Canadian Catholics respond to flooded areas

  • January 26, 2011
As mud and water claim lives and homes around the world, Catholics in Canada are exploring ways they might help.

Floods have claimed 680 lives in Brazil and left 21,500 homeless in the worst natural disaster to hit South America’s largest country in 40 years. In Australia floods have killed 30 people, 20,000 have been forced out of their homes and 60 towns submerged in the western state of Queensland. Colombia was hit with mudslides just before Christmas that killed 301 people, injured 292, destroyed more than 5,000 homes, damaged over 300,000 homes and flooded 1.32 million hectares of farm land.

While the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is watching all three situations, Caritas Internationalis has yet to launch international appeals for any of the floods. In each case, local Caritas and Church networks are raising money locally and reaching out with volunteers, said Development and Peace spokeswoman Kelly Di Domenico.

While no large-scale appeal has been launched, that doesn’t mean people can’t help through Development and Peace, said Di Domenico.

“Whenever people want to donate for an emergency, we’ll always transfer the funds,” she said.

As the Canadian member of the Caritas network, Development and Peace can quickly and cheaply get money to its Caritas partners around the world, said Di Domenico.

At St. Anthony’s parish, which serves Toronto’s growing Brazilian population, discussions are ongoing about how the parish might help flood-affected communities north of Rio de Janiero.

Among the options under consideration are a clothing drive, with the clothes to be shipped by container to Brazil, or a donation to Caritas Brazil through Development and Peace, said St. Anthony’s pastor Scalabrinian Father Manuel Galvan Vargas.

ShareLife, the fundraising arm of the archdiocese of Toronto, will participate in any appeal launched by Development and Peace and will help out any individual parish that wants to raise funds for a particular disaster, said ShareLife spokesman Bill Steinburg. ShareLife has an account open for Colombia and would do the same in other cases.

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