Shaken by Reality

On Aug. 24, the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, Central Italy suffered a tremendous “terramoto,” or earthquake. This 6.2-magnitude quake rocked the Umbria region and was even felt in Rome, over 65 km away from the center of the quake.

Father John Cush, a Brooklyn priest serving as academic dean of the Pontifical North American College in the Vatican, reported that the seminary in Rome experienced quite noticeable shaking around 3:37 a.m. early on that Wednesday morning.

There was no damage in Rome or the Vatican, but sadly the same cannot be said about the rest of Italy. At the last count, there were at least 291 dead and hundreds injured. The town of Amatrice is completely devested and even the Benedictine monastery in Norica, birthplace of St. Benedict, experienced some damage.

Relief efforts are underway to help the victims of this earthquake, both nationally and internationally. Pope Francis put aside a prepared text and spontaneously led those gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience in the recitation of the Rosary for the victims of this earthquake.

In an effort to assist the relief efforts, so hampered by the aftershocks, the Holy Father had sent firefighters assigned to the Vatican City-State to assist the victims. The entire country of Italy observed Saturday, Aug. 27, as a national day of mourning for those affected by the quake. All throughout Italy, people are donating much needed blood to help save the lives of the survivors.

Each parish in the Brooklyn Diocese has been asked to take a special collection on the weekend of Oct. 9, to aid the relief efforts in Italy. There was a bilingual English/Italian Mass for the victims (see Page 3) held last weekend at Brooklyn’s oldest Italian church community, Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen in Carroll Gardens. A special collection was taken at that Mass to support relief efforts.

This natural disaster and others even closer to home can cause us to recognize how much we need to shelter and appreciate each other in the world. The flooding in Baton Rouge, La., is a case in point.

The line of destruction caused by the historic flooding stretches for 25 miles, and according to Red Cross officials, it is the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Catholic parishes across the U.S. to take a second collection to assist the suffering in that southern state. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., encouraged U.S. Catholics “to respond generously. Our prayer and material support is urgently needed to help rebuild lives.”

Donations, he said, will go to support the humanitarian efforts of Catholic Charities USA, the church’s domestic relief agency.

We are all brothers and sisters, by blood, by faith and by our common humanity. It might seem like we constantly are asked to donate to those suffering from natural and man-made disasters. It is at times like this that we realize that God has blessed us with the gifts of our lives, our faith and our family and friends. Let’s not forget to share these gifts with each other in times of need.

Share this article with a friend.