The following editorial is adapted from the Aug. 31 issue of the St. Louis Review, archdiocesan newspaper of St. Louis.
Jim McIngvale, known as “Mattress Mack,” opened up his two Gallery Furniture stores in Houston for people displaced by the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
He was housing 400 people by Aug. 28, according to media reports, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for them.
Why? “I was raised as a Catholic. I continued my Catholic faith throughout my life, trying to do the right thing and hopefully, you do the right thing and help people along the way,” he told San Antonio TV station KENS.
We, too, have an opportunity to do the right thing and help the people who are suffering and have lost so much. Parishes here are holding second collections with funds going directly to Catholic relief efforts via Catholic Charities USA. Donations also can be made directly to the church’s official domestic relief agency, here.
Parishes throughout the 10-county Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston have assisted with flood relief as emergency shelters or donation sites. The downtown convention center quickly filled with about 10,000 people. The hurricane has affected not only southeast Texas but also Louisiana. The Federal Emergency Management Agency anticipates 30,000 residents to be placed in temporary shelters and 450,000 victims to seek some sort of disaster assistance.
Church properties are included in the devastation, making for a difficult task of providing pastoral care in these trying times.
The recovery period will last for a long time. With a national reach through a local presence, Catholic Charities helps people through both the immediate and the long-term process of recovery and restoration. Disaster response and recovery efforts include direct assistance, home repair, home rebuilding, health care services and other programs. Catholic Charities uses case management that enables long-term disaster recovery.
The recovery process is not an easy one. Catholic Charities and its partners, coordinating with government agencies, will assess the needs of disaster survivors and work with them over the long term to meet their needs. They do their best to train, plan and build capacity to respond. But they need our help. And cash assistance is best under these circumstances.
There are many heroes in the response to the flooding, as emergency workers and volunteers rescued people from floodwaters and others manned shelters. Mattress Mack’s example of his faith-filled response is one to imitate.
Be a hero, and contribute to the response.
In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, all 217 parishes will take up a collection for Catholic Charities USA’s hurricane relief efforts at all Masses on Sept. 16-17.
The views or positions presented in this or any guest editorial are those of the individual publication and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicPhilly.com, Catholic News Service or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.