Thanks for your generosity: People in diocese reach out to those in need Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008 -- 1:00 AM

The past year has presented many challenges to people in the Diocese of Madison. Last winter we had a record snowfall exceeding 100 inches in the city of Madison and throughout much of our 11-county diocese.

Editor's View
Mary C. Uhler

 It took quite awhile for the snow to melt. A cool spring meant the ground absorbed the melting snow slowly. Then in June, we got hit with torrents of rain: eight to 14 inches fell in many parts of our diocese.

In the midst of these natural challenges, people in Wisconsin faced rising food and gas prices like everyone else throughout the country. People could have hunkered down into their own “caves” and refused to reach out to help others.

People responded generously

However, that’s not what happened in the Diocese of Madison. People throughout the diocese responded generously to a special collection requested by Bishop Robert C. Morlino. Individuals and parishes donated over $95,000 for the flood relief effort. Donations from Catholic Charities USA and other sources brought the total to $130,610.

The Diocese of Madison through Catholic Charities and the Rural Life Office coordinated relief efforts with the help of hundreds of volunteers, primarily from Catholic parishes. Three resource centers were set up in Spring Green, Jefferson, and Janesville providing direct assistance to 876 families. People were able to get vouchers to buy gas or household items lost or damaged in the flooding. Mobile food pantries distributed about 15 tons of food to almost 300 families.

Bridge to recovery

Monique Hicks of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Madison said that Catholic Charities came in to help in the wake of the immediate disaster response from government and relief agencies. Catholic Charities and the diocese provided a “bridge to recovery” to give people assistance in working towards permanent recovery.

Hicks said the diocesan response played a unique role because churches are already centers of community activity and they can easily become centers of disaster response. Recruitment of volunteers and donations can also come readily through local parishes. 

Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Madison have also established connections with government agencies, other churches, and relief agencies. These partnerships will be valuable in responding to future disasters, said Tom Nelson, coordinator of the diocesan Rural Life Office. The diocese now has a model to use for the future, he noted.

Continuing challenges

Our society continues to faces challenges. Here are just a few:

• The General Motors plant in Janesville will be closing in December. 

• The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Madison reports growing numbers of people coming to its food pantry. 

• While gas prices have declined, costs for food and other necessities seem to be rising. 

• The economic outlook does not look promising.

People in the Diocese of Madison need to continue to reach out to those in need in their communities and beyond. You have been generous in this past year and you must keep up donations to your parishes and diocesan agencies. If you can afford to give more, consider doing so. 

Besides money, please give of your time, your talents, and your prayers. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”  Please keep reaching out to help those in need. And thank you for your generosity!