D&P, Sharelife among groups raising funds for Japan disaster relief

By  Catholic News Service
  • March 15, 2011

A woman weeps after being told of the death of relatives. Japanese officials are estimating that 10,000 people may have lost their lives. (CNS photo/Reuters/Kyodo)TOKYO - As the magnitude of the disaster in Japan unfolded, religious and humanitarian aid organizations stepped up efforts to provide assistance for survivors.

Among the organizations mobilizing assistance is the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. D&P is accepting donations to help with the situation in Japan and in support of Caritas Japan, said communications officer Kelly Di Domenico in an e-mail to The Catholic Register.

"The money will go towards reconstruction projects as it is foreseen that those who are most vulnerable will need help in getting re-established," she said.

The March 11 earthquake was followed by tsunamis that wiped out entire cities and by fears of catastrophe at nuclear power stations damaged in the quake. Government officials estimated that tens of thousands of people lost their lives in the disasters.

In a statement, Caritas Japan said it would concentrate its efforts on meeting the needs of people with no access to public services and on the rehabilitation phase of recovery.

Niigata Bishop Isao Kikuchi, president of Caritas Japan, said, "We have received so many e-mails from all continents, filled with words of compassion and prayer. We are very grateful for this solidarity. We believe that aid activity is needed, but prayer is also important in such a situation."

The diocese of Sendai includes the areas hardest-hit in the disaster, reported the Asian Church news agency UCA News. Fr. Peter Shiro Komatsu, diocesan chancellor, said March 14 that Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai was unharmed but had not received complete reports on the damage because telecommunications remained disrupted. The priest said diocesan officials did not know about what had happened to several churches along the coast. He said one church in Fukushima was totally damaged and eight churches in Sendai were either unaffected or only slightly damaged.

The diocese said Fr. Andre Lachapelle of the Quebec Foreign Mission Society had died en route from Sendai to his church about 13 km away.

UCA News reported that Catholics in mainland China were among Asian Catholics who expressed solidarity with the earthquake victims in Japan and added prayers to their Masses March 13. Jinde Charities in northern China's Hebei province also offered an initial $10,000 to support Caritas Japan's relief efforts.

In Seoul, South Korea, Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk offered prayers and an initial $50,000. Korean Protestants and Buddhists also offered prayers.

Donations to D&P can be made by calling 1-888-664-3387 or on its web site, www.devp.org.

ShareLife, the charitable fundraising arm of the archdiocese of Toronto, is accepting contributions which will be forwarded through Development and Peace (the Caritas representative in Canada) to Caritas Japan. Donations can be made by calling 1-800-263-2595 or visiting www.sharelife.org.

(With files from Vanessa Santilli.)


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