Even before the rains started, local members of Houston's Catholic Charities were in place and getting ready for the storm. Catholic Charities USA ('Caritas') is one of the most important ways by which the Roman Catholic Church in the USA helps people in need. Because Catholic Charities is organized by local diocesan groups, Catholic parishioners in Texas and Louisiana are the ones responding, on the ground, right where they are, right now.
The quickest way to get help to the victims of the storm is to donate to the Catholic Charities USA special collection. At both St. Anthony's in Angola and St. Paul's Chapel in Clear Lake, we will take up a special collection at all Masses this weekend (Sept. 2-3, 2017) to support these efforts. Because local parishioners handle the donations and send them to the local parishes in Louisiana and Texas, there are absolutely no administrative costs - every penny you donate is used for disaster relief. You can also give right now by clicking here.
It is also important to PRAY for the victims of the storms. Archbishop Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said on Saturday, "Please join me and pray for all of those affected by the storm and in need of assistance during this natural disaster. In addition, I ask the faithful to also keep the emergency response personnel and volunteers in your prayers. For those residing in our Archdiocese, in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, be safe and may God have mercy on those affected by Hurricane Harvey." (full statement)
Finally, we must resist any urge to rush down to Texas to "lend a hand". Or any urge to gather food or water or clothing or toys and ship them. Such actions do more harm than good. The Reverend Dan Layden of the Fort Wayne Associated Churches Active in Disaster uses the phrase "pray, pay and stay away!" “Those people who descend on disaster sites without a coordinated plan ... always get in the way,” he says.
Monetary donations are more valuable than donations of goods which require transportation, warehousing, and distribution and, if they don't match local needs, may end up in landfills, according to Layden, who is rector of Fort Wayne's St. Alban's Episcopal Church. “We also urge that people not automatically respond to emails or Facebook postings asking for money – they're often scammers,” he adds.
Please note that the previously scheduled collection for the Franciscan students will be dropped. Since the seminarians of our Province are in San Antonio, Texas - also battling flood waters from Harvey - they are more than happy to forego tuition money inorder to help their city survive the storm! Thank you and God bless you all.
Friar Bob Showers