Up Front and Personal

Our Response to the Disaster of Sandy

by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

A statue of Mary stands amid the remains of homes destroyed by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point.

Hurricane Sandy has left her trail of death and destruction across our city and region. On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit with the communities affected by the storm. We all pray first and foremost for our fellow New Yorkers and their families who perished. While things may always be replaced, we are all mindful of how important our homes are in our lives and so our thoughts and prayers turn to those whose property was destroyed or damaged.

I am asking all our parishes to take up a second collection to assist those who are in distress as a result of this natural disaster. The fund will be administered by Catholic Charities. Most of our families throughout Brooklyn and Queens are middle-class or working poor. All are so incredibly generous to those suffering in other parts of our country and world. Now we need to come together to assist our neighbors.

Most of us are keenly aware of what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. The unexpected expenses related to relocations, repair and replacement place real strains upon families. While some of those with homes have insurance, few have flood insurance and so that reimbursement often comes after time. The delay in receiving those funds imposes real burdens upon many of our families.

One of the great benefits of living in our city is the fantastic network of subway and buses. Indeed, many of our parishioners are entirely dependent upon public transportation to go to work and/or school each day. The crippling of our transportation system will have far-reaching consequences on so many of our families.

We should all be very proud of how our first responders have conducted themselves in the midst of this crisis. The police, fire, EMTs and sanitation service worked throughout the storm to keep us all safe. I was gratified by the response of our elected officials, who immediately went to work to ensure that the people in our great diocese had the resources needed to get through this storm.

When confronted by natural disasters I am reminded of the words found in the prophet Isaiah, “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in metal, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” While we humans have learned how to mitigate against natural calamity, we cannot, despite these advances, change the reality that life is fragile.

We, as Christians, recognize that our prayer is not always answered the way we expect. Indeed, evil as expressed in natural disasters and illness has its roots in the fallen nature of humanity. No matter how developed or advanced we become, we will undergo these trials. So the response of faith is not so much about the question why is there evil but the conviction that the power of God always conquers sin and evil.

The deep has come to us in this storm, but we must always be ready to meet the challenge and put out into the deep to meet the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves. Please be as generous as you can to help those who are in such great need.

3 thoughts on “Our Response to the Disaster of Sandy

  1. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country.

    We need to stand together to help those who have experienced such great loss and tribulation in the wake of this terrible storm.

    I salute our Bishop for requesting a special collection. Let it be the beginning of help and a sign of hope, the hope that springs eternal in the human breast.

    And don’t forget to pray, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”