Catholic Charities accepting donations for hurricane, wildfire collection

A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is seen outside of St. Pius X Church in Ragley, La., Sept. 1, 2020, with signs of damage from Hurricane Laura. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, requested Sept. 3 that bishops across the country consider taking up a voluntary special collection for the humanitarian, long-term recovery and church needs arising from the increasing number of natural disasters in the United States. (CNS photo/courtesy Father Jeffrey Starkovich, St. Pius X Church)

Catholic Charities of Louisville is accepting donations to provide relief for those affected by Hurricane Laura, the California wildfires and future natural disasters.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has asked dioceses throughout the country to take up a special emergency collection to support the humanitarian needs of dioceses and parishes impacted by disasters, such as the Aug. 27 hurricane that devastated parts of Louisiana and the wildfires that continue to grow.

“The traditional storm season has only just begun and already we have witnessed the devastating impact of Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires,” Archbishop Gomez wrote in a letter to his fellow bishops. “Thousands of homes, businesses, and churches have been severely damaged or destroyed and the impacts will be long-lasting.”

Hurricane Laura destroyed six churches in the Diocese of Lake Charles, left a dozen others “highly compromised” and did heavy damage to chancery offices, according to an Aug. 31 story from Catholic News Service.

The diocese, in a report posted on its website, said that only one of six Catholic schools reopened Aug. 31, while the others needed at least some repairs before classes could resume.

The storm, which slammed southern Louisiana with winds of up to 150 mph in the early hours of Aug. 27, also left a diocesan rectory housing 20 priests, a third of them in active ministry, uninhabitable.

Evacuation orders have affected more than 250,000 Californians, including many Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the dioceses of San Jose, Sacramento and Monterey, according to an Aug. 24 CNS story. All except Monterey are on a list of cities trending at the national level for fast-rising COVID-19 rates.

More than a million acres in the area burned in the span of a week, The Associated Press reported, causing 7 deaths as of Aug. 24. The blazes, which began Aug. 14, are believed to have been caused by lightning strikes and made worse by drought conditions.

Funds collected in this appeal will become part of the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund and will be used to support the work of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, the official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church.

Donations will be used for immediate emergency needs for necessities, such as water, food, shelter and medical care, and will also aid in long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts, as well as the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church, according to an announcement from the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Proceeds should be forwarded to: Catholic Charities of Louisville, ATTN: 2020 Disaster Relief, 2911 S. Fourth Street, Louisville, Ky., 40208-1303. Checks should include a notation: 2020 Disaster Relief and should be made payable to Catholic Charities of Louisville.

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