Aid in Haiti — the beginning to a Lent of love Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends in Christ,

As was mentioned last week, you, your parishes, and your pastors are to be highly commended in general! We as a diocesan family have come together in an incredible show of our love of neighbor and our unity as a diocese by raising a remarkable $508,130.02 for our sisters and brothers in Haiti.

Very soon after the devastating earthquake, Pope Benedict XVI promised the people of Haiti of the prayers and concrete support of Catholics around the world. And even before the Holy Father made these promises, Catholic Relief Services was there in Haiti helping those injured and dying; you and your parishes were asking “what can we do?” and our diocesan offices were organizing how we could respond.

haiti relief contribution breakdownThere is much to mourn, with the loss of life and important structures, ongoing poverty, crime, hunger, and so many needs of those still devastated in Haiti. There is still much to do, to tend to these brothers and sisters of ours, suffering so very much. But we should also feel a sense of joy, that for love of God and our neighbor, we are answering this need in a very significant way. Thank you for your generous giving to aid those affected by this tragedy.

Aid through Catholic Relief Services

As you know every penny sent through the diocese for Haitian relief is being sent to Catholic Relief Services, as they continue directly to care for those in Haiti. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian agency of U.S. Catholics and does so much good, for so many around the world.

Through CRS, we work with the universal Church to assist more than 100 million people in more than 100 countries and when natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti strike, CRS is always one of the very first groups to give direct assistance. Where nations, for political reasons, are not allowed to enter an area in need, CRS can and does tend to the needs of people, regardless of faith, politics, or nationality.

Simply put, there is hardly a better agency for us, as Catholics, to support in helping the most vulnerable around the world.

Give alms charitably this Lent

Lent begins this week and, along with prayer and fasting, we are called to give alms charitably during this holy season. We give in our parishes, to worthy local charities, and through CRS we can continue to give to assist in the charitable work for the poorest of the poor around the world. Please continue to give to CRS, directly and through Operation Rice Bowl, with which you are no doubt very familiar. Catholic Relief Services, which helps so many around the world, needs our continued support. So, please do what you can to continue to give to CRS.

At the same time we cannot forget that there are many here in our midst who are in need. During this time of more intense prayer and self-giving I would also encourage you to reach out to our neighbors here in south-central Wisconsin. Through our parishes, our diocesan Church, and connected agencies such as Catholic Charities we have many opportunities to serve these neighbors as well during this Lenten season.

Just as we were asking ourselves last month, regarding Haiti’s troubles, “what can we do?,” we should repeatedly ask ourselves “what can we do for those suffering in our own communities?” With unemployment in Wisconsin near nine percent and a number of our farms and individuals in towns and cities hit quite hard by the economic hardships, we are in a unique position to reach out and serve our friends in need. Please consider this and pray about this, as giving opportunities arise this Lent.

Time to seek conversion, share love of God

More than anything, the people of this world, of all walks of life, income levels, and nationalities, need continued conversation toward an understanding of the truth – who is Jesus Christ and who will not disappoint. Lent is a time to seek conversion and greater understanding in our own lives, but also we need to pray for and with others and do everything we can to share the love of Christ with others. His love will change hearts and the world. We give charitably during Lent, and always, for the love of God. But let us not forget to give others what they need most, which is that very love of God.

Thank you for reading this. May the Lord’s blessings fill you and your family and loved ones generously during this Lenten season. Praised be Jesus Christ!