Catholic Charities to Help Victims of Hurricanes
in Cuba and Other Caribbean Countries

Calling it a “moral duty,” Archbishop John C. Favalora exhorted all Catholics “and people of good will” to send money, food and aid to the victims of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in the Caribbean.

Every parish in the archdiocese will hold a special collection the weekend of Sept. 28 whose proceeds will be distributed directly to the bishops of the affected dioceses, Archbishop Favalora said at a press conference.

In advance of that collection, the archbishop authorized a $50,000 donation from the Archdiocese of Miami to the bishops in Cuba and the bishops in Haiti.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami also continues to collect donations to fund relief efforts by Caritas in the affected nations: Haiti, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Jamaica.

Among the worst off: Haiti, where hundreds died as a result of the rains from tropical storm Hannah and hurricanes Gustav and Ike, all of which hit the island over a period of less than two weeks; and Cuba, whose western provinces were ravaged by Hurricane Gustav less than a week before Ike entered from the east as a category 4 storm, traversing the length of the island before entering the Gulf of Mexico.

In Miami, the skies were cloudy-white and the breezes stiff as the archbishop spoke, a reminder that Ike had not finished his romp through Cuba as the press conference was taking place.

Joining the archbishop in his appeal were some of the archdiocese’s Haitian and Cuban priests and Miami’s retired Auxiliary Bishop Agustín Román.

Catholic Charities continues to accept financial donations. Check can be mailed to:

Catholic Charities
Storm Aid
9401 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami Shores, FL 33138

Donations can be made online via a secure internet site by accessing Catholic Charities online and clicking on Donate Now, followed by designating the amount to be contributed and the donation option.

Collection of food and clothing will only be accepted at these locations:

St. James Catholic Church
540 NW 132nd St. - N. Miami, 33168

Holy Family Catholic Church
14500 NE 11th Ave. - Miami, 33161

Notre Dame D' Haiti Mission
110 NE 62nd St. - Miami, 33138

“Every (Cuban) diocese right now is going to be affected by this hurricane,” said Father Jose Espino, the archdiocese’s liaison to Caritas Cuba. “We are calling on everybody to help.”

Father Jose Espino, who spent five years in Cuba on loan from the archdiocese, tried to assuage the fears of Cuban exiles that the aid sent would be confiscated by the Cuban government.

“We guarantee that the aid will reach the people of Cuba,” he said, noting that Caritas is not a government agency but a grass-roots organization.

“Every parish has Caritas representatives. I am a witness that this (direct aid to the people) is possible,” Father Espino said.

He noted the coincidence that Sept. 8 is the feast of Our Lady of Charity, patroness of Cuba, and Hurricane Ike entered Cuba through the Bay of Nipe, the same waters in which an image of Our Lady of Charity first appeared nearly 400 years ago to three fishermen caught in a violent storm.

They attributed their survival to her intercession, and devotion to Our Lady of Charity quickly spread throughout the island.

“I pray that the charity of the church in Miami will also go from one end of the island to the other,” Father Espino said. “We cannot say we are devoted to Our Lady of Charity if we don’t practice charity.”

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