|Students collect donations for quake victims.|
Photo credit: David Powell, http://www.shoottokyo.com/
A topic not yet explored in the news media is the effort of the Catholic Church in Japan and abroad to address the area’s staggering, multi-faceted needs. Catholic News Service published an excellent article summarizing the current condition of the Church in the quake zone, as well as initial relief responses from various regions of Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Caritas International is carrying out a principal role, with support from Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Their Web sites and donation pages are: http://www.caritas.org/ and http://www.crs.org/.
Other reputable information sites are: Fides News Agency (Agenzia Fides), the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and Zenit, a Catholic news service based in Rome. Web sites of missionary religious congregations, including the Daughters of St. Paul (http://www.paoline.org/), are sources of current information both about their communities abroad and the people these communities serve. Such sites prove to be as accurate as any others and often, are even more so, due to their connections.
|Photo credit: David Powell|
Today Japan’s bishops met in Sendai to map out the Church’s initial response. Comprising less than 1% of the total population, Catholics are sprinkled throughout the country in 16 dioceses. It’s not known how many have lost their lives, but they are very much a part of a situation that the director of Caritas Japan described as “horrifying.” Buoyed by a hope strengthened by the world’s solidarity, however, the bishops have begun to organize the Church’s support by setting up an Emergency Center to arrange and coordinate humanitarian operations under the supervision of Caritas Japan, according to Fides News Agency today.
Naturally both bishops and laity will be relying on other clergy, as well as on the women and men religious, to lead and carry out much of the Church’s response. But how do they do that if the ecclesiastical infrastructure is severely handicapped? An earthquake does not pick and choose its victims, and often enough, those who are best positioned to assist in relief are themselves hobbled by loss of resources, stamina, and even personnel. Witness Haiti, hardly a year ago. How do we help the helpers?
- The Salesians confirm that all their communities are safe, but some students from the nursery in Fukushima are still missing.
- The General Master of the Dominicans reports that they are unable to contact their members—men or women—in Japan. Rumor has it that they have survived, although one of their houses has apparently been destroyed.
- Canadian missionary Fr André Lachapelle died as a result of the tsunami.
- Two Catholic news services reported that three priests of the Society of St. Paul are missing, but if that was ever the case, this evening the U.S. Pauline leadership stated that all is well.
- Though the Christian Brothers are safe, they share in the common shortage of food and fuel, a hardship for them and for the young people with them.
Photo credit: http://english.pauline.or.jp/
If you would like to financially support the ministry of the Daughters of St. Paul that will evolve over the months ahead, assist with their material needs, or help them plan for recovery, you can donate securely online at www.pauline.org, or send a check, made out to the Daughters of St. Paul, to my attention (Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP) at 50 St. Paul’s Ave. Boston, MA 02130. Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 617-676-4423.
Regardless of what you may choose to do materially, we ask you to pray with us for the Japanese people. Prayer suggestions have been prepared by our sisters with audio and visual accompaniment and have been posted at http://www.pauline.org/. Join us in sharing hope and the grace of God.
|Photo credit: David Powell, http://www.shoottokyo.com/|
* An update of Friday, March 18, states that the Pauline Center sustained major damage, and the sisters' house is almost totally destroyed. They are living on the rice and canned food they had on hand, but supplies are low. Nevertheless, "they're very grateful to the Lord, who has saved their lives. They're also grateful for the gestures of solidarity and prayer" they've received. "All of them thank and greet us" (Sr. Antonieta Bruscato, FSP, superior general).