A man carrying goods walks along a street with houses that were destroyed by an earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, in this April 30 photo. CNS photo/Navesh Chitrakar, Reuters

Canada's bishops, D&P launch emergency campaign for Nepal

  • May 2, 2015

OTTAWA - Canada's Catholic bishops and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) have launched a joint emergency campaign to help earthquake victims in Nepal.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher is asking parishes and other groups to organize special collections before May 25 to take advantage of the Canadian government's pledge to match any funds collected by that date.

The April 25 earthquake has claimed more than 6,000 lives by May 1 and that number is expected to rise as thousands more are unaccounted for.

"The number of casualties is expected to become much higher as rescue teams try to make their way into more remote areas," the CCCB said in an April 30 statement.

D&P has distributed parish bulletin announcements and a Question and Answer document to help Catholics understand the emergency. The earthquake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was 80 km from Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.  

"Nepal is one of the poorest countries on the planet," it said. "Its infrastructure is not designed to cope with an earthquake this strong, the most devastating in over a century."

There are an estimated 1.4 million people in need of emergency food relief and "aftershocks continue to strike the region so people are choosing to sleep outdoors even though it is very cold," the bishops' development agency said.

D&P is working with other Caritas agencies in the region, including Caritas Nepal, Caritas India and the Catholic Relief Services office in India. People can find out more about how to donate at devp.org.  

"What the people need immediately is shelter," said Fr. Pius Perumana, director of Caritas Nepal which is supplying tarps for shelter. "Temperatures are dropping at night and there is also rain. Children are sleeping outside at night. It is really traumatic for them."

D&P has already sent $50,000 in emergency relief funds to the region.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), another Holy See charity, is also active in the region. On April 29, ACN issued a release reporting the eyewitness account of Nepal's Catholic bishop.

Bishop Paul Simick told ACN the earthquake's impact on Nepal's Catholic community of 10,000 faithful has been "devastating," he said.  

But assessing the damage is difficult because of a breakdown in communications due to impassable roads and no domestic flights, leaving many communities cut off, he said.

"I would also like to request your prayer support for the victims' families who have lost loved ones, those who are still missing loved ones and those who are seriously injured," he said.

Information on how to donate to Aid to the Church in Need can be found at acn-aed-ca.or. ACN-Canada will also apply for the government's matching funds program.

Canadian Jesuits International is also raising money to support the work of Jesuits in Nepal and their relief efforts. Director Jenny Cafiso said CJI will also be applying for matching funds and donations can be made through canadianjesuitsinternational.ca.

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