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Mexican bishop, Caritas staffer say situation serious, complicated after quake

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MEXICO CITY — A Catholic bishop and a Caritas worker in Mexico said the situation was extremely serious after the Sept. 19 earthquake, and much aid would be needed.

“The situation is complicated, because the first earthquake (Sept. 7) had already affected thousands of people in Chiapas and Oaxaca,” Alberto Arciniega, head of communications for Caritas Mexico, told Catholic News Service Sept. 20. “The church is continuing to assist those dioceses, but with what happened yesterday, the emergency situation is being re-evaluated to get a more exact assessment of the aid that is needed.”

People mourn Sept. 20 near caskets containing the bodies of victims who died after the roof of a church in Atzala, Mexico, collapsed in the Sept. 19 earthquake. (CNS photo/Imelda Medina, Reuters)

The Vatican announced Sept. 21 that, through the Dicastery for Promoting Human Development, Pope Francis is sending an initial $150,000 to aid Mexico. Money will be distributed by the nuncio to dioceses most affected.

Arciniega said all the dioceses in Mexico were collecting food, water and other necessities for victims of the quakes. He said they were seeking economic support from inside and outside the country.

“We know it is a serious situation, and international aid is being requested,” Arciniega told Catholic News Service.

“Rehabilitation and reconstruction will take time and will be expensive,” he added. “Thousands of people have been left homeless, and many churches have been damaged.”

The magnitude 7.1 quake that hit Sept. 19 was not as strong as the earlier magnitude 8.1 quake, but the second quake was centered in Puebla state, just southeast of Mexico City, as opposed to in the Pacific Ocean. Arciniega said Puebla and Morelos states and Mexico City were worst hit in the second quake, which killed more than 230 people.

In Morelos, just to the south of Mexico City, damage was widespread. Gov. Graco Ramirez put the death toll at 73.

President Enrique Pena Nieto has visited the municipality of Jujutla, where houses were reduced to rubble.

Oscar Cruz, spokesman for the Diocese of Cuernavaca, based in the Morelos state capital, said “the damage is worse … in many towns that are even poorer.”

At least 89 parishes in Morelos state suffered damage or were destroyed, according the National History and Anthropology Institute, which is responsible for Mexico’s older churches. The Cuernavaca cathedral, which dates to the 1500s and been undergoing restoration activities, also suffered damage and parts of it cannot be used, Cruz said.

Parish residences also were damaged, leaving priests homeless, Cruz said. A pair of priests were injured by falling debris; one was still hospitalized Sept. 21.

The diocese has started collecting goods for those left homeless.

“People have been extraordinary,” Cruz said. “This has been an extraordinary moment of solidarity. People are coming out and saying, ‘I want to help.’”

Bishop Ramon Castro of Cuernavaca has been touring the hardest-hit towns of Morelos. The bishop and the state governor had been at odds in recent years of social policies promoted by the governor and the bishop’s refusal to stop condemning violence and corruption in the state.

The pair have put aside their differences in the wake of such a disaster, Cruz said.

“There’s no working together” on the relief effort, “but we’re not getting in each other’s way,” Cruz said.

Mostly, priests and the bishop “have been trying to be close to the people,” he added.

Earlier, Arciniega shared audio of an interview with Bishop Castro, who noted that parishes in his diocese had been collecting items to send to victims of the Sept. 7 earthquake in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Now those items, if they were not destroyed in the Sept. 19 quake, will be used locally, the bishop said, adding, “but it will not be enough.”

Arciniega was in Oaxaca when he spoke Sept. 20. He said the Sept. 19 earthquake was felt there, but apparently did not cause damage.

“People (in the south) are worried that the assistance will stop because the cameras and newscasts are focusing on Mexico City. There is fear that the aid will stop and the emphasis will be on the center of the country,” he said.

He added that it was raining in Tehuantepec, an area of Oaxaca damaged in the first earthquake, which killed nearly 100 people.

“That makes the housing situation more complicated. Not only did people’s homes collapse, but now it’s raining, so people are in shelters, they need food. They are setting up community kitchens. We are continuing to evaluate how much the diocese can do to help itself and requesting aid from other dioceses and from outside the country.”

     

Contributing to this story were David Agren in Mexico City; Barbara Fraser in Lima, Peru; and Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

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Mexicans pitch in to help after earthquake

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Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — Mexican church leaders offered prayers and urged generosity after an earthquake struck the national capital and its environs, claiming more than 240 lives, including at least 20 children trapped in a collapsed school.

Rescue personnel remove rubble Sept. 20 at a collapsed building while searching for survivors after an earthquake hit Mexico City. The magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Sept. 19 to the southeast of the city, killing hundreds. (CNS photo/Claudia Daut, Reuters)

The U.S. bishops joined them in prayer, asking for the protection of “Our Lady of Guadalupe, comforter of the afflicted and mother most merciful.”

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake Sept. 19 added to the misery of Mexicans who suffered a magnitude 8.1 earthquake 12 days earlier. That quake left nearly 100 dead in the country’s southern states and left thousands more homeless.

“We join the pain and grief of the victims of the earthquake, which occurred today … in various parts of our country,” the Mexican bishops’ conference said in a Sept. 19 statement. “Today, more than ever, we invite the community of God to join in solidarity for our brothers who are suffering various calamities that have struck our country.”

Mexicans have responded to the earthquake with acts of solidarity. The telephone system was overwhelmed and traffic snarled as power outages affected traffic lights. In hard-hit neighborhoods, people poured in, armed with buckets and shovels to help clear rubble from collapsed buildings, where people were trapped. Others were quick to donate food and drink to those assisting.

“Once again we are witnesses to the people of Mexico’s solidarity,” the bishops’ statement said. “Thousands of hands have formed chains of life to rescue, feed or do their small part in the face of these emergencies.”

Caritas chapters across the country opened collection centers to help those harmed by the earthquake. In Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera asked all parishes in the impacted areas, along with priests religious and laity to “collaborate with the authorities in order to assist people that have been affected and show Christian solidarity,” said an article published in archdiocesan newspaper Desde la Fe.

Dioceses in Puebla and Morelos, south of the capital, reported widespread damage to churches. Caritas Mexico, the church’s aid organization, reported at least 42 people dead in Morelos and 13 deaths in Puebla, where a dozen churches also collapsed.

Damage was widespread in parts of Mexico City, where at least 27 buildings collapsed, said President Enrique Pena Nieto.

A private school collapsed in Mexico City, trapping students ranging from kindergarten to junior high school. The Associated Press reported at least 25 students and teachers died, with others remaining unaccounted for.

As often happens in disasters, authorities expected the death toll to rise, because people could have been trapped in buildings when they collapsed.

At his general audience Sept. 20, Pope Francis prayed for victims and rescue personnel, invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico.

“In this moment of suffering,” he said, “I want to express my closeness and prayers to the entire Mexican population.”

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City expressed his sympathy to the relatives of those who had lost loved ones in the earthquake. He urged parishes, religious and the lay faithful to work with government authorities to “aid people who have been affected and demonstrate Christian solidarity.”

The quake epicenter was in Puebla, southeast of Mexico City. Earthquakes usually affect Mexico City as much of it is built on a former lake bed and buildings sway in the soft soil, even though the epicenters are in distant states. That phenomenon allows an earthquake warning to sound, giving people approximately a minute to evacuate their buildings. The alarm did not sound Sept. 19, however.

“It totally frightened me,” said Pedro Anaya, a small-business owner.

He decided to help, joining the hundreds of people hauling away debris from a collapsed apartment building in the trendy Condesa neighborhood.

“I saw that my family was OK so I came to help,” he said.

     

Contributing to this story was Barbara Fraser in Lima, Peru.

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Pope prays for victims of Mexico quake

September 20th, 2017 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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VATICAN CITY — As search and rescue operations continued in central Mexico, where more than 200 people died after a strong earthquake Sept. 19, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims.

An injured woman is assisted in Mexico City Sept. 19 after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit to the southeast of the city, killing hundreds. (CNS photo/Carlos Jasso, Reuters) S

“May our mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe, with great tenderness be near the beloved Mexican nation,” the pope said in Spanish Sept. 20 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“Yesterday, a terrible earthquake struck Mexico, I see there are many Mexicans among you today, resulting in numerous victims and material damage,” the pope told the crowd in the square. The quake, measuring 7.1, caused extensive damage in Mexico City and in neighboring states.

“In this moment of suffering,” he said, “I want to express my closeness and prayers to the entire Mexican population.”

“Let us all raise our prayers together to God so that he may welcome into his bosom those who have lost their lives and comfort the wounded, their families and all those affected,” Pope Francis said. “We also ask prayers for all the relief and rescue personnel who are lending their help to all the people affected.”

     

 

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Wounds of past trials can strengthen the future, pope says

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Catholic News Service

ROME — While the wounds of past trials have healed, the scars that remain will serve as a reminder of strength and courage for future generations, Pope Francis told survivors of an earthquake.

Visiting Carpi and Mirandola April 2, nearly five years after a 5.8-quake rocked the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, the pope said his visit was a sign of “closeness and encouragement” as the people continue to rebuild their homes and their lives.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass in Carpi, Italy, April 2. (CNS photo/Alessandro Garofalo, Reuters)

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass in Carpi, Italy, April 2. (CNS photo/Alessandro Garofalo, Reuters)

“Looking at these scars, you will have the strength to grow and to make your children grow in that dignity, in that strength, in that spirit of hope, in that courage that you had in the moment you received those wounds,” he said.

The pope spoke to the survivors, who were gathered in the small square outside the Mirandola cathedral, which is still covered in scaffolding and where broken stones are still piled on the ground.

Before addressing the people, he laid a bouquet of yellow and white flowers on the cathedral’s main altar, closing his eyes in prayer then lifting his hand in blessing.

Pope Francis told the people of Mirandola that he wanted to remember the victims, their families and all those “who continue to live in precarious situations.”

“May the Lord let each one of you feel his support,” the pope said. “I wanted to leave on the altar of the cathedral a bouquet of flowers in memory of those who died in the earthquake.”

The pope’s visit to the region began earlier in the day when he arrived by helicopter in the neighboring town of Carpi, which also was devastated by the 2012 earthquake.

Thousands of people, many who had been gathered since dawn, packed the central square as the pope, riding in his popemobile, waved to the excited well-wishers.

Celebrating Mass in the square, the pope said the Sunday Gospel story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was a reminder of the “God of life, who conquers death.”

The pope noted that even Jesus, who prays and weeps at the tomb, shares in the sufferings of those who mourn when “everything seems finished.”

“This is the heart of God: far from evil, yet close to those who suffer. He doesn’t make evil magically disappear but shares in the suffering, he makes it his own and transforms it.”

However, the pope continued, Jesus does not let himself be led by the sadness of his friend’s death nor allow himself to “be captured by the emotional, resigned environment surrounding him.” Instead, he prays with confidence to God.

“Thus, in the mystery of suffering, before which thought and progress crash like flies on a window, Jesus offers us the example of how to act,” he said. “He does not escape the suffering that pertains to this life, instead he doesn’t let himself be imprisoned by pessimism.”

The image of Jesus standing in front of the tomb, the pope said, represents a “great encounter-conflict” in that one side represents the despair brought on by human mortality and the other side represents the hope given by Christ who is victorious over death.

Christians, he added, are called to decide in their own lives which side they want to be on.

“You can be either on the side of the tomb or the side of Jesus. There are those who let themselves be closed in sadness and those who are open to hope. There are those who remain trapped under the wreckage of life and those, like you, who with the help of God raise the wreckage and build with patient hope,” the pope said.

Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis encouraged the people of Carpi to not fall into the temptation of remaining alone, disheartened and in mourning like those who gave up hope after Lazarus’ death.

“This is the atmosphere of the tomb,” the pope said. “The Lord wants to open the path of life, that of the encounter with him, of trusting in him, of the resurrection of the heart, the path of ‘Get up! Get up! Come forth!’ This is what the Lord asks of us and he is close to us so we can do it.”

 

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Priests celebrate Masses outdoors after massive earthquake in Italy

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Catholic News Service

ROME — Priests in central Italy were instructed to celebrate Mass outdoors following another devastating earthquake that rocked the region and brought one its most spiritually and historically significant churches tumbling down.

Earthquake victims rest in a shelter Oct. 30 in Caldarola, Italy. Thousands of people in central Italy have spent the night in cars, tents and temporary shelters following the fourth earthquake in the area in three months. (CNS photo/Cristiano Chiodi, EPA)

Earthquake victims rest in a shelter Oct. 30 in Caldarola, Italy. Thousands of people in central Italy have spent the night in cars, tents and temporary shelters following the fourth earthquake in the area in three months. (CNS photo/Cristiano Chiodi, EPA)

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve advised priests to not celebrate Mass indoors over the next several days, including Nov. 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, which is also a national holiday in Italy.

The 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Norcia in the early morning Oct. 30 and reduced the Basilica of St. Benedict to rubble.

At the noonday Angelus Oct. 30, Pope Francis prayed for the “the wounded and the families that have suffered major damage as well as for the personnel involved in rescue efforts and in aiding the victims.

“May the Risen Lord give them strength and Our Lady watch over them,” the pope said.

The Benedictine monks of Norcia assisted in relief efforts as well as helping to guide anxious residents to the town’s main square and lead them in prayer.

“After offering spiritual support to the people in town following this morning’s intense earthquake, the entire monastic community is together again at our mountain monastery which overlooks a now fractured Norcia,” the monks said in a message posted on their blog.

Following the destruction of the basilica built atop the birthplace of their founder, the Benedictine monks said they hoped the image of the destroyed church may “serve to illustrate the power of this earthquake and the urgency we monks feel to seek out those who need the Sacraments on this difficult day for Italy.”

While there were no deaths and some 20 reported injuries, it was the strongest quake in Italy since 1980 when a 6.9 earthquake struck the southern region of Campania.

The quake was felt along much of the Italian peninsula including 100 miles away in Rome, forcing city officials to close subways and several churches in order to assess any damage. Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi also ordered schools to be closed the following day while the safety of the buildings was checked.

Vatican firefighters assessed potential damage to the four major papal basilicas in Rome, which were later reported to be safe and open to the public.

 

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U.S. archbishop, pilgrims were celebrating Mass in Norcia when earthquakes struck

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Catholic News Service

ROME — U.S. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck.

“I had no sooner finished (the vesting) prayer to be protected from the assaults of Satan when bang: It just hit and it hit with a vengeance. It didn’t last very long, but it really shook the building we were in,” Archbishop Sample of Portland, Oregon, told Catholic News Service in Rome the next morning.

A collapsed church is seen Oct. 27 after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, Italy. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

A collapsed church is seen Oct. 27 after an earthquake in Borgo Sant’Antonio near Visso, Italy. Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore., was preparing to celebrate Mass Oct. 26 with Benedictine monks in Norcia when the first of two powerful earthquakes struck. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

No casualties were reported from the quakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an earthquake measuring 5.5 struck shortly after 7 p.m. local time and a 6.1 magnitude quake followed two hours later. Both were centered in Italy’s Marche region, not far from Norcia.

Archbishop Sample and other Portland pilgrims were visiting Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, during a trip to Italy for the fifth annual Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage, an international gathering for Catholics devoted to the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Speaking by telephone from Norcia, the archbishop said that despite feeling aftershocks during the Mass, he finished celebrating and was already in his hotel room when the second earthquake struck.

Although things seem to calm down, “there were a number of aftershocks” throughout the night, he said.

“I think about three times during the night, I was halfway out of bed to get to the door,” he said. “I confess, I’m a bit of a chicken and I slept in my clothes last night in case I had to run outside; I wanted to be properly attired. It was not the most restful night.”

While Archbishop Sample was with the Benedictine monks, he said another group from Portland, led by Father John Boyle, also had “a harrowing experience” during the earthquake while celebrating Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia.

“Father Boyle was just beginning the preparatory prayers for holy Communion when it hit and he took shelter underneath the altar and instructed the other pilgrims to take cover under the pews,” the archbishop said.

When the earthquake ended, Archbishop Sample said, the pilgrims went outside the church and Father Boyle brought them Communion.

The archbishop said that Father Boyle found it “very moving to see the people kneeling on the ground to receive holy Communion; it was beautiful.” After Mass, several monks helped retrieve the pilgrim’s personal items from the church before they returned to their hotel.

Pope Francis took to social media to express his solidarity with those affected, tweeting: “I am close in prayer to the people struck by the new earthquake in central Italy.”

The earthquakes, which came two months after a powerful quake devastated several towns in the region, left several churches with major damage.

Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, reported that one of the destroyed buildings was the 13th-century church of San Salvatore in Campi, just outside the center of Norcia.

The church “no longer exists,” Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia told Avvenire. “I’m trying to contact the pastor but communications are interrupted at this time.”

The rose window of Sant’ Eutizio Abbey, one of Italy’s oldest monasteries dating back to the 5th century, also collapsed following the first earthquake.

The 6.1 quake Oct. 26, the U.S. Geological Survey said, “is currently the largest aftershock” of the Aug. 24 quake that struck central Italy. The epicenter of the August earthquake was close to Norcia; with a magnitude of 6.2, it caused the deaths of close to 300 people.

 

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Pope leads 11,000 pilgrims praying rosary for Italy’s earthquake victims

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Hearing the mayor of Amatrice in central Italy say his town no longer exists and knowing there were children who died Aug. 24 in the earthquakes that struck the region, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience into a prayer service.

A man walks amid rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, Italy, Aug. 24. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

A man walks amid rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, Italy, Aug. 24. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

Beginning the audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he had prepared a normal audience talk on how the merciful Jesus is close to people, but given the devastation in central Italy, he decided to lead the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.

Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported the first quake, which registered a magnitude 6.0, struck at 3:36 a.m. with an epicenter about 100 miles northeast of Rome between the towns of Accumoli and Amatrice. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude was 6.2 and the epicenter was closer to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict.

Smaller quakes — at least two of which registered more than 5.0 — continued for several hours after the main quake. By early afternoon, the death toll had reached 38 but was expected to rise.

As emergency workers began digging people out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings and the number of verified deaths climbed, Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience.

“Hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and devastated entire areas, leaving many dead and wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and my closeness” to everyone in the earthquake zone, especially those who lost loved ones and “those who are still shaken by fear and terror,” the pope said.

“Having heard the mayor of Amatrice say, ‘The town no longer exists,’ and knowing that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened,” Pope Francis said.

The pope thanked all the volunteers and emergency workers who were trying to rescue victims people trapped under the rubble.

Assuring the people in the region of the prayers and “the embrace of the whole church,” the pope asked the estimated 11,000 pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square to join him in praying that “the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by human suffering, would console the brokenhearted and give them peace.”

At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of its prayer life and brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service. Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew and “on feast days we get up earlier” to pray, he said.

“All of the monks and the monks’ guests are safe,” he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered “considerable structural damage,” and the monastery will need repairs as well.

Within a half hour of the first quake, Father Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people “because it is the safest place in town, around the statue of St. Benedict.”

While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors’ needs.

The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Father Nivakoff said, “the facade seems to have detached” from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely.

Assisi is just 45 miles from Norcia and, according to Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, the quake was felt strongly at the convent and basilica that suffered major damage from an earthquake in 1997.

Father Fortunato told the Italian news agency ANSA that the quake woke all the friars, many of whom ran to the Basilica of St. Francis. No damage was visible, he said.

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Oblate Sisters at Mount Aviat raising funds for quake-damaged schools in Ecuador

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Dialog reporter

The Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales in Childs, Md., are asking for assistance to help rebuild four schools run by their congregation that were damaged April 15 by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Ecuador.

The latest death toll is at least 696, although no fatalities or injuries were in those schools, which were not in session at the time.

The schools serve more than 2,800 students. The sisters in Ecuador reported that many pupils, teachers and employees lost homes and family members.

Oblate Sister John Elizabeth Callaghan, principal of Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, reported that a statue of Our Lady of Light remained untouched in the school that was completely leveled. In one of the schools, a sister left the building at 6:45 p.m. to attend Mass, and the building was destroyed 13 minutes later.

“The devastation is almost unimaginable,” Sister John Elizabeth said. “The Sisters continue to sleep on a patio area for fear of the frequent aftershocks. They are trying to get water, food and medicine to their school families who have lost homes and businesses.”

Sister John Elizabeth said the Oblate Sisters have served in Ecuador for 100 years, primarily in education and outreach to the poor. Two of their schools were destroyed, while the other two sustained serious damage, and the congregation will need to depend on the generosity of others to rebuild.

They need donations to do that. The Mount Aviat community is holding fundraisers such as a cake bake featuring homemade liqueur cakes. A Mount Aviat volunteer group called the “Friends” will be selling their homemade macaroni and cheese, and the students and staff will symbolically “walk a mile in their shoes” on the school grounds, Sister John Elizabeth said.

Students at Mount Aviat often raise money to support the Oblate Sisters’ missions. The people of Ecuador gave the school a large tapestry, artwork and Christmas Nativities as a sign of their gratitude, Sister John Elizabeth said.

In addition, the Oblate Sisters have set up a special account to receive and hold donations until their colleagues in Ecuador are ready to accept them. To donate online, go to www.oblatesisters.org. Checks payable to the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales can be sent to 399 Childs Road, Childs, MD 21916.

The Oblate community in Childs feels a connection to those elsewhere, Sister John Elizabeth said.

“The Oblate Sisters serve in nine nations, yet we are a relatively small international congregation. Perhaps that makes it easier to stay connected,” she said.

“One of the schools that was destroyed is named St. Leonie Aviat School and was founded just a year after the sisters opened a kindergarten in the U.S. that eventually became Mount Aviat Academy. We can ask, what if all we worked for in the past 60 years was destroyed in less than 60 seconds?”

On a larger scale, Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ relief and development agency, was partnering with local organizations to determine how best to respond. Water, food and emergency shelter are the biggest needs.

Damaged communications networks have made it difficult to get in touch with groups in Ecuador, CRS said.

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Bleak Christmas faces church in quake-ravaged Nepal amid crippling blockade

December 23rd, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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THRISSUR, India (CNS) — Catholics in Nepal are preparing for a bleak Christmas because of an economic blockade imposed by neighboring India.

Church officials told Catholic News Service that the Nepalese face a heightened crisis as winter settles in because supplies of fuel for vehicles and cooking gas have dwindled and electricity service has become intermittent. Read more »

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Pope calls for prayers, aid after quake in Pakistan, Afghanistan

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As the death toll from an earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to rise, Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete aid for survivors.

A Pakistani woman holds an injured child in their home Oct. 26 following a magnitude-7.5 earthquake in Peshawar, Pakistan. As the death toll from the earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to rise, Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete aid for survivors. (CNS photo/Bilawal Arbab, EPA)

A Pakistani woman holds an injured child in their home Oct. 26 following a magnitude-7.5 earthquake in Peshawar, Pakistan. As the death toll from the earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to rise, Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete aid for survivors. (CNS photo/Bilawal Arbab, EPA)

The magnitude-7.5 temblor Oct. 26 left at least 380 people dead and thousands of homes and buildings badly damaged.

“Let us pray for the dead and their relatives, for all those who are wounded and the homeless,” he said at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 28. He asked that God offer consolation and courage to those who were suffering and struggling.

He asked that “these brothers and sisters not be lacking our concrete solidarity.”

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