I owe you an update on the response of the archdiocese to the turmoil of the hurricane.
The bad news is that the extent of the destruction from the storm seems wider and deeper each day.
We still have people without homes, whose lives are still in distress.
We still have people grieving the loss of family members and friends. Just yesterday, for instance, Our Lady, Help of Christians Parish on Staten Island gathered around Pat Dresch, a beloved parishioner, a longtime leader in religious education, for the funeral Mass and burial of her husband and daughter, victims to the sea.
We still have massive clean-up efforts, especially in Staten Island, in the south part of Manhattan, and in our upper-counties, in neighborhoods, parishes, and schools.
We still have families whose lives are in upheaval because of work missed or jobs lost, possessions gone and future unsure.
We still are united with those along the Jersey shore, in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, who can’t even get back home yet.
The good news is that God’s people – you – rose to the occasion.
On 9/11, I was at home, in St. Louis, in a parish, and from afar, along with the rest of the world, I admired the resilience, compassion, and cooperation of the New York community.
Now I’m one of you – and, while tearful at the loss, am very proud of the rescue and renewal so evident.
While we do not yet have a tally, it seems as if the parishes of the archdiocese, along with funds designated from the Cardinal’s Appeal, have donated close to $2 million to assist our neighbors in distress, whatever their faith.
Catholic Charities of the archdiocese has been on the front lines, providing not only relief, but coordination of aid, helping as well to renew the spirit by providing counselors for those hit hard by loss.
Our parishes, particularly on Staten Island, became sanctuaries of welcome and assistance.
Our schools and programs rose-up and were back-in-service in remarkable time.
Most of all, the message of Jesus, “Be not afraid,” was proclaimed, as not even the winds and the waves can destroy our hope in Him.
Yes, God can bring good out of evil.
In all of this, the Church has been a leader, a partner, a servant, a refuge.
Tons of work yet to be done, and we intend to be unflagging, because this is not only about homes and possessions, but about people, who are neighbors, fellow parishioners, family members, and friends, who are God’s children, made in His image and likeness. And, as long as we do it for them, we do it for Him.