Archdiocese asks local Catholics to help those affected by wildfires, hurricanes

A firefighter from Chula Vista, Calif., monitors the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in Lake County Aug. 23, 2020. (CNS photo/Adrees Latif, Reuters)

People can donate to relief efforts through Catholic Charities USA or Catholic Relief Services, helping those forced to flee their homes

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Detroit is asking Catholics in southeast Michigan to consider donating to help those affected by recent natural disasters along the Gulf Coast and in the western United States.

Over the past several weeks, hurricanes Laura and Sally lashed the Louisiana and Alabama coasts, and raging wildfires in California, Oregon and other western states have caused deaths and property damage as people flee their homes and businesses.

Donations (which can be made here) would directly benefit relief efforts through Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA. 

“We hold in prayer all those impacted by hurricanes Laura and Sally on the Gulf Coast and the wildfires in the western states,” Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a statement. “May God protect and alleviate the suffering of everyone along these paths of destruction. With this special collection, we stand in solidarity with the victims and in support of the first-responders to these disasters, especially those from Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA.”

In early September, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked his fellow bishops to consider having their parishes take up a special collection to aid dioceses and parishes stricken by recent natural disasters.

“The traditional storm season has only just begun and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires,” the archbishop wrote in a letter to his fellow bishops. “Thousands of homes, businesses, and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed and the impacts will be long-lasting.”

Archbishop Gomez acknowledged the severity of the impact of COVID-19 on parish and diocesan activities and its challenging impact on fundraising, but he also expressed hope in the generosity of the faithful and their care for those in need.

“We offer our prayers to families who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Funds collected will become part of the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund and will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, according to Archbishop Gomez. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will also be allotted some of the collections’ proceeds for pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church.

Funds will be used in response to Hurricane Laura and any other disasters that occur and will be distributed where they are most needed, he said. However, if those needs become unnecessary, impractical or impossible to fill, the USCCB may use contributions for other emergency disaster relief where it is most needed as determined by the USCCB's Committee on National Collections using its emergency response protocol.

Archbishop Gomez said Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, chairman of that committee, has been in touch with bishops in disaster-stricken areas “to learn about their situations and to offer our prayers and our desire to be of assistance in this time of need.”

Aid relief efforts

To help relief efforts for those affected by recent hurricanes and wildfires, coordinated through Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA, click here

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.