Catholics in more than 100 parish churches around the metropolitan New Orleans area were asked for donations to support fishing families and others pushed out of work by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Archdiocese of New Orleans said.
In addition, Archbishop Gregory Aymond asked the region's nearly 400,000 Catholics to pray for relief to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, whom Catholics regard as the patroness of the region and protector against natural calamity.
Aymond told pastors to take up special collections anytime over the next three weeks. The money will go to the archdiocese's Catholic Charities arm, which has already begun distributing relief to affected families in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.
In a letter to all the parishes of his archdiocese he asked for prayers for all the victims of the blast on the oil rig that occurred on April 20. He encouraged prayers for those who died, those injured, and their families, that “God may give them peace in their time of crisis.”
“Pray too for those working to clean up the oil spill and for those that will be adversely affected by the effects of the spill.”
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“At these times of tragedy, it is important that we remain focused on God’s love and that we are witnesses of hope."
Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and Second Harvest Food Bank have teamed up to help fishermen in those parishes.
Starting May 6, case managers, crisis counselors, and Second Harvest Food Bank trucks were stationed at St. Thomas and St. Patrick churches in Plaquemines Parish. Assistance is being provided for those interested in applying for food stamps and Medicaid.
On May 5, Catholic Charities partnered with the Santa on the Bayou non-profit in St. Bernard Parish to distribute gift cards and food, as well as to provide case management and counseling to those affected by the oil spill. They were able to reach more than 100 fishermen from St. Bernard who needed aid.
On May 18, BP America announced a combined $1 million donation to Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Second Harvest Food Bank. The donation will support emergency food assistance, direct financial aid and counseling for fishermen and their families in the affected coastal parishes.