Catholic Charities organizes relief collection

St. Ignatius Church's steeple in White Mills, Ky., was damaged by hail in the March 2 storms that destroyed parts of Southern Indiana.

In the wake of last week’s devastating tornadoes, the Archdiocese of Louisville has announced that Catholic Charities will be coordinating local response and relief efforts.

Archdiocese Vice Chancellor Norma Merrick, in a memorandum to pastors and parish administrators, said officials at the chancery have been in touch with “the dioceses of Lexington and Covington, where several parishes had significant damage and at least one church in each diocese was totally destroyed. The loss of family members and property has had a significant impact on many parishioners. Likewise, there are similar stories and experiences in southern Indiana.”

Parishes are encouraged to hold a special collection for relief efforts, the memorandum said. “Any funds collected should be forwarded to Catholic Charities and include a notation on any checks for tornado relief. Catholic Charities will direct the funds to our neighboring dioceses to assist in relief and rebuilding efforts.”

Brad Harruf of Catholic Mutual, the insurance carrier for the Archdiocese of Louisville, said the tornado outbreak damaged three churches in the archdiocese.

St. Ignatius Church in White Mills, Ky., had major hail damage on all of its parish buildings, including the church above.

Hail damage was reported at St. Ignatius Church in White Mills, Ky., and St. Francis Xavier Church in Mt. Washington, Ky. St. Helen Church in Glasgow, Ky., reported wind damage.

Damage at St. Francis Xavier and St. Helen was considered minor. But St. Ignatius experienced major damage, said Harruf. Hail broke three windows, battered holes in the west-facing siding on all the parish buildings and damaged the steeple.

Hand in Hand Ministries of Louisville, which works to provide economic and other assistance to the poor of Appalachia, issued a call for help earlier this week in the wake of the tornadoes in Eastern Kentucky.

“Hand in Hand Ministries needs help with immediate tornado relief in Salyersville and Magoffin County, areas where we have worked since 2005,” a news release said. “St. Luke’s Church was destroyed by a tornado that also destroyed or damaged more than 100 homes in the area (Magoffin County.)”

According to officials at Hand in Hand, St. Luke’s Open Door food bank and clothes closet was the only one of its kind serving Magoffin County, which before the storm had a 23 percent unemployment rate. While the pastor of St. Luke Church, Father Bob Damron, has already announced plans to rebuild the church, he noted that the rebuilding will take a long time, and Hand in Hand is helping in that effort.

Hand in Hand is asking for donations of bottled water, non-perishable foods, canned goods and cleaning supplies. Hand in Hand can be reached at 459-9930 or on the Web at Contributions can be sent to Catholic Charities, attention Tornado Relief, 2911 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky., 40208.

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