Charity and prayers from across U.S. have helped us serve our communities after the tornadoes
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In January 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake that left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. Haiti, already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, seems to be plagued by natural and manmade disasters. Pope Francis, acknowledging Haiti after a recent explosion killed scores of people, prayed for “poor Haiti.”
Dioceses across the United States took up special collections to support the recovery efforts in Haiti spearheaded by Catholic Relief Services. The tragic story of Haiti had been extensively reported in our American media.
I was ordained on February 10, 2010 as the fourth bishop of Owensboro. One of the first bits of information to cross my desk in those early weeks was that our local diocesan collection for Haiti had brought in more than $240,000. There had been many special appeals in the diocese before this and many since then, but this collection stands as a well-deserved record of the Catholics of western Kentucky responding to our neighbors in need.
As early as the first day after the tornadoes of December 2021 impacted many communities across western Kentucky, I began to hear from bishops and pastors across the United States assuring us of help. Naturally I thought back to that special appeal for Haiti in 2010 and could not have imagined an event in our own diocese that would have made us the recipients of such extraordinary charity.
On the Monday morning after the tornadoes, Susan Montalvo-Gesser, the director of our Catholic Charities of western Kentucky, asked me if she could apply to Catholic Charities USA for a $10,000 emergency relief grant. Of course I supported that and she related quickly back to me that they would send her a grant request application but that we should expect to receive the grant. Within an hour, she heard back from CCUSA that we could forget the application and they would be sending us $250,000 immediately. This news gave me true confidence that the Diocese of Owensboro would be able to make a real impact in helping individuals and communities recover from this natural disaster.
In the first week of January 2022 we heard again from Sr. Donna Markham, OP – president of CCUSA – that we would be receiving an additional grant of $1 million.
In the meantime, dioceses and parishes across the United States had made direct gifts or sponsored special collections to respond to the extraordinary need. The parishes of our diocese have contributed $380,000 to date. Dioceses, individual parishes around the country, foundations and individual givers have contributed more than $4,870,000. We have received contributions from more than 5,300 donors.
A happy challenge is now to find our niche for responding to human needs among the services of FEMA, Red Cross, and many other help organizations and churches. Our priorities will be to help individuals and families recover and resettle, and to assist St. Joseph Parish in Mayfield and Resurrection Parish in Dawson Springs to rebuild and repair.
I was deeply impressed in 2010 with the response of Catholics of western Kentucky to the extraordinary needs of our sisters and brothers of Haiti. From a most different perspective I am now grateful and humbled by the charity and prayers from all across the United States to assist us in helping our neighbors in need so close to home.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend William F. Medley
Diocese of Owensboro
How to help
Monetary donations may be given digitally via https://owensborodiocese.org/give/. Checks may be mailed, with “Tornado Disaster Relief” written in the memo, to Catholic Charities, 600 Locust St., Owensboro, KY, 42301. To learn more about ways to help, call the McRaith Catholic Center at (270) 683-1545.
Originally printed in the February 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.