New York (Fides Service) - “We are deeply grateful for the many prayers assured and offerings sent to our offices and other Church offices all over the country” Mgr John E. Kozar national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States told Fides. “Catholics and members of other confessions are responding with great generosity to help those suffering under these tragic circumstances. We have all been affected in some way by such devastation. Our ‘brothers and sisters’ in the archdiocese of New Orleans and the diocese of Biloxi, had to evacuate offices, churches, homes, presbyteries and convents” Mgr. Kozar said stressing that most of the affected dioceses are the most needy even under normal circumstances. “Catholics in the United States have always offered aid spontaneously and generously. We feel the sense of loss and grief of people of Luisiana, Mississipi and Alabama. Most Catholics are deeply aware of the meaning of the Lord’s words: ‘Whatever you did to one of these little ones you did it to me’ and they act accordingly”.
Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans who joined thousands of displaced people and is helping to assist the hurricane victims has called for nation wide prayers, Mgr. Kozar said. Both Archbishop Hughes and Bishop Robert W. Muench of Baton Rouge went to pray with people in makeshift shelters. Bishop Thomas Rodi of Biloxi, Mississipi, who contacted the Bishops Conference on his mobile, said 20% of the churches and one third of the schools in his diocese were destroyed.
Bishop William Skylstad of Sposane, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the United States said “the disaster concerns every bishop because of the high number of church personnel now isolated and working under the most difficult conditions and perhaps not even aware that the entire country is praying for them. We have no means of knowing even if they are well”. The Bishops’ Conference has started a nation wide collection and called for prayers for the victims of hurrican Katrina.
The Knights of Colombus have launched a programme to assist hurricane victims in Luisiana, Mississipi, Alabama and Florida. Mgr John Kozar keeps PMS staff, benefactors and friends continually informed of the situation in order to help in the best possible way these brothers and sisters, mainly through prayer. “Every day at the national PMS office Mass is offered for the people in the affected areas. The national office and all our diocesan directors are encouraging people to help in this disaster reminding them that parishes will take special collections, as requested by the Bishops’ Conference and we ask them to pray to God for the victims and their families”. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 5/9/2005, righe 34, parole 497)