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Catholic Charities supports victims of Hurricane Laura

August 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Denver Newsroom, Aug 31, 2020 / 05:34 pm (CNA).- After Hurricane Laura struck states along the Gulf of Mexico last week, Catholic Charities and other groups have provided aid to victims, some of whom have been displaced or are still without utilities.

With winds of 150 mph, the category 4 hurricane made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, on the early morning of Aug. 27. As measured by maximum sustained winds, it is one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana in recorded history.

In the United States alone, the storm has killed 22 people: 14 in Louisiana, one in Florida, and seven in Texas. A large portion of deaths was attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to unsafe generators, CBS News reported.

As of Aug. 30, 900,000 people were still without power and 220,000 were without running water. Karen Clark & Company’s industry estimated that the hurricane’s damages have caused $8.7 billion of insured losses in the U.S.

Hurricane Laura has also caused severe damages to parishes and church buildings in the Diocese of Lake Charles. According to the diocese, nearly one-third of priests in active ministry have been displaced and all the homes for the Daughters Mary Mother of Mercy are uninhabitable. Additionally, only one of the six Catholic schools can open next week, and the chancery is closed because of extensive roof damage.

“The city is a disaster,” said Bishop Glen Provost of Lake Charles. “No house, no business is left untouched. The Chancery will be unusable in the foreseeable future. We have 39 (church) parishes and seven missions. All suffered some damage.”

“St. Louis Catholic High School is severely damaged,” the bishop added. “Father (Nathan) Long, rector of the school, reported that the roof on the administration building is, for the most part, blown off. Windows in various classrooms are blown in, and there is roof damage at the gym.”

Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana opened shortly after the hurricane struck and has been receiving donations and supplies to provide to the victims. Sister Miriam Maclean, director of Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, has encouraged donations to be sent to the dioceses of New Orleans and Lafayette because of the Catholic Charities’ small storage space.

“We are here, we are open and we are trying to meet the needs of the community,” said Sister Miriam.

“The Lord preserved Catholic Charities from any major damage for sure so that we can be up and operational,” she continued. “We have a little bit of leakage in the roof, and a couple of roll-up doors got a little damage, but we are blessed. We have a generator, and the Religious Sisters of Mercy are running the office.”

Sister Marjorie Hebert, president of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, told CNA that other dioceses across the state would also be providing services including her own. She said that as the hurricane struck on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, she has been able to share her experience with other dioceses.

“Part of what my staff and I have been about is being in contact with the other Catholic Charities in the rest of the state and the other dioceses of Louisiana … We have been in contact with some of those directors and are doing assessment [to] see how we might further assist them.”

“My counterpart in the Lake Charles diocese, I know exactly what she’s dealing with the darkness of no electricity, no potable water, all of those. So at least I’ve been there, and I can say, ‘I know what you’re going through,’” she added.

“Just [a] short 15 years ago, we New Orleanians we’re on the receiving end, and now it’s our time to give back and to further assist.”

As New Orleans has received thousands of evacuees, she said their community has also provided help by offering basic necessities and counseling services to help comfort those who have been displaced. She said some of the people were able to evacuate with some supplies while others were rescued and brought over with almost nothing.

“Our immediate efforts are to reach out. As a Catholic Charities agency in New Orleans, we are working very closely with the city to coordinate efforts of responding to the needs of the evacuees in the community.”

“We have been in contact with our churches and parishes and civil authorities just to see if there are some basic needs of some areas near the coastline that they may have gotten some floodwaters. We are working with the calls that are coming into our agency as well as referrals coming to us from the city and state officials locally.”

Among other Catholic initiatives in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, several parishes and charity groups have launched donation drives to bring in water, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and baby supplies.

Bishop Provost expressed his gratitude for all the contributions and prayers.

“We appreciate everyone’s prayers,” he said. “Bishops in other dioceses have sent word of assistance to us, so we appreciate the fellowship of the other Catholic dioceses throughout the nation. I have heard from bishops on the East and West coasts, and especially in Texas and Louisiana.”


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News Briefs

San Francisco archbishop calls on mayor to end ‘excessive limits’ on outdoor Mass

August 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).-  

In a letter to San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed and other city officials, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Monday called on the city’s secular authorities to, “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”

“Particularly for us as Catholics, attending the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in person is the source and the summit of our faith, and we have shown we can celebrate the Mass safely,” Cordileone wrote Aug. 31.

The San Francisco County Department of Health is currently limiting outdoor worship services to 12 people, with indoor worship services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties. 

Cordileone called the city’s restrictions on outdoor Masses “a serious deprivation of our rights as Americans under the First Amendment and our spiritual needs as people of faith.”

“San Francisco is the only government in the entire Bay Area that restricts public gatherings to 12 people out of doors. Ours and others’ faith is being treated as less important than a trip to the
hardware store, or a nice dinner out on the patio,” Cordileone stated.

Cordileone cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.

Over the last 14 weeks, the doctors said, approximately 17,000 parishes have held three or more Masses each weekend, as well as daily services, combining to equal more than 1 million public Masses celebrated across the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

By following public health guidelines, these Masses have largely avoided viral spread. The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.

“One million public Masses without any [COVID-19] outbreaks demonstrates that it is just as safe in San Francisco as in other parts of the state, such as San Mateo County, to permit large gatherings for outdoor public worship with reasonable safety precautions,” Cordileone commented.

Some parishes in San Francisco, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, have been holding simultaneous outdoor Masses in order to adapt to the 12-person limit.

The City of San Francisco has been closely monitoring Catholic churches in the city and has repeatedly issued warnings to the archdiocese for apparent health order violations.

The archdiocese told CNA in July that it had made a good-faith effort to comply with the city’s public health guidelines, despite some occasional confusion and last-minute changes to the city’s public health orders.

“Our intention has always been to conform to what we understand to be the City orders and timelines,” the archdiocese said July 2, noting that the city’s orders have been changing throughout the pandemic, sometimes on short notice.

In a July 30 memo, Cordileone exhorted his priests to be as diligent as possible in bringing the sacraments to their people, including celebrating outdoor Masses each Sunday, and providing Confession in a safe manner as often as possible.

“Please regularly remind people to follow the safety practices necessary to curb the spread of the virus. This is real, it is dangerous, and it has to be taken seriously,” he added.

“The resurgence is due in no small part to people becoming lax once the shelter-in-place rules began to be lifted. Please urge these practices upon them; absolutely do not give them the impression that the coronavirus is not a serious threat to the physical health of our community.”

Cordileone has pointed out that the city has allowed retail stores to operate at 50% capacity during the same time period that Christians are prohibited from gathering in their churches, even with masks and social distancing in place.

San Francisco has seen numerous street protests in recent months, including one in late June that resulted in the destruction of a statue of St. Junípero Serra by a crowd of about 100 people.

“With regard to outdoor services, you are all well aware that pre-planned and scheduled street protests have been allowed to continue unhindered, while the limit of no more than 12 people still applies to everyone else, including us,” he continued.

“Yet here again, an outdoor worship service is a much safer event than a protest, since the people are stationary, social distance is respected, and the participants are wearing masks.”

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which provides liturgical resources in the archdiocese, shared a petition Aug. 31 in support of Cordileone’s statement calling for the lifting of restrictions on the Mass.



The Dispatch

Vocation and Singlehood

August 31, 2020 John Paul Meenan 20

Mary Cuff’s recent Crisis article premising that the single life is not a vocation, has left many singles rather nonplussed. The following words are meant to offer some hope and consolation to those who, for […]