Dear Editor: As a longtime parishioner of St. Agnes (now a worship site of St. Paul-St. Agnes parish), I was very buoyed by the response of the Diocese to the conditions faced by the citizens of Puerto Rico who were affected by Hurricane Maria. At our two houses of worship, we collected donations from parishioners and community residents for several weeks.
However, the needs in Puerto Rico are great and remain so. My question is: Are we are satisfied with our response as a Catholic community in the face of such an unprecedented humanitarian crisis? Are we satisfied with collecting goods for a few weeks and sending money? Have we forgotten the level of devastation and need that still remains in Puerto Rico? Why can’t we continue the momentum as a Diocese? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to send food for the holidays, some gifts to those who are struggling, household items to those who have lost their homes or jobs, who are living in homes covered by a tarp?
What a golden opportunity for the Catholic Church to be at the forefront and respond by sending aid on an ongoing basis or at the very least through the holidays. When we respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters, no matter how close or far they are, surely we are doing Gods work.
I have family in Puerto Rico. They’re okay but we’ve had to send them food and other items. Communication is still spotty. I have one cousin who works at a pharmaceutical in Aibonito, a town in the center of the island. She has co-workers who lost everything. She asked me to not forget the island and seek the help of others. Thus one of the reasons for my letter. I feel helpless in the face of this situation and want to do whatever I can. There are others in my family and church who share my sentiments.
It is my hope the Diocese will develop a ongoing strategy to help our Puerto Rican (fellow Americans) moving forward. And let’s not forget to assist our brothers and sisters in the Virgin Islands as well.
Editor’s Note: The Diocese continues to look for ways to assist those affected in Puerto Rico. Catholics Care, the diocesan volunteers who helped in Texas last week, are currently planning to organize a work team to travel to Puerto Rico.