What a ‘community of believers’ really means

People affected by Hurricane Sandy pick up meals at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Church in Northfield, N.J., Nov. 5. Catholic Charities was working jointly with the American Red Cross at the church to assist residents suffering power outages and other effects of the late October superstorm. CNS photo / Bob Roller

by Archbishop Chaput
From CatholicPhilly.com

Another election has come and gone, and when the complaining dies down, most of us will go back to our everyday lives without a blink. Politics is important. On some issues, it’s deadly serious. But most of the time, for most people, political passion is viral: It appears and disappears like the flu every campaign season.

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone as well. But its human imprint, its extraordinary devastation and suffering, will be with us for a very long time.

During my years of service in South Dakota and Colorado, hurricanes seemed part of another America. The people of the western states had their own serious natural disasters: forest fires, droughts and tornadoes, but nothing on the scale of Katrina or Irene. Catholics in Rapid City and Denver raised money many times for storm victims in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and other states, and abroad. But the idea of water drowning an entire major city like New Orleans – a city right here in the United States — seemed faraway and impossible, even while watching the catastrophe unfold on television.

It’s a very different experience when the hurricane is bearing down on your own people, their families and homes, and their neighbors. That’s when the power of such a storm begins to become real. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett both did an outstanding job of public leadership throughout the storm and its aftermath.  Like many other people in the Philadelphia area, I rode out Hurricane Sandy as a particularly bad storm — expecting the worst, but never even losing power.

Hundreds of thousands of other people across the five counties of the archdiocese were not so lucky. Bucks and Montgomery were especially hard hit. Many families lost power and heat, and even water and telephone communications, for up to a week or more. Others have homes with severe wind and tree damage. Some of our parishes celebrated Sunday Mass, November 4, by candle light.

As painful as Sandy was for Pennsylvania though, the real carnage of the storm, with its loss of life and immense destruction of property, fell on New Jersey and New York. The images of devastation from Staten Island, Atlantic City and other surrounding communities are astonishing. They’re heart-breaking. Local Catholic dioceses, along with numerous volunteers and other relief organizations, are working hard to help the storm’s victims. But recovery will be a long road. Relief efforts need all the help they can get from neighboring dioceses and around the country.

The Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) Disaster Response Office is coordinating Church efforts to assist the victims of Sandy. Up to 50 Catholic Charities agencies will be involved, and donated resources will go to case management and emergency assistance, cleaning and house repairs, emergency evacuation assistance and long-term recovery needs. Financial contributions can be made by phone at 1.800.919.9338. Donations can also be made securely on the CCUSA website at:  https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=2357

A Christian community – a community of believers in Jesus Christ; a community of his disciples – defines itself by the generosity of its people. Catholics in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania have again and again shown their willingness to help other people in need, and especially the victims of disaster. Please give your financial support to these vital Sandy relief efforts through Catholic Charities USA. And please be as generous as you can.


At the discretion of local pastors, an optional special collection will be taken up at Sunday Masses in parishes across the Archdiocese on the weekend following Thanksgiving, November 24-25.  All contributed funds will be provided to Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which will use the donated resources to assist Sandy storm victims locally and in other dioceses.  Please join the Archbishop in praying for all those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Thank you for your help and your good will.

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8 Responses to What a ‘community of believers’ really means

  1. Pastorious says:

    It’s good to see the help people give each other. What a shame they have to ask for donations when you think of the $2.5 billion and more which was spent on the election by big organisations and corporate interests.

  2. toadspittle says:

    If the Archbishop truly believes that, now the election is over, most Americans “..will go back to their everyday lives without a blink” – then he is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
    There was extrao0rdinary bitterness and yes, hate – up to and during the election and it isn’t going to vanish any time soon.
    In fact, Obama’s win will make the nastiness worse.
    Wait and see.
    Which is sad, but there we are.

  3. Pastorious says:

    Of course with all this attention on the US storm situation, we learn little or nothing of Canada, Haiti nor Cuba who were also hit. Not the fault of the US,(tho’ they show no sign of even knowing that others were hit) but of distorted values reflected in the lousy media which we all deserve.

    Haiti is in much more trouble, with proportionately more killed, on an island with appalling problems which existed before the storm. But hey, they don’t matter much. Cubans neither. Canada? what?.

    To see Mittney choking back the emotion on news of the storm’s effects on people was a lesson. With his glassy Reagan smirk, he said that people should go to the Salvation Army for help. Not a hint of the social awareness as shown by CCUSA, whose resources are surely limited. And nobody wants charity.

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    There was extrao0rdinary bitterness and yes, hate – up to and during the election and it isn’t going to vanish any time soon.

    In fact, Obama’s win will make the nastiness worse.

    If Romney hadn’t been such an objectionably ghastly servant of grotesque financial corruption, it might have calmed down — id est : I agree with you 😦

  5. I’ve nominated you for the Food for Thought award. Details here. http://theraineyview.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/award-time-food-for-thought/

  6. Pastorious says:

    Hi Rainey
    Thanks for the chance to see your blog. I must admit it’s a bit of a worry, but maybe it’s just me. I wondered about

    Half -white President
    Muslims as ‘goatherders’
    A defence of the convicted criminal who made a video which caused so many deaths
    Hatred of poor people from the middle east -and Canadians!
    And more!

    I dont want to rain on your parade, but did I miss something?:)

  7. afmm says:

    The previous posters seem pretty full of hate — for Romney. One example, Pastorius mentions the sums spent by “big organisations and corporate interests”. By big organisations, does P
    perhaps mean Unions? By corporate interests,, does P perhaps mean those financed by Soros.
    I doubt it.

    None of the posters seem to be aware of and/or care about the Obama administration’s unprecedented attack on Christian, and particularly Catholic, values and institutions.

  8. Pastorious says:

    Thanks af,
    I never mentioned Soros and when I hear that thief’s name I want to reach for my rosary. I wont bother with the rest of your excitable fables but I object to you saying that “previous posters seem pretty full of hate”. That’s not on, untrue and unpleasant of you to say so. By all means disagree but please keep your imaginings and fabrications to yourself. 🙂

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