Facing forecasts of severe floods, Bishop of Fargo Samuel Aquila has appealed for volunteers to combat the threat and has asked parishioners to “keep in fervent prayer” all those who may be affected.
Much of the eastern half of North Dakota is threatened by floods predicted to be more severe in some areas than the 1997 floods whose waters devastated several areas of the diocese.
The National Weather Service said the Red River was about three feet above flood stage (18 feet) on Sunday in Fargo, with more water was on the way. The river was expected to crest between 39 feet and 41 feet in the Fargo-Moorhead area by Friday, a day earlier and a foot higher than projected.
According to a Sunday statement from the Diocese of Fargo, Bishop Aquila sought prayers for those affected, saying “Please remember to pray for their protection, for the protection of our families, our communities and also asking the Lord to give us strength during this time of trial.”
He also encouraged young people to assist others during the flood threat, which must be countered in Fargo by filling of nearly 1.9 million sandbags.
“We need your strength and your work,” he said, “so please volunteer and go out and help where you can.”
Assuring parishioners that God is “with us in all of this,” he also assured them of his own prayers.
“My prayers are with all of the families and our communities that will be impacted as we beg God’s protection upon our communities, asking the Lord to give us strength and patience in all that we face. We know that in every adversity, if we turn to our God, no matter how strong the adversity may be, he will sustain us. And so let us approach it with that confidence and trust in him and knowing that he is with us in all of this.”
In a formal statement issued by e-mail to all Catholic parishes, religious communities and diocesan and Catholic Charities North Dakota personnel this morning, Bishop Aquila repeated his call for prayers.
“I ask especially those in the diocese who live outside of the affected areas to increase your prayer, praying that those in the center of the flood fight will be protected and may experience the peace only God’s love can give,” he said.
“I am grateful for our young people -- youth group members and high school and college students -- who are embracing this opportunity to help with sandbagging those communities and homes which are threatened; the parishes and diocesan entities like Catholic Charities North Dakota who are establishing ways to meet the unique needs of people now and after this threat subsides.”
He then thanked those who are doing “small things” like providing food or offering childcare.
He also noted that the Fargo Catholic Schools Network has set up a Flood Fight Update e-mail system which regularly puts out calls for sandbagging assistance.
“For all who are suffering due to the potential flood, I pray for God’s protection and blessing over you and for the calming strength of His grace,” Bishop Aquila’s e-mail concluded. “As in any adversity, with faith, hope and charity, God will grant us the particular graces we need in this trial and we will grow in our love for God and each other.”