisann and her husband John had previously lived in Cedar Rapids and attended St. Jude before moving to Penfield.
On the flight to Cedar Rapids, Chrisann said she and Caty met and chatted with a FEMA photographer. Once in the city, mother and daughter were able to witness examples of the devastation from the flooding, including a school that may have to delay its August opening due to flood damage.
"It was horrific and life-changing for myself and my daughter," Chrisann said of viewing the destruction.
Meanwhile, Churchville”s St. Vincent de Paul Church has decided to redirect proceeds from a monthly second collection that had benefitted a New Orleans parish to instead benefit St. Patrick Parish in Cedar Rapids, which suffered heavy damages during the flooding. The connection between the Churchville and Cedar Rapids parishes was made by former St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Sister Myra Hill, OSB, who is living at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, a Cistercian abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.
Upon Sister Hill’s suggestion, Kathy Kuntz, St. Vincent de Paul”s faith-formation co-coordinator, was able to speak with Penny Ackerman, St. Patrick”s faith-formation director and youth minister. Ackerman told Kuntz of significant losses in the parish center and the parish, where 3 feet of water remained following the flood. Though the parish was able to save its computers and electronic data, many other items were lost, Kuntz said.
"They lost everything in their parish center," she said. "The church was damaged. They lost flooring. They lost the pews."
Ackerman told Kuntz the parish also lost its faith-formation materials, including a set of Catholic youth Bibles, which parishioners had purchased after three years of fundraising. In addition to St. Vincent de Paul sending its collection, students taking part in the parish vacation Bible school raised about $100 for new Bibles by earning money doing household chores.
A family of St. Vincent de Paul parishioners, who asked to remain anonymous, volunteered to make up the difference to help the parish purchase a new set of Bibles, Kuntz said. St. Vincent de Paul also may contribute a set of faith-formation materials as it is upgrading to a newer edition, she added.
EDITOR”S NOTE: Cleanup efforts in the Midwest continue. To help, contact Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque at 800-772-2758 or send checks to Catholic Charities, PO Box 1309, Dubuque, IA 52004-1309 and designate the check as a disaster-relief donation. A list of volunteer opportunities and items that are being accepted for donation is available at http://flood2008.iowa.gov.
Donations also may be made by visiting www.catholiccharitiesusa.org, calling 800-919-9338, or sending checks to Catholic Charities USA Midwest Floods June 2008, PO Box 7068, Merrifield, VA 22116-7068.