CRS now focusing on long-term reconstruction
Church in Latin America Subcommittee to help rebuild the Church in Haiti
WASHINGTON- A special Collection for Haiti in Catholic parishes nationwide has raised $58.7 million to date.
On January 13, one day after a devastating 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti's capital, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), appealed to Catholics across the country to help Haiti through parish collections.
"I cannot even begin to say how thankful we are to all the people who have so selflessly given to help the people in Haiti," Archbishop Dolan said. "It is an amazing example of love and faith in action."
In their appeal the bishops explained that "[f]unds will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services...as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care, as well as to the long-term need to rebuild after widespread destruction, and to meet the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in Haiti."
A majority of the funds collected will support CRS' continued humanitarian relief. Funds also will be used to rebuild and support the Church in Haiti.
"CRS, with over 300 staff on the ground in Haiti, started helping people immediately," said Archbishop Dolan. "They have been providing food, temporary shelter, hygiene kits, water and sanitation services around the clock for tens of thousands at parishes, makeshift camps, and other sites throughout the Port-au-Prince. In the long run, CRS will be there with the Haitian people to help them rebuild."
Outside the special collection, generous support of more than $60 million also has gone directly to CRS from individuals, groups, colleges, foundations and corporations.
"Together with a portion of the proceeds from the special collection, these additional funds will allow CRS to help save many lives and bring back hope," Archbishop Dolan said.
"A key goal is to help the Haitian Church get back on its feet," said Archbishop José H. Gomez, Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America.
Working closely with the Catholic Church in Haiti, the U.S. bishops will as help the Church to rebuild its structures and programs through the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. Funds already have been provided to re-establish the Catholic radio station in Port-au-Prince as a way to help Catholics stay connected. The bishops are now working to re-open churches and provide temporary housing for priests.
"Life in Haiti revolves around the parish communities," said Archbishop Gomez. "Reconstituting parishes is vital to bringing back some sense of normalcy to people's lives. We are starting with temporary rectories but foresee chapels, schools and community centers to follow."
The subcommittee, which has a long history of providing support for the Church in Haiti and throughout Latin America, is also providing temporary shelter for seminarians since the seminary was completely destroyed. A long-term project will be to rebuild it. "Fortunately, CRS, with its expertise and large presence in Haiti, can be a source of valuable assistance and advice to the local Church in her work to rebuild," Archbishop Gomez said.