.- A collection initiated in January by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to help victims of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti has raised nearly $59 million dollars to date.
Since Cardinal Francis George and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York made an appeal for donations the day after the natural disaster, the USCCB has collected $58.7 million in aid from American Catholics.
“I cannot even begin to say how thankful we are to all the people who have so selflessly given to help the people in Haiti,” said Archbishop Dolan, who is chairman of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “It is an amazing example of love and faith in action.”
“CRS, with over 300 staff on the ground in Haiti, started helping people immediately,”Archbishop Dolan related. “They have been providing food, temporary shelter, hygiene kits, water and sanitation services around the clock for tens of thousands at parishes, makeshift camps, and other sites throughout the Port-au-Prince. In the long run, CRS will be there with the Haitian people to help them rebuild.”
CRS has also received funds outside the special appeal collection from corporations, schools and individuals and foundations. “Together with a portion of the proceeds from the special collection, these additional funds will allow CRS to help save many lives and bring back hope,” the New York archbishop added.
Archbishop Jose Gomez, who serves as the chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, also commented on the Church's longstanding support for Catholics in Haiti.
“A key goal is to help the Haitian Church get back on its feet,” Archbishop Gomez said on Thursday. “Life in Haiti revolves around the parish communities. Reconstituting parishes is vital to bringing back some sense of normalcy to people’s lives.”
“We are starting with temporary rectories but foresee chapels, schools and community centers to follow,” he added. “Fortunately, CRS, with its expertise and large presence in Haiti, can be a source of valuable assistance and advice to the local Church in her work to rebuild.”