September 4, 2017
Local parish offers prayers and donations for Hurricane Harvey Victims
Story and photo by Kathleen Harrington
WESTFIELD- Parishioners of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westfield joined Christians around the country in prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey on Sunday, Sept. 3, the National Day of Prayer.
“We ask God to unite us in one voice of prayer,” said Father Daniel Pacholec, pastor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. “We pray in memory of those lost, in support of those affected, and in thanksgiving for all our first responders, military personnel, and people of good will.”
Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 near Corpus Christi, Texas, causing catastrophic flooding up the coast to the Houston area and beyond in the last week. Images of the hurricane’s devastation, the flooding, its aftermath, and the brave rescuers greeted parishioners as they entered the church this weekend. Alongside the display of photographs was a basket for donations and information on how to contribute online.
“Forty-two thousand people spent last night in shelters in Texas and Louisiana. That doesn’t include the people who found refuge with family and friends away from the flooding,” said Father Pacholec in his homily. “This disaster and the images of the rescues, we can’t take our eyes off of them. It’s the largest disaster in the United States and it’s drawing the largest response from people all around the country. After all the divisiveness we have experienced, this is uniting people.”
“Powerful pictures,” said one parishioner viewing the display of photographs after the Mass. As people left the church, they stopped to place donations into the basket. The words of Sunday’s Gospel reading echoed in the minds of many when Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” The call to help neighbors was heard by young and old. People were finding ways to help even before today’s collection.
“We donated cases of water, diapers, and cat and dog food,” said parishioner Andrea Cook-Hewitt. She learned of a truck of collected donations heading to Texas so her family pitched in.
Following Hurricane Harvey, Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski encouraged people of all faiths to unite to help. He asked all parishes in the diocese to have a special collection to financially support those affected by the disaster. The collection will continue next weekend.
“There is no way to know how much money is donated by parish or by the diocese,” said Mary Federici the pastoral minister at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.
“Some people will donate online or send their contribution to the Diocese of Springfield/Hurricane collection.”
All monies collected will go to Catholic Charities USA.