In the days following the late August landfall of Hurricane Harvey, efforts to help residents along the Gulf Coast of Texas deal with the historic storm’s impact began to come together across the country.
In the Diocese of Trenton, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., called upon the faithful to remember their own plight nearly five years earlier from Superstorm Sandy and to support a special collection to be held in all parishes over Labor Day weekend.
In a statement issued Aug. 28, Bishop O’Connell wrote, “We who live in New Jersey are no strangers to the wrath of nature. The devastation of Hurricane Sandy lingers in our memories, the effects of which are still visible in places along our coastline. Dioceses throughout the United States responded so generously to us in the Diocese of Trenton in our time of need, contributing almost $700,000 to our diocesan relief efforts through the outreach of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Now, as Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc and destruction in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, I am asking the parishes in the Diocese of Trenton to respond with a similar generosity by making a contribution to the Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund.”
All collected funds, the Bishop explained, were to be sent directly to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for disbursement among the dioceses affected by the storm.
The response to Bishop O’Connell’s request was overwhelmingly positive. More than $800,000 was collected in the parishes either during the initial weekend or soon after, prompting a statement of thanks from the Bishop. (See report below.) He stated, “On behalf of the victims of the recent hurricanes, I would like to express sentiments of profound gratitude for the amazing generosity shown by so many parishes of the Diocese of Trenton.”
Underscoring the Bishop’s appreciation was a personal note from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, thanking Bishop O’Connell and the Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton for their generosity.
Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey was only the first in the series of catastrophic storms that struck parts of the United States this fall. In response to the needs that emerged following the two subsequent hurricanes – Irma and Maria – Bishop O’Connell encouraged those who wished to donate to the Church-run relief efforts to give directly to Catholic Charities USA. (To learn how to help in hurricane relief go to TrentonMonitor.com and click on NEWS>2017 Hurricane Season.)
Catholic Charities USA is one of several Catholic agencies being credited for its consistent and effective activities in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. According to a report from Catholic News Service, “a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Catholic organizations, groups and individuals were still among the most prominent responders to the needs of a suffering people.
Despite early logistical obstacles, as of Oct. 20, the local Caritas chapter had disbursed more than $1.1 million in aid to an estimated 50,000 people – including food, clothing, first aid supplies, potable water and sundries.
In addition to donations being sent to Catholic Charities USA, Catholic communities in the Diocese of Trenton have also taken part in many different outreach efforts on behalf of those impacted in Puerto Rico.