JAKARTA, Indonesia – Catholic groups have collected and are distributing aid for thousands of people affected by a deadly earthquake that struck Lombok, Indonesia's popular tourist island.

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HONOLULU – Paul and Rose Utes, members of Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa, had to leave their home when lava from the Kilauea eruptions moved into their section of the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna on the Big Island.

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PIURA, Peru – On the occasion of the worldwide “24 Hours for the Lord”, the Archdiocese of Piura encouraged priests to visit and bring aid to the victims of the natural disasters in northwestern Peru.

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BANGALORE, India - Church workers have joined the massive relief work in India's northeastern Assam state, where flooding has left 126 people dead and affected nearly 3 million people.

"The situation is still very grim, and over 70 percent of the affected families have no access to their villages," Father Theodore Purthy, director of the Tezpur Diocese's social service agency, told Catholic News Service July 12.

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WASHINGTON - After a violent windstorm swept in to the mid-Atlantic region from the Midwest June 29, leaving a trail of devastation across 10 states, volunteers marched in to help those who were worse off.

"People are motivated to help," said Patti Phillips, Catholic Charities communication and marketing director in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va.

The storm left millions of households and businesses without power in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and New Jersey. It caused several deaths and massive power outages that affected more than 4 million.

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Al Cunningham, one of the thousands of residents displaced by the worst fire in Colorado history, told Linda Oppelt of  The Colorado Catholic Herald, the whole ordeal has strengthened his faith. “It’s not that I’m not attached to my property, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said in an interview with the newspaper of the Colorado Springs Diocese.

He was one of about 80 people who attended a special Holy Hour at St Mary’s Cathedral Thursday night to pray for the victims and first responders of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire, the Herald reported. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan announced the prayer service in an email to priests and deacons of the diocese early Wednesday.

Beverly Beal, of Manitou Springs, told Oppelt that seeing “people coming together as a community to offer support” has strengthened her faith. On Sunday morning, for example, when she had been evacuated and went to Mass, “a couple we didn’t even know offered us their home,” she said.

The Colorado Catholic Herald has had extensive coverage of  the disaster and the emergency relief efforts of the diocese, Catholic Charities and parishes. A June 30 story reported on President Barack Obama’s visit to the area and how evacuees were coping with a tough week.

The Associated Press reported this morning that of the 35,000 people who had been evacuated, 3,000 of them were still displaced. More of the evacuees were allowed to return to their neighborhoods today see what, if anything remained of their houses. News reports said about 350 homes were destroyed. Two people died in the blaze that started June 23 in a popular hiking area. AP said the fire was 55 percent contained but that 1,500 firefighters remained on the scene.

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A massive wildfire that started around the popular hiking spot Waldo Canyon west of Colorado Springs forced the evacuation of neighborhoods around several parishes and the cancellation of Sunday Masses at two parishes in the Colorado Springs Diocese.

Holy Rosary Chapel in Cascade and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Manitou Springs canceled Sunday Mass June 24 after authorities determined they could be in the path of the wildfire and forced evacuations of those surrounding communities.

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ROVERETO DI NOVI, Italy - Fear and anxiety are natural responses to the terror and destruction wrought by a natural disaster, but God's love is rock solid, providing certainty and solace for all victims, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Upon this rock, with this firm hope, one can build and one can rebuild," he said to more than 2,000 Rovereto di Novi residents -- many of whom were rendered homeless and jobless by two earthquakes in May.

"Remain true to your vocation as fraternal and supportive people, and tackle everything with patience and determination, fighting the temptations that unfortunately come with these moments of weakness and need," he said June 26.

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VATICAN CITY - With Pope Benedict XVI in Milan for three days under the watchful eyes of Vatican and Italian police, members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard set down their halberds and headed off to do some volunteer work in earthquake-stricken Northern Italy.

Lt. Col. Christoph Graf, vice commander of the Swiss Guards, told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that it was "a spontaneous act of charity and solidarity."

Twenty members of the 100-strong corps left their Vatican barracks early June 2 and headed to Emilia Romagna, struck by earthquakes May 20 and 29. The death toll from the second quake reached 17 June 4 when a corpse was pulled from the rubble of a factory.

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BOLOGNA, Italy - Church agencies stepped up efforts to support local parishes providing assistance to nearly 5,000 people left homeless by a magnitude 6 earthquake in northern Italy.

Caritas Italy, part of the Catholic church's international aid network, was among the first agencies to respond May 20 by sending staff to the affected communities about 22 miles north of Bologna.

The Italian government was assessing damage May 21 and considered declaring a state of emergency.

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TORONTO - Though they’ve watched from a distance, Toronto’s Japanese Catholic Community has prayed with intensity for Japan as the country continues to rebuild following the devastation of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck March 11, 2011.

The small group gathered on the first anniversary of the disaster for its regular monthly Mass, and special prayers for Japan.

Many of the Japanese Catholics at Mass had come from an ecumenical and interfaith prayer service earlier in the day at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

HENRYVILLE, Ind. - As one of the few buildings in town to come through intense storms March 2 nearly intact, St. Francis Xavier Church has become a natural staging area for relief efforts, community organizing and prayer.

Four days after a devastating tornado hit, volunteers and professionals used St. Xavier, the nearby Henryville Community Church and a community center as bases for people trying to put their lives back together.

The town of about 1,600 was one of several in the region to be largely destroyed by a wave of storms that created dozens of tornadoes across 11 states March 2 and 3.

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