US bishops urge patience in Haiti reconstruction efforts

.- Several U.S. bishops gave an update on Church relief efforts in Haiti during their annual fall gathering in Baltimore. They urged patience for the recovery effort which one archbishop called “tragically slow.”

Bishop Kevin Farrell, chairman of the bishops' collection committee opened the report on the Church's work in Haiti at the annual Nov. 15-18 fall assembly in Baltimore, Maryland.

He recalled how immediately after the country was ravaged by a catastrophic earthquake in early 2010, a special collection for Catholic Relief Services across the U.S. was started up by USCCB president Cardinal Francis George and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

“I can report that according to our most recent numbers,” Bishop Farrell said, $82.6 million “was collected from 176 dioceses.” Bishop Farrell urged those in attendance to pause and reflect on the “dedication” and “devotion” of American Catholics who gave to the fund, often in local parishes after Sunday Mass.

Archbishop Thomas J. Wenski of Miami, Fla., who heads the bishops' advisory committee on Haiti, reported to the bishops on a recent initiative called “PROCHE” –  a French and Creole acronym which stands for “Catholic closeness with Haiti and her Church.”

The project, approved by the Haitian bishops, is designed to bring together Church personnel, donors, engineers and others to support building reconstruction across the various dioceses.

In addition to practical help, Archbishop Wenski noted the “ecclesial” assistance being given to Catholics in Haiti, such as sturdy tents for seminarians, vocational workshops, prayer books and pastoral training.

Archbishop Wenski then appealed to the bishops to continue bringing attention to the country within their local parishes.

“By uniting our efforts, we can lean on one another through the difficult times ahead, keeping up momentum to show the Haitians that they will not be forgotten.”

Archbishop Dolan also provided an update, praising the efforts of Catholic Reliefs Services, which he helps lead.

“In addition to food provided to nearly 900,000 people in the early months of the response, we continue to provide monthly food rations to more than 100,000 children in over 370 schools, orphanages and child-care centers, many of them run by Catholic parishes and congregations,” he said.

“Our relief efforts have been heroic,” he added, “but the rebuilding has been tragically slow.”

Looking to the upcoming one year anniversary of the earthquake, Archbishop Dolan asked the bishops for their help in “engaging the U.S. Catholic community in ongoing efforts to support the people of Haiti and the Haitian Church, strengthening our common understanding of true solidarity and partnership.”

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