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Catholic Voice
January 6, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Bishop brings Christmas message
to jail inmates

Gingerbread, Legos and painted rocks: Crèche Festival showed creativity
Diocese collects $370K
for Typhoon Haiyan relief

Gabbi Carroll, John Zeitler, Theresa Campion, Mitchell Woodrow, Suzanne Denson and Jacquie Martin collect funds for typhoon relief at Saint Mary's College.
Courtesy photo

The Diocese of Oakland has donated more than $370,000 in relief assistance to areas struggling to recover from a major typhoon that struck the Far East in early November.

In an email to chancery employees and the parishes, diocesan Controller Paul Bongiovanni announced that his office was processing a check of $359,000 from the parishes to Catholic Relief Services. Bongiovanni also forwarded an additional $11,000 in checks made payable to CRS directly.

The funds were collected after an invitation from Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, to the parishes to hold a special collection to aid the storm-ravaged area.

Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, is believed to have been the most powerful such storm to make landfall. It hit the Philippines, parts of Vietnam and other areas in Asia on Nov. 8. So far, the death toll has passed 6,155 with 27,665 injured and 1,785 missing. The hardest-hit areas or provinces were Leyte and Eastern Samar, where some 2.3 million people live, according to a Philippine government website (www.gov.ph/crisis-response/updates-typhoon-yolanda/).

Winds in this area reached 168 mph — with gusts recorded up to 194 mph — and a storm surge of 21 feet.

In addition to the diocesan funds, Catholics throughout the diocese have held fundraisers, gathered new and used clothing and collected other supplies to send to storm survivors. Here are the efforts of some of our Catholic faith communities.

Father Robert Rien, pastor at St. Ignatius Parish in Antioch, said that his parish along with "sister parishes" Immaculate Heart of Mary in Brentwood and St. Anthony Parish in Oakley joined together to collect shoes, socks, towels, toiletries and medical supplies to send overseas. "Under the direction of Pablo and Norma Villegas, eight large boxes of supplies were sent from our parish alone."

The tragedy greatly affected the Antioch parish, which has "a significant number of Filipino families whose relatives were affected by the typhoon," Father Rien said. If that wasn't pressure enough the parishes had only three days to collect the supplies that were shipped free of charge, thanks to arrangements made by Father Ken Sales, pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Oakley.

With their Knights of Columbus council heading the clothing and essential needs drive, parishioners at St. Joachim in Hayward shipped off more than 40 boxes and 3 pallets of goods to the Philippines, said Pat Ludwig, the parish's office administrative assistant. The Knights "worked tirelessly" to sort through donations and then mark the packages so that "when they opened a box in the Philippines they would know exactly what was in each box."

Parishes offered monetary aid and relief supplies as rapidly as they could. Members of St. James the Apostle Parish in Fremont sent $15,000 and 200 boxes filled with food and new and used clothing; the social justice committee at St. Paschal Parish in Oakland sent a $500 donation.

Members at St. Bonaventure Parish in Concord concentrated their efforts on sending financial resources to help in one town, Boto, where parochial vicar Father Ronan Rances, SJ, is from. The Rances family is the conduit of the parish's funds, Father Richard Mangini, pastor, said. The parish has raised more than $40,000.

The international medical mission ministry from Most Holy Rosary Parish in Antioch will be sending a team of doctors, nurses and medical aids to Panay for a medical mission that begins on Jan. 8 and ends Jan. 22. In addition to medical supplies, the team, known by its initials HRIMM, will also bring hammers, nails and other construction tools. "We are helping them reestablish their health care system," said Aileen Hayes, a founding member of HRIMM.

The logistics of getting a medical mission team into any country is "difficult at best," Hayes said. "We often allow six months or more to organize our trips." This is the first time that HRIMM has responded to a disaster in "putting a team together in six weeks' time" as well as gathering all the medications, supplies and staff.

"The most important aspect of any outreach is our in-country logistics, which are being handled by Matt Riley who is a parishioner here at Holy Rosary in Antioch, but is currently teaching at a university on Panay Island, where we will be working," Hayes said.

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