USCCB leaders ask for prayers, donations for hurricane victims
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two U.S. Catholic leaders have called on Catholics to pray for victims of Hurricanes Michael and Florence, along with responders to these storms, and to donate to recovery efforts in the impacted areas.
"Let us respond with prayer and personal generosity," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in an Oct. 13 statement.
He said in the wake of these two recent hurricanes, "people across the southeast now face the long process of recovery. May God's mercy comfort family and friends who have lost loved ones and sustain those rebuilding their homes and businesses."
The cardinal said Catholics will "remain with our brothers and sisters throughout their journey," adding that he was grateful that so many had helped in the recovery efforts by volunteering or donating.
"Your generosity reveals Christ is present," he added in his statement issued in Rome where he is attending the Vatican synod on youth.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, similarly said in a separate statement Oct. 13: "Prayers and generosity are greatly needed at this time."
He urged for prayers for those first impacted by Hurricane Michael in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Cuba and for those more recently hit by the storm's deadly force in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
While the fury of this storm season continues, he said, he is reminded of the disciples' plea to Jesus as a violent storm threatened their lives. Now, as then, he said: "We implore to the one who 'commands even the winds and the sea' to give them strength and protection."
He said when Hurricane Michael was being monitored as a tropical storm, the USCCB "requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year."
The funds collected in this special appeal for 2018 disasters will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services, the official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church as they and their local agencies respond to immediate emergency needs.
He said when Hurricane Michael's impact becomes more clear, church leaders will work closely with local dioceses, Catholic relief entities and with other organizations to assess the needs on the ground and offer assistance.
Cardinal DiNardo said humanitarian needs still exist from previous hurricanes and that "new storms will bring new suffering" which is where Catholics can "help communities carry this cross" by participating in the emergency collection or donating directly to Catholic Charities at: www.catholiccharitiesusa.org or Catholic Relief Services at: www.crs.org.
The cardinal first announced the special collection Oct. 2 to help victims of Hurricane Florence and any other natural disasters that might occur the rest of the year.
"We offer our prayers to families who have lost loved ones or are among those injured. As is often the case, the poor are the hardest hit by these conditions, but many will have immense unmet needs," he said in a letter to the nation's bishops that was included in a news release about the need for this collection.
Cardinal DiNardo said the funds from this collection would be used for "humanitarian, long-term recovery and church needs arising from these storms."
Information about the Office of National Collections and its support of emergency relief efforts can be found at https://bit.ly/1DV1RGH.