The current hurricane season in the US and the monsoon season in SE Asia have brought much destruction due to flooding. Hurricane Harvey has caused thousands of homes to be destroyed and people evacuated to shelters. Devastating floods across SE Asia have displaced 41 million people. When natural disaster happens, the resulting death and destruction becomes a shared experience wherever it strikes.
Outreach efforts by the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston have included 25 parishes serving as shelters and/or donation centres. Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will be providing direct long-term assistance and case management services to victims as they begin to rebuild.
Meanwhile, Caritas organizations are responding to the needs in India, Nepal and Bangladesh by providing food, clean drinking water, and shelter. Emergency relief is also focused on preventing the spread of waterborne disease by delivering health, hygiene and sanitation support.
Let us pray for the victims of these disasters, standing in solidarity with them as they continue with recovery efforts and start to rebuild from such devastation. Just as the Diocese mobilized together when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, let us once again do so to help the millions impacted by these natural disasters.
Donations made to help with Hurricane Harvey will be sent to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston. Donations made to assist with the emergency relief in SE Asia will be sent through Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada to help with humanitarian aid for Caritas India, Caritas Bangladesh and Caritas Nepal. Donations can be made online through the Diocese of Calgary website or mailed to the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
Please forward all funds collected to the Pastoral Centre.
- DONATE ONLINE or
- Send a cheque to Catholic Pastoral Centre (120 17th Ave SW, Calgary T2S-2T2) and mark cheques with a note – Hurricane Harvey or South Asia Floods.
☩ William McGrattan
Bishop of Calgary
Historically, parishioners of our Diocese have responded with great generosity in times of crisis at home and around the world.
The response to the devastation caused by the fire in Fort McMurray has been no exception. More than $270,000 has been raised and forwarded to the Diocese of St. Paul. Fifty percent of funds raised will be used to support the parishes in Fort McMurray, and fifty percent will be given to the Fort McMurray Ministerial Association for any of the families under their ministry. Policies and procedures have been put in place to ensure funds are disbursed and managed fairly and ethically.
There is still a need for further support as families and businesses begin to rebuild. Funds can continue to be donated through our Diocese and will be forwarded to the Diocese of St. Paul. You can do so at the donate section of our website.
Thank you for extending your love and generosity to our neighbours in Fort McMurray.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!James 3:5
The fires of Fort McMurray have catalyzed the world, and they have proven once again how large the heart of Albertans are at all times, but especially in moments of crisis. Over the coming months commentators will speculate on what could have been done better and on how to prevent future such catastrophes. They will inevitably draw comparisons to other fires: the Great Fire of London, 1666, where 70,000 out of the city’s 80,000 residents were left homeless; or the 2011 Great Slave Lake Fire in Alberta where the entire community of 7,000 residents were evacuated. In the end, however, what will be remembered are the tales of courage and compassion, celebrating the many who fought the fire, fled the inferno, assisted in housing the displaced, or who raised money and supplies to help.
We will remember the educators, like the principal at Father Turcotte School, who loaded a bus full of stranded students and fled the inferno all while liaising with anxious parents and guardians. We will remember the fire chief who led a campaign against “the Beast, leading a team of gallant and exhausted firefighters, many of whom had themselves lost their homes. We will also remember the politician who called for unity rather than partisan politics, even as his home burned, and that only a year after he had lost his son.
Seneca the Younger, one of early Rome’s most famous philosophers, once said that “Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men,” and his words are proven true in the aftermath of this tragedy. Possessions are lost, but courage prevails. The scale of the tragedy is enormous, but the relief effort is bigger. The churches are filled with prayer and compassion; the volunteers are opening their hearts and giving of their time. Many of the post-secondary institutions have made their residences available to help the displaced. And charity is plentiful and moving: the eight-year-old girl who donated a $100 of her own money; the runner who undertook a charity marathon even though he had never heard of Fort McMurray until the fire; the Syrian refugees who raised almost $4000 for fire relief even though they themselves had recently lost everything they owned.
It is always difficult to put tragedies into context. At St. Mary’s University I looked at a photo of a staff member’s street in Fort McMurray. Five houses with For Sale signs stood untouched by fire; hers, not for sale, was aflame. Who can say why bad things happen to good people. What is clear is that how we respond to tragedy is what defines the human spirit, and it is what helps a community to heal. In that sense it’s true to say that Fort McMurray will be stronger when it is rebuilt, not just because new infrastructure will be developed, but because every resident will know that the hearts of many are behind the reconstruction. This is the flame of compassion that will rebuild the town.
Development and Peace has raised $6.3 million for humanitarian aid for the Horn of Africa, which is currently experiencing the worst drought in the region in 60 years.
Emergency needs remain high in the region and in addition to supporting projects in Ethiopia and Kenya to bring assistance to the most-affected communities, it is now contributing to several new projects, including responding to sanitation, hygiene and water needs in the new Kambioos refugee camp in Kenya. This camp has opened in response to the influx of Somali refugees crossing into Kenya to escape famine in their country. The project will last 12 months and will benefit 48,000 refugees in the camp.
Background Information on the Syrian Crisis - Videos have been produced by Salt & Light Television on the Syrian Crisis and are accessible to parishes. A video featuring an interview with Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit priest expelled from Syria earlier this year can be viewed here.
Salt & Light TV also produced a Perspectives Video titled "What's the Christian Response to Syria?" It can be viewed on the Salt & Light website here.
Syrian Crisis Relief Effort - The Holy Father has appealed international efforts to assist Syrian refugees fleeing Syria and to encourage peace efforts in this region. The Holy Father's most recent appeal can be found on the Vatican website here.
CNEWA - Canada, the Canadian Catholic Near East Welfare Association is collecting funds to assist refugees fleeing Syria. Our Diocese of Calgary is accepting financial donations to assist Syrian refugee victims and all funds will be forwarded to CNEWA-Canada. Donations can be made as follows:
- by sending a cheque payable to your parish earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort"
- by sending a cheque payable to the Diocese earmarked "Syrian Relief Effort" and sent to the Pastoral Centre, 120 17th Ave S.W., Calgary AB T2S 2T2.
More information from CNEWA-Canada on Syrian Relief efforts is available on its website here.
For further questions, please contact Jana Drapal at the Social Justice Office at 403-218-5519 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.