Feb 23, 2014

Local parishioners raise more than $80,000 for typhoon aid



(CNS photos/Tyler Orsburn)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – In a diocesan collection taken up late last year, parishioners throughout the Springfield Diocese donated more than $80,000 to help victims of the Nov. 8, 2013 typhoon that struck the Philippines, killing thousands of people and leaving many more injured, homeless and without livelihoods.

The Springfield Diocese’s accounting department reported on Feb. 20 that a total of $78,041, 90 has been remitted to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and another $2,407 has been received recently and will be sent to CRS within the next two weeks.

“The generosity of people in the diocese is outstanding,” said Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell. “May God reward their goodness.”

Among recent visitors to the ravaged regions of the Philippines was Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who traveled with a group of U.S. Catholic Church officials to see the recovery efforts in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. The Feb. 4-6 trip was organized and sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency.

In an op-ed published by Catholic News Service on Feb. 12, Archbishop Kurtz described the devastation of the affected regions and also the hope and faith of the Filipino people.

“What I learned was that, even as they rebuild their homes and struggle for their families livelihoods, the Filipino people have real faith and radiate what Pope Francis calls the joy of the Gospel,” Archbishop Kurtz wrote.

He also noted, “People in the United States and around the world who have given to typhoon relief efforts don’t get to see the good that their generosity promotes. It was humbling to feel the gratitude of the Filipino people and to see the warmth and emotion in their faces as they greeted us.”

Archbishop Kurtz stated that CRS has helped repair or build 20,000 shelters and has brought clean water and sanitation services to thousands of displaced people. Livelihood recovery programs are helping farmers and others support their families.

“Catholics in the United States should know their generosity enables essential work of the Gospel, serving those in need without any thought of repayment,” he wrote.

In his op-ed, Archbishop Kurtz also wrote about “the essential role of the Catholic Church in the Philippines as a hub of community life.” He stated that many people sought shelter in churches following the storm and the churches played an important role in storing and distributing supplies.

Archbishop Kurtz also emphasized the solidarity of all the world’s Catholics in coming to the aid of a nation in need.

“As I visited communities, urban and rural, and spoke, listened and prayed with the Filipino people, the sense that we are one church overwhelmed me,” he wrote. The people of the Philippines are walking a difficult road, but the whole church walks it together, as we are present in our relief efforts, our friendship and our prayers.”

Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.