Overwhelming relief: Diocese collects for victims of tornadoes
A nightmarish tornado outbreak across Central Illinois in mid-November is being followed by a perfect storm of generosity in the season of giving.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, asked all parishes in the diocese to conduct a second collection for tornado victims at Masses the weekend of Nov. 23-24. As of Wednesday, Dec. 11, more than $118,000 had already been forwarded with 86 parishes still to report.
Bishop Jenky said the funds will be distributed to affected areas around the diocese under the direction of Catholic Charities, including to the devastated communities of Washington and Gifford hit by separate tornadoes on Nov. 17.
“By God’s grace, none of our churches or buildings suffered damage,” wrote Bishop Jenky in a Nov. 20 letter to priests calling for the diocese-wide collection, which replaced a scheduled second collection for typhoon victims in the Philippines. “However, many of our faithful, including some of our teachers, were profoundly affected. Please join me in offering prayers for those affected by these storms.”
“It’s amazing what people have done,” said Father Stephen Willard, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Washington, at a Mass one week after the tornado. (See related story and photo slideshow here.)
“It’s been truly overwhelming,” added Stephanie Bina, a volunteer co-leader of the parish’s relief effort. She told The Catholic Post on Tuesday that 140 homes of parishioners were among the 1,000 damaged in Washington, with 80 homes of St. Patrick members totally destroyed.
St. Patrick’s opened a tornado relief fund to assist parishioners in need. A preliminary report of donations will appear in the next issue of The Catholic Post. For two weeks the parish also operated a relief center out of its school gym.
To help inundated relief centers in Washington and surrounding areas store and distribute donations of food, clothing, and other supplies that continue to arrive from around the county, the Diocese of Peoria has opened the former SHARE Food warehouse at 1825 N.E. Adams St. Bishop Jenky has placed the project under the direction of Catholic Charities. See related story here.
In addition, students at Catholic schools around the Diocese of Peoria have mobilized to assist tornado victims. See that story here.