Faithful among those turning crisis into opportunity


In just a few minutes on May 22, a twister between a half to one-mile wide tore through Joplin, Mo., a city of 50,000, leaving it in ruins, and at least 116 people dead.

A Catholic hospital – St. John’s Regional Medical Center – took a direct hit. Nearby, the church, school and rectory buildings of St. Mary Parish were all destroyed by the fierce winds, which were estimated at nearly 200 miles per hour. Text messages being sent out to inform the world of the devastation left in the storm’s wake asked that Joplin be kept in everyone’s prayers. “There has and will be much suffering,” Catholic News Service reported one of those messages read.

Faith-based organizations immediately joined the relief efforts. Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul were among those organizations first on the scene coordinating relief efforts and seeking donations.

It is times like these that prompt the faithful to give of themselves in innumerable ways. Time, talent and treasure have a way of converging where and when they are needed most. The disaster is just the latest in a string of weather-related calamities that has ravaged the South over the last few weeks.

Here, halfway across the country from the scene of these disasters, the Diocese of Providence is demonstrating its solidarity with those affected by the tornadoes and flooding. Last week, the diocese announced that it will coordinate efforts for local Catholics who would like to donate to relief efforts. Some of the damaged areas include mission dioceses that lack adequate financial resources to provide assistance.

Given the seemingly insurmountable challenges that many in southern part of the country are facing in light of recent events, the diocese is accepting donations for the tornado/flood recovery efforts. Funds collected will be used to support the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA, the national office for local Catholic Charities agencies and affiliates nationwide, as they respond to immediate emergency needs for such necessities as water, food, shelter and medical care.

Contributions will also be used to minister to the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the church in tornado and flood-affected areas. Individuals who would like to make a donation to benefit these efforts may send a check made out to Diocesan Service Corporation with “Tornado/Flood Recovery” noted in the memo and mail to: Diocese of Providence/Fiscal Office, One Cathedral Square, Providence, R.I. 02903.