Yesterday I called my friend, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City. In the aftermath of the devastating tornado that has taken lives, destroyed homes and tragically disrupted so many lives, I wanted first to offer him and his people the assurance of my prayers and the prayers of all of us in our diocese. I got him on his cell phone. He was visiting his people and assessing the damage and the needs of the people and places hit so hard. Two things he told me remain vividly in my mind.
First, he described just meeting a man walking with his three year old daughter. Both his elbows were broken. Why? He broke them lifting debris off the bodies of little children, some dead but most -– thank God –- still alive. The courage of that one man is emblematic of the power of goodness in the face of tragedy.
Secondly, when I asked the archbishop if he could use some help, he answered, “at first I thought we should not ask, that we could handle this ourselves. Now I am seeing how extensive is the damage to homes, schools and lives. We can’t do it alone.” I told him we know what is life after Superstorm Sandy and that I am authorizing a collection in our parishes, asking the pastors to invite our faithful to be generous. Whatever we get we will send down to you as soon as we have it.
We have many demands on our charity and you, the good people of our diocese, are always responsive to the needs of others. Because you are so generous I do not hesitate to ask you to do your best to respond to this appeal as best you can. My personal check is already in the hands of the office of the diocese. Please join me in whatever way you can. May God bless your generosity.