Colorado Catholics reach out to hurricane victims
Archdiocese takes up second collection to help
By Nissa LaPoint
Across the country, the Catholic Church is responding to the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which caused more than 5 million homes to go without power at its height and others to go without food and gasoline.
With the subsequent nor’easter that dumped inches of snow on areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the Denver Archdiocese and Catholic Charities was prompted to send aid.
“Over the last several days we have seen the destruction that has affected the Eastern Seaboard because of Hurricane Sandy,” wrote Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy, in a Nov. 2 letter to priests. “So, in union with bishops throughout the country, the archbishop is asking us to collaborate with Catholic Charities USA in asking for donations to assist those affected by the storm.”
Jonathan Reyes, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Denver Archdiocese, said a million dollars has been raised across the nation to help with relief efforts and staff are coordinating efforts, handling case management and training volunteers to directly aid those affected.
“Catholic Charities’ network has something like 172 shelters with 11,000 people in them and that keeps growing,” he said. “(Catholic Charities USA) is actually an expert at this—it’s one of the things they do superbly and they’re in the middle of it cooperating with other agencies.”
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila asked parishes to take up a second collection last weekend at Masses across the archdiocese that will be forwarded to Catholic Charities USA. The humanitarian organization, in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services, will use current and future donations to assist those in need.
“It is a great comfort to know that Catholic Charities has been working tirelessly throughout the storm-related areas to bring relief and assistance to those left without shelter or in need of aid,” said U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Archbishop Joseph Kurtz in a statement. “Its resources, however, are being spread thin, and it is in need of our support.”
The resources will also go to Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and other counties in the Caribbean hit by the storm.
Some in the community have family and friends on the East Coast who were affected by the storm, but are otherwise safe.
“The good news is that they’re fine,” said Father Michael Bodzioch, parochial vicar of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, of his sister and sister-in-law, Lorraine and Jane Bodzioch. “I was worried but not overly because they live inland. It was not likely to flood where they are.”
Hurricane Sandy Relief
The faithful may mail donations for relief to those affected by the storm.
Donations should be made payable to “Archdiocese of Denver,” and should indicate in the memo line, “Hurricane Sandy.”
Mail to: Archdiocese of Denver, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver, CO 80210
His sister and sister-in-law live in Linden, N.J., and his sister’s power was knocked-out by the storm. Nearby family with electricity quickly helped her by storing her perishable food in the refrigerator and freezer.
After their town was hit with piles of snow by a nor’easter days later, they faced long lines at the gas station and a shortage of food like milk and bread at the grocery store, he said.
“They received about 7 inches of snow,” Father Bodzioch said. “This is an early snow for them. They had damage.”
After talking to family on the phone, he learned two of his nieces woke up at 3:30 a.m. to stand in a four-hour line at the gas station.
Their situation, he said, is improving and gas lines are not as long.
As the East Coast recovers from the devastation of the hurricane, Archbishop Kurtz asked the faithful to join him in prayer.
“Please join me with your prayers for those who are suffering as a result of these tragic circumstances and for all who seek to be in solidarity with them,” he wrote.