Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On August 27, Hurricane Laura caused significant damage in Louisiana and Texas. Most of our people and our church parishes lost power for many days. Some suffered major damage. We are still recovering from the storm, clearing away fallen trees and making arrangements for roofers and other contractors to undertake needed repairs. Of course, Southwest Louisiana was devastated by the storm. Our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Lake Charles are facing a rebuilding process that will take years. Many of you have already been generously helping our neighbors here in Central and Southwest Louisiana. Now we are preparing for another storm – Sally – that may affect Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts.
In addition to these hurricanes and tropical storms, the states of California, Oregon and Washington have seen unprecedented wildfires. In some cases, entire towns have been burned. They need our help as well.
Mindful of these and other natural disasters, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has asked that archdioceses and dioceses throughout the United States take up an extraordinary second collection during the month of September. The USCCB maintains a Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund to assist people and parishes affected by these and other natural disasters. I have designated the weekend of September 26-27 as the dates for this second collection and I ask every parish and mission to take up this collection. The funds received in this collection are designated to assist those impacted by Hurricane Laura and other storms and the wildfires in the West. If there are any remaining funds from this collection, they will be used to assist those impacted by the next round of storms, fires, or earthquakes.
While the Diocese of Alexandria may receive some funds from this collection to assist with our own recovery from Hurricane Laura, it is important that we offer our own assistance to those more severely impacted. I recognize that this collection for the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund will fall only one week after the previously scheduled collection for the Priests’ Retirement Fund. This collection, which remains entirely in the Diocese of Alexandria, is also needed to continue to support our senior clergy. Thank you in advance for your generosity to both collections.
Live Jesus in our hearts,
Most Reverend Robert W. Marshall, Jr.
Bishop of Alexandria