Knights of Columbus provide oxygen to Amazon region amid coronavirus

Bp_Cefai_unloading_1.jpg Bishop Giovanni Cefai helps unload oxygen concentrators donated by the Knights of Columbus in Huancané, Peru. Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights of Columbus have sent more than $200,000 of oxygen and related supplies to the Amazon regions of Brazil and Peru, following pleas from bishop whose people face crowded hospitals amid a coronavirus surge.

Archbishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Manaus had said in a Jan. 16 video, "We, bishops of Amazonas and Roraima, make an appeal: For the love of God, send us oxygen."

He said that during the first wave of the coronavirus, those infected faced a lack of information and hospital beds, but that patients were now dying because of a lack of oxygen tanks.

"Let us all make our contribution and engage with solidarity in caring for the life of one another," Archbishop Steiner added.

Patients in Brazil's Amazonas state were being airlifted to hospitals in other states, and the families of some of the infected have stood on line for hours trying to buy their own oxygen tanks.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus soon responded to Archbishop Steiner's plea.

Anderson commented, "In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Amazon region, we could not fail to act. The Knights of Columbus, in this instance, had both the resources and the appropriate connections to respond rapidly to this critical need."

In addition to the Manaus area, the Knights of Columbus are also delivering oxygen concentrators and tanks to the Territorial Prelature of Santiago Apóstol de Huancané.

Bishop Giovanni Cefai, Prelate of Santiago Apóstol de Huancané, responded saying that "even if we save just one life it is worth it. Imagine that we will be saving hundreds of lives."

Anderson noted that Knights of Columbus councils have aided their own communities, and that "now this help, on behalf of a remote and largely Indigenous people, speaks to the reality that, within the Body of Christ, 'our neighbor' stretches far beyond the borders of our own local communities."

The Knights of Columbus has over 2 million members in 16,000 councils worldwide. The order was founded in 1882 by a Connecticut parish priest, Blessed Michael McGivney. It is dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. In 2020 members of the Knights performed over 77 million reported service hours and gave over $187 million for charitable causes.

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