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BRIGHTON — Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley announced Aug. 31 that a special collection will be taken up at Masses Sept. 3-4 to assist those in need as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. The archbishop also said that Catholic Charities USA is prepared to direct people who want to help.
In a statement announcing the collection the archbishop said, “We are witnessing a dramatic and heart wrenching human tragedy in those areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Having personally experienced the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 while I was Bishop of the Virgin Islands I am well aware of the plight of those who have lost their homes and personal possessions and now lack shelter, clean water, food, electricity and communications.”
"We are called to join together at this difficult time to assist our fellow citizens in any way we can. We ask God's blessing on them and on the relief workers who are performing heroic acts of rescue and in delivering much needed supplies throughout the affected regions. We pray that as one community of people, we can help to ease their suffering," he continued.
On Aug. 30 Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called on all 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States to hold special collections for hurricane victims.
Bishop Skylstad, who heads the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., said officials of the USCCB had not been able to reach most of the bishops in the affected area as of Aug. 30 because of problems with power and communications systems. But he said a request for a national collection had been received.
"Millions of people are in need of assistance and Catholic Charities will be among the primary responders," he said in a message to his fellow bishops. "Catholic Charities USA, working with the local diocesan Catholic Charities, has a professional and well-developed system of reviewing the needs and providing help where it can accomplish the most good."
Bishop Skylstad said Hurricane Katrina had caused devastation and destruction “in many dioceses,” but that Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hardest-hit. “As the storm proceeds north through Tennessee and Kentucky even more people will be affected,” he added.
"The media coverage has made it abundantly clear that the needs will be great, and long-lasting," the bishop said.
Editor’s note: In addition to the special collection, contributions also may be sent directly to: 2005 Hurricane Relief Fund, Catholic Charities USA, P.O. Box 25168, Alexandria, VA 22313-9788.