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Catholic Voice
  October 23, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Residents look through the remains of their destroyed home on Oct. 9 after wildfires in Santa Rosa. Deadly Northern California wildfires have killed more than 40 people and destroyed almost 6,000 buildings, including a section of the Cardinal Newman High School.

More is accomplished by prayer than this world knows

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The fires in Santa Rosa and Napa have been on everyone's mind, and not just because when we walk outside it smells like we're at a campfire. How much worse it is for those who have lost their homes, and even their lives.

Many people have written, phoned and emailed me asking, "How can we help?" I contacted Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa (which includes Napa and Sonoma), offering our help. I offered to host him, and any of his priests who might have been left homeless.

I asked him what he needed most.

"Quite frankly, Mike," he said, "we need prayers."

In our effort to provide material assistance, which is certainly welcome, we often forget the supernatural power of God, to Whom we turn in times of distress such as this.

If you will look at Bishop Vasa's website (http://srdiocese.org/signofhope), you will see he is very specific, and tells people, if you really want to help us, sign up for an hour of adoration in your parish, and keep up that weekly commitment until the First Sunday of Advent. I agree, and add my voice to his. More is accomplished by prayer than this world knows.

We also are collecting donations to help the folks in Santa Rosa rebuild. I am reprinting below my Letter to Parishes and Schools, which I sent out last week.

I only change one thing: After all the voluntary second collections have taken place, rather than put the check in the mail, I intend to take our collective gift personally to Bishop Vasa and communicate to him our love and support.

Thank you for your concern and generosity; generosity expressed both spiritually and materially.

Letter to Parishes and Schools
Helping our neighbors affected by fires

As the loss of life and property mounts due to the wildfires north of our diocese, our hearts ache for our sisters and brothers in the Santa Rosa diocese. Please join with me in praying for the dead and for those who are suffering, whether from physical injury or from the loss of their homes and livelihoods. We also pray for the firefighters, medical personnel, social workers and others who are aiding the victims and their loved ones.

I have spoken with Bishop Robert Vasa, the bishop of Santa Rosa. He is grateful for our prayers, and is providing regular updates on his website: http://srdiocese.org/signofhope. He is encouraging everyone to participate in a holy hour of adoration to pray for those affected and for the fires to subside.

I ask all parishes to consider a special collection for the victims of the fires. Please select a weekend to accommodate your parish's calendar, and send the money per our usual process for special collections. We will send immediately to the Santa Rosa diocese.

Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa (www.srcharities.org/fire-recovery) is working with other agencies to provide short-term and long-term support for victims. People who are in shelters will need to find temporary housing while their homes are being rebuilt. Monetary donations will be the most useful contribution to that work; you can find information on how to donate at their website. They are also able to accept a limited number of the following items: diapers, baby wipes, face masks, twin size blankets, toiletries, towels and warm adult coats.

Catholic Charities is also in need of bilingual volunteers; you may dial 707-528-8712, ext. 160, for more details. Sometimes people in shelters appreciate having someone willing to listen and to pray with them. This ministry of presence is truly an act of mercy.

I am grateful for your compassion and outreach to our sisters and brothers.

Michael C. Barber, SJ
Bishop of Oakland

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