WASHINGTON (CNS) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked bishops across the country to take up a voluntary collection to help Haiti recover from a recent pair of natural disasters.
Saying that Haitians are likely to experience continuing hardships from an Aug. 14 earthquake and a tropical storm that swept through the ravaged southwestern part of the country days later, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles made the request in a letter to bishops.
The magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated communities in southwestern Haiti. Nearly 2,200 people died, more than 12,000 were injured and hundreds more were missing Aug. 20.
Money collected will be funneled to the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund and will be used to support the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Haitian Catholic Church as well as efforts of Catholic Relief Services and possibly Catholic Charities USA.
The USCCB said in a news release Aug. 20 that if the money collected cannot be distributed in Haiti, funding will be used for other emergency relief where it is needed most as determined by the bishops’ Committee on National Collections.
Archbishop Gomez acknowledged in the letter that many U.S. dioceses continue to feel the financial pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic, but recognized that parishioners are generous and harbor deep care for people in need around the globe.
In addition, the bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America has approved $10,000 grants to three dioceses in Haiti that have been most heavily affected by the disaster.
Workers with CRS, the U.S. bishops overseas and relief agency, continue to distribute humanitarian aid in the affected region.
In an email Aug. 19 to priests of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Father Robert Rolfes, vicar general, said that “to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, Bishop [Donald] Kettler is asking that every parish of the Diocese of Saint Cloud take up a special collection on a weekend in September.”
“Thank you for the gracious support that you and the members of your parish will show to those whose lives have been affected by these disasters,” Father Rolfes wrote.
The CEO of the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Kelly, announced that his organization has made an initial commitment of $250,000 to assist those suffering on the island nation.
“Our prayers are with our neighbors in Haiti as they recover from yet another tragedy and seek once again to rebuild,” Supreme Knight Kelly said Aug. 19. “Just as we reached out to provide aid following the 2010 earthquake, the Knights of Columbus will again reach out in charity to help our neighbors in need in Haiti.”
After the 2010 earthquake, the Knights became active in Haiti, providing over $1 million in financial assistance to Haitians in need, in particular to help restore mobility to those injured in the quake.
Through its partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission, the Knights of Columbus has delivered more than 1,000 wheelchairs to Haiti. In collaboration with Project Medishare, the Knights contributed major financial support for a sustainable prosthetics and rehabilitation program in Haiti and helped to create the Emilio B. Moure Clinic for Hope in Port-au-Prince.
The clinic, named for the Knights’ late supreme secretary, houses materials and equipment, and it serves as a classroom for training Haitians who are eligible to be hired as prosthetic technicians.
“The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization with a deep sense of brotherhood among our members,” Kelly said. “In keeping with the mission of our founder, Blessed Michael McGivney, we are also deeply committed to a charity which sees all humanity as brothers and sisters.”