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“Spiritual Closeness”… In The Face Of The “Immense Material Devastation” Of A Historic Hurricane

September 6, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

(Editor’s Note: Below The Wanderer presents a selection of statements from Church leaders in response to Hurricane Harvey. Note that this issue of The Wanderer went to press on August 31.)

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“Deeply Moved” By The “Tragic Loss Of Life”

Pope Francis stated in an August 31 message his wish that the United States, affected by Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas and then moved to Louisiana, will receive “a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.” ZENIT News Agency reported on the Holy Father’s message on August 31.
In a telegram of condolences, made public on August 31, Francis assured the U.S. of his prayers for the victims, which as of that date numbered about 30. Several hundred people were then still unreachable.
The Pontiff affirmed hid “spiritual closeness” and his “pastoral concern” for all those affected by this hurricane, read the message in English, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and addressed to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Deeply moved” by the “tragic loss of life” and by the “immense material devastation that this natural catastrophe has left in its wake,” the Holy Father prayed “for the victims and their families, and for all those engaged in the vital work of relief, recovery, and rebuilding.” The material damages were estimated to be over 100 billion just for the state of Texas.
He also hoped that “the immense and immediate needs of so many individuals and communities” would inspire “a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation. “
With the “renewed promise of his prayers,” the Pontiff sent his blessing “as pledge of consolation, strength, and peace in the Lord.”

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A Call For Solidarity With Our Brothers And Sisters Impacted By Hurricane Harvey

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) president, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has called for prayers and solidarity with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Cardinal DiNardo on August 27 also called on all people of goodwill to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead.
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows.
“Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region. The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them. Many dioceses of the Church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues.
“As the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, this crisis hits very close to home. In solidarity with my brother bishops in this area of the country, I call on people of faith to pray for all of those who have been impacted by this Hurricane, and I ask people of goodwill to stand with the victims and their families.
“May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion, protect all who are still in danger, and bring to safety those who are missing. May He care in a special way for those who were already homeless, or without support and resources, before this disaster.
“We pray in thanksgiving for the first responders who are risking their lives to save others at this very moment. We include in our intentions the everyday heroes reaching out to help their neighbors in need, those who, like the Good Samaritan, cannot walk by a person in need without offering their hand in aid.
“The USCCB is working closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic Charities USA, and St. Vincent de Paul, along with other relief organizations, to assess the needs on the ground. In the next couple of days, we will share more about the best ways to assist those in the Gulf region with material needs based on the latest information we can gather. May God bless you and your families this day and always.”

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Concerning The Catastrophic Effects Of Hurricane Harvey

Below is the joint statement of Bishop Joe S. Vasquez and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Garcia of Austin on August 29:
“Together with our brother bishops, we urge all people of good will to be united with those suffering as a result of the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. We are deeply concerned about the parishes, communities, and people that have been and will continue to be impacted by the storm. We urge all people to continue to follow the safety directives of the local emergency management officials. Even as the hurricane has been downgraded, some victims will feel the long-term effects of the system for years to come.
“We encourage the faithful of the Diocese of Austin to be spiritually united with the communities affected through prayer and support. Because we believe that ‘God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress’ (Psalm 46:1), our neighbors require our resolve to help them in their time of need.
“Considering the unprecedented flooding and the disheartening circumstances in which our brothers and sisters find themselves, we are reminded that Jesus requires us to help our neighbors out of mercy and love (cf. Luke 10:29-37).
“Catholic Charities of Central Texas is coordinating our diocesan relief efforts. We encourage you to visit www.ccctx.org for more information on how to offer help and to provide financial assistance for the victims of the storm.”
And Bishop Vasquez of Austin also released the statement below on August 28:
“Please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters experiencing the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Let us invoke the protection of our Blessed Mother.”
“Por favor, unanse a mi en oracion por nuestros hermanos y hermanas que se encuentran experimentando la devastacion causada por el Huracan Harvey. Invoquemos la proteccion de nuestra Santa Madre.”

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“Calm The Hurricane, Gentle The Rains”

Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas offered this statement on August 28:
“Dear Friends in Christ,
“We are all very concerned about our brothers and sisters on the Gulf Coast who are suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. I have asked all 74 of our parishes in the Diocese of Dallas to take up a Special Collection on September 2 and 3 or September 9 and 10. The funds collected will be used to provide for the most urgent needs of the victims of this historic storm such as shelter, food, water, and clothing. I know the good people of our diocese will be generous.
“If for some reason you cannot contribute to the Special Collection, I ask you to assist the storm victims in another very important way, by offering special prayers for their safety and recovery. I share this Prayer for Hurricane Victims from our Office of Worship:
“ ‘Gracious and loving God, We ask you to calm the hurricane, gentle the rains, and send clear skies for the recovery. Spare those who were uprooted and dislocated from further harm. Help those in the storm’s way to return to safety, stability, and security. Open our hearts in generosity to all who have no resources, whether physical, spiritual, or economic.
“ ‘In all things and at all times, help us to remember that when the storms of life come upon us, you are always with us, leading us to shelter, guiding us to safety, comforting us in our need. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.’
“Certainly you can offer a Rosary, a novena or other prayers for this special intention.
“Another important note is that the Bishops of Texas along with the Catholic Charities across the state will meet by phone on August 30 to determine how to best coordinate our resources now and in the coming weeks to ensure that the communities ravaged by Hurricane Harvey receive the support they need.
“The Diocese of Dallas with Catholic Charities of Dallas and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Dallas also are coordinating with the City of Dallas, Dallas County, American Red Cross, and other Emergency Response agencies to determine how our Catholic community can best offer assistance to all those men, women, and children from the Gulf Coast who have sought refuge in the Dallas area.
“May God our Heavenly Father bless all who have been affected by this epic storm. May He protect and keep them and bring them comfort and strength in the days and months ahead.”

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“We Can Be A Sign Of God’s Compassion Through Prayer And Charity”

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans stated on August 28:
“Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
“Many cities in Texas have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, some of those devastated. The rebuilding will be complicated and take a very long time.
“Many have expressed a desire to offer prayerful support and a gift for the people as they clean up and start rebuilding. If you wish to send a financial gift, you may do so through your parish or send your gift to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, 7887 Walmsley Ave., New Orleans, LA 70125. These gifts will go directly to those most in need.
“Most importantly, please pray daily for those who have died and those who have lost homes and property. May God give them hope and perseverance in this time of need. We can be a sign of God’s compassion through prayer and charity. Having been through such experiences, we know the pain they experience.
“As we remember Katrina, we remain grateful for the people of Texas who came to our aid. May we do the same for them.”

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“We Find Special Comfort And Solace In God’s Holy Word”

Bishop Robert W. Muench offered these remarks on August 31:
“We, the Church in and of Baton Rouge, extend our hearts and prayers to all devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Having had our own experiences of the devastation that natural disasters can bring to life, property, livelihood, security and well-being, we identify and empathize with others so affected.
“A special monetary collection will be taken up in all our churches on the weekend of September 9-10, 2017. Checks should be made out to the ‘Diocese of Baton Rouge, Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund’ and placed in the Church collection or mailed to P.O. Box 2028, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-2028.
“Our Diocesan Catholic Charities will also be working with the network of Catholic relief agencies in the entire region offering physical support and help.
“In so doing we hope to promote human solidarity with, spiritual and material support of, sincere commitment to and effective recovery for storm victims. As good stewards of our local Church we commiserate with, pray for, and conscientiously extend outreach to our neighbors so afflicted.
“During this crisis we find special comfort and solace in God’s Holy Word as recorded by St. Paul:
“‘I consider this suffering of the present time as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us…We know that all things work for good for those who love God’ (Romans 8:18, 28).
“May God bless us all.”

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