By Kay Cozad
FORT WAYNE — In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, killing thousands of people including the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, communities across the country and the world continue to rally in support of their rebuilding efforts. The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, in its legendary generosity, has risen to the challenge, even in this depressed economic time, with a donation of its own.
Shortly following the quake newly installed Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades addressed the faithful of the diocese in a statement saying, “Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of suffering. I ask you to take up a second collection for the people and Church of Haiti on the weekend of Jan. 23-24. These funds will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Church in the U.S.”
The total raised from the diocesan-wide collection topped $561,000 and chief financial officer of the diocesan business office, Joseph Ryan, said this collection is second only to one taken to assist the the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “It was a super response,” he said. The money will go directly to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which will distribute the funds to the Haitian relief effort through Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
Top donor parishes in the diocese include St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne, St. Pius, Granger, Christ the King, South Bend, and St. Charles, Fort Wayne.
And according to a statement by Msgr. David J. Malloy of the Office of the General Secretary the distribution of money will support emergency needs and later assist with reconstruction efforts. “… the collections will be used ‘to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services … as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care, as well as to the long-term need to rebuild after widespread destruction, and to the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church in Haiti.’” While humanitarian efforts are currently paramount, assistance in the rebuilding of Church structures and programs will eventually be needed.
Other efforts of interest include one local youth group from Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington who responded to the tragedy by praying for victims while they discussed their responsibility in the support effort. The students, divided into two groups, responding to a challenge to raise $500 each within the week, gathered $2,333. Their pastor, Father Ron Rieder matched their donation and the group sent a check for $4,667 to Catholic relief Services. Youth director Jerid Miller said, “It was a fantastic lesson for all because it showed how a small community of young Catholics could make a difference in the face of overwhelming tragedy. It also demonstrated clearly what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ. It showed that when a member of the body suffers we suffer with them no matter how far away they may be. The youth of Ss. Peter and Paul plan to continue to discuss the Catholic response to tragedy and seek ways to make a difference at home and abroad.”
Bishop Rhoades expressed his deep gratitude to the faithful of the diocese. He said: “The money collected in our diocese for Haitian Relief was tremendous. I thank all our people for their wonderful generosity towards our suffering brothers and sisters in Haiti. It is a sign of our Christian solidarity with the people of that impoverished country who have suffered so much. Let us continue to pray for the people of Haiti during this season of Lent.”
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