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Church Responds to Earthquake in Haiti
Parishes in the Diocese of Gaylord will join with those across the United States this weekend to take up a special collection to aid the relief efforts following the massive earthquake which struck Haiti on January 12. In a letter to the Catholic faithful in northern Lower Michigan, Bishop Bernard Hebda said, Trusting that the Lord always blesses those who give cheerfully from their want and not just from their excess, I invite you to be particularly generous as we engage in this expression of solidarity. Let us remember to pray as well for all those who lost their lives as a result of the earthquake and for those survivors and relief workers who, with the hands and heart of Christ, will be courageously rebuilding Haiti in the days and months and years ahead. All donations received will be forwarded to Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. CRS has been working in Haiti for more than 50 years and was able to begin responding immediately following the earthquake thanks to emergency supplies that had been pre-positioned by CRS in Haiti, neighboring communities as well as in the Dominican Republic and Florida, for disaster relief. We are fortunate to have had water in our warehouse [in Port-Au-Prince], said Karel Zelenka, Country Representative for CRS Haiti in an update. We also trucked in family food kits from Les Cayes. CRS has a staff of 313 on the ground, with more personnel arriving daily. The agency reported its Haiti headquarters building was damaged but did not collapse. Until its structural integrity is assured, aid workers are working and sleeping outside in tents or cars. Additional food is scheduled to arrive soon. Fifteen hundred metric tons of wheat and oil will arrive in port shortly, said Schuyler Thorup, Regional Director for CRS Latin America. We will distribute it immediately. Today CRS increased its original $5 million funding commitment and is planning an emergency response to assist earthquake survivors with an expectation of raising $25 million from its generous supporters. To date, CRS has already received more than $6 million in cash and commitments, including a $1-million disaster response donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a $225,000 gift from the New York Yankees baseball team. Individuals who would like to donate to the relief efforts may do so through the Diocese of Gaylord by clicking on the Make a Gift link on the left and noting that the donation is for Haiti Earthquake Relief. Those gifts will also be forwarded to Catholic Relief Services. Those who would like to donate directly to CRS may do so: By phone at: 1-877-435-7277 (1-877-HELP-CRS) Online at: CRS.org. Or by mailing a donation to: Catholic Relief Services P.O. Box 17090 Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090 Memo portion of check: Haiti Earthquake Donations of Clothing and Food: At such times, people are eager to help in any way they can and often ask the diocese where they might send clothing, food, and other particular supplies for use in the area. Relief agencies consistently indicate that the most efficient and effective immediate aid is cash donations which enable them to purchase specific needed supplies and transport those items to the country as quickly as possible. Volunteers: The diocese is also asked about opportunities for volunteering in the area. In an online discussion this week, Bill Canny, CRS Director of Emergency Operations, said at the immediate time it is best if experienced personnel respond. He also noted that interested volunteers might contact Hands-On Disaster Response. Prayer: As Catholics, we are part of a Universal Church guided by the example of Jesus Christ and called by our faith to respond to all those in need. At this time, we pray in a special way for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, along with their loved ones, as well as for those who are working tirelessly to minister to their needs. Prayer God of all creation, as we weep with our family in Haiti, console us. In this time of crisis, open our eyes to look beyond the disaster to see Christ in our brothers and sisters in Haiti, as Christ sees us. Be with us as we stand in solidarity with those living and working in Haiti. Be with us in our mourning and guide our efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving and stand for justice. With your mercy, sustain us at this time as we continue to work for peace and justice. Amen. For our Brothers and Sisters in Haiti Affected by the Earthquake Lord, hear our prayer. For the Haitian people, that help comes to them quickly and comfort comes to those who hurt. Lord, hear our prayer. For the lost or buried, that they are found and reunited with their loved ones. Lord, hear our prayers. For the relief workers, that they have the tools they need, the courage and the strength to respond fully. Lord, hear our prayers. For the families in Haiti and in the United States who are waiting to hear from loved one, that good news comes to them. Lord, hear our prayers. For those whose who have perished, may their souls rest with you, oh Lord, where they will find eternal love. Amen. A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti Lord, at times such as this, when we realize that the ground beneath our feet is not as solid as we had imagined, we plead for your mercy. As the things we have built crumble about us, we know too well how small we truly are on this ever-changing, ever-moving, fragile planet we call home. Yet you have promised never to forget us. Do not forget us now. Today, so many people are afraid. They wait in fear of the next tremor. They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble. They roam the streets in shock at what they see. And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief and the names of missing dead. Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster. Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still, and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist. Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day. Console the hearts of those who mourn, and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death. Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion, we who watch from afar, as the poorest on this side of the earth find only misery upon misery. Move us to act swiftly this day, to give generously every day, to work for justice always, and to pray unceasingly for those without hope. And once the shaking has ceased, the images of destruction have stopped filling the news, and our thoughts return to lifes daily rumblings, let us not forget that we are all your children and they, our brothers and sisters. We are all the work of your hands. For though the mountains leave their place and the hills be tossed to the ground, your love shall never leave us, and your promise of peace will never be shaken. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. Amen. Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal Director of the Office of Worship in the Diocese of San Jose, California. A version of this prayer in English and in Spanish may be downloaded here.