U.S. Catholic dioceses mobilizing to help Haitian earthquake victims

.- In reaction to the recent catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, is asking all dioceses to take up a collection this coming weekend. Other initiatives taking place include prayer services and Masses.

In a Jan. 13 letter to all U.S. bishops, Cardinal George and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, chairman of Catholic Relief Services, call on each diocese to take up a special collection the weekend of January 16-17 for the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. bishops and Catholic Relief Service (CRS) in Haiti.

The two prelates also note that there is an upcoming collection for the Church in Latin America on Jan. 23-24 that will assist with the pastoral needs of the Church in Haiti. “We urge that you use both of these opportunities to express our solidarity and our loving support for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and ask you not to substitute one collection for the other,” they write.

Dioceses around the country are already offering an outpouring of support for the beleaguered people of Haiti.

“At this time of destruction and loss of life in the country of Haiti, I urge all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to pray for those who have died and are suffering as a result of the devastating earthquake in the capital city of Port-au-Prince,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali on Wednesday, who is holding a Mass on Jan. 15 and a special collection over the weekend throughout his 269 parishes in the five county Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is currently in Rome, met with the Haitian Ambassador to the Vatican and assured him that his archdiocese would provide whatever financial assistance possible.

In addition to having the Archdiocese of New York take up a special collection over the weekend, Archbishop Dolan urged his faithful to pray for the intercession of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who was born in Haiti in 1766 and was brought to New York as a slave.  Archbishop Dolan also said that he echoed the words of Pope Benedict on the tragedy, saying “I invite everyone to join my prayers to the Lord for the victims of this catastrophe and for those who morn their loss.”

The Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina has also announced their relief efforts, with Bishop Robert Guglielmone saying this morning that “Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to them in their time of suffering. I encourage you to take up a special collection for the people and Church of Haiti.”

The Charleston Diocese includes 116 parishes and missions across the state.

A special Mass also took place at the Notre Dame d' Haiti Mission in Archdiocese of Miami on Wednesday night, and the parishioners of the archdiocese are being asked to make donations to the local Catholic Charities.

All 140 parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington have taken up a collection as well, and they along with many others dioceses, are sending the funds to Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

“This is an unimaginable tragedy in a country that already experienced tremendous poverty and hardship,” said Cardinal Rigali on Wednesday.

“I also extend my prayers and condolences to the family and faithful of the Most Reverend Joseph Serge Miot, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, who lost his life in the earthquake. I pray too for the hundreds of priests, seminarians and religious who are reported to have died. My sympathy and heartfelt compassion are also with the Haitian community here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they mourn and wait for the word of loved ones in Haiti.”
To visit Catholic Relief Services, go to: http://crs.org/

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