Take a moment and visit a couple of rooms in your house. Don’t bother with some kind of formal inventory, just look around you and the things your family has accumulated over the years.
Of course there will be pictures — most families have bookshelves and walls loaded with scores of pictures. Your children when they were young; your parents when they were old. Moments in time captured for eternity, you’ve always thought.
In another room there’s the guitar you always thought you’d learn to master, but all those Antonio Carlos Jobim tunes continue to lie unclaimed in the ether, still strangers to the frets and strings on that instrument you’ve valued over the years. Yet you’d miss it if you looked one day and it wasn’t there.
There’s the piano that’s been in the family for generations; the corner cabinet with its own familial history. There’s everything that symbolizes your life and the lives your family have lived together.
Now imagine it all gone; destroyed by a whim of nature. One day it’s all there and all is right with the world; the next day a capricious storm has taken it all away or ruined it beyond recovery.
Granted the people in Houston and the surrounding towns who’ve faced the diluvian disaster called Harvey are thankful to have escaped with their lives. About 40 of their fellow flooding victims weren’t so lucky.
But now those survivors, including tens of thousands who fortunately found their way to shelters with the help of volunteers and National Guardsmen and women, face a future as soaked with uncertainty as the walls of their homes.
How do they begin again once the water is gone? Will their lives ever be the same — will Houston and the other cities victimized by the storm ever completely recover?
Right now no one can answer those questions. Despite the resolute determination of local leaders in Texas and Louisiana, no one can be certain exactly what the future holds.
But we can be sure of this much — those people, those places, desperately need our help.
As usual, Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Society have sprung into action. One of the great strengths of the Catholic Church is its willingness to reach out to those in need. It is a trait in which we can all take pride.
And so the requests for our help have begun arriving in our inboxes and emails and in messages delivered in Saturday and Sunday homilies.
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, is from the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, so his familiarity with the disaster-affected area is profound. On August 29, he issued a call for bishops to consider a special collection to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Cardinal DiNardo asked the USCCB vice-president, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles to coordinate the fund-raising effort and Archbishop Gomez, in turn, asked that the special collection be held during the weekend of Sept. 2-3 or Sept. 9-10.
In addition to the collection, the archbishop asked bishops across the nation to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to the affected dioceses, according to a statement released by the bishops’ conference on Aug. 28.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses along with their sense of peace and normalcy,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We also stand with our brother bishops in the region who have the difficult task of providing pastoral care in these most trying times while managing their own losses. Our prayerful and financial support is urgently needed.”
The statement from the USCCB said funds given to the special collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to the impacted dioceses through the bishops’ conference.
Cardinal DiNardo noted that “this crisis hits very close to home.”
“In solidarity with my brother bishops … I call on people of faith to pray for all those who have been impacted by this hurricane, and I ask people of good will to stand with the victims and their families. May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion, protect all who are still in danger and bring safety to those who are missing.”
In a statement from the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with all the hurricane’s victims and said he trusts that the “immense and immediate needs of so many individuals and communities will continue to inspire a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation.”
It’s obvious to say, but helping financially and spiritually, is something we all can, and should, do.
Record Editor Emeritus