.- On Thursday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a special call for Catholic faithful to help the poorest dioceses in the path of Hurricane Katrina--especially those in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, WA, and president of the USCCB said that “All the bishops of the United States are concerned for the number of church personnel who are isolated, working under great adversity, and perhaps not even aware that the whole rest of the country is praying for them…We don’t even know if all of them are safe.”
The USCCB reported that Bishop Thomas J. Rodi of Biloxi, Mississippi was able to reach their Alexandria, VA offices by cell phone to say that some 20 percent of the diocese’s parishes are wiped out and a third of his schools have been destroyed.
Likewise, he said that every rectory, convent, school, and diocesan building sustained at least moderate if not severe damage in the storm.
“Most of the dioceses” in the effected area Bishop Skylstad pointed out, “are Home Mission dioceses, which struggle to survive under the best of conditions…They are the least able to cope with this adversity.”
Home Mission dioceses rely on the support of other dioceses to operate basic parish life. Most of the time, they are in areas which are too poor, or sparsely populated to be run on local donations.
The USCCB, in conjunction with Catholic Charities USA is currently staging what is said to be one of the largest aid efforts ever to help rescue the crippled U.S. Gulf coast.
Those wishing to help can go to www.catholiccharitiesusa.org for more information.