On September 19th 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated our sister island of Dominica. Coming on the heels of the earlier destruction in Antigua/Barbuda and the Virgin Islands along with the total breakdown of communication with the island, we were all deeply concerned for Dominica and its people.
The Conference of Churches in Grenada had earlier made a strategic decision that we would allow the rush of first response aid to go to the affected places and then we could take an aggressive role with the second round of aid when the respective islands are clearer about their needs and making specific requests.
The Ivan experience has taught Grenada that serious help is needed for long term challenges after the initial emergency furour has died down.
One example given was the need to provide school places for those who are completing their Fifth Form and CAPE exams.
Bishop Malzaire of Roseau has now returned to Dominica and spoken movingly of the devastation. The Catholic Church in Grenada joins with NADMA in urging all those who can to come to the aid of Dominica.
Please pass on any items of food and clothing to the collection centres which NADMA has identified.
A basic Christian principle is that we give of our substance, not just of our surplus. I would ask everyone to give at least 1% of their September income to the cause of disaster relief.
Do not use this occasion to dump expired food or clothing that you would consign to the garbage heap.
Meanwhile, we pray for all the victims of hurricanes this year, even as we ask the lord to spare us further natural disasters.
I wish to encourage all Dominicans resident in Grenada to lead the effort to ensure that the aid reaches those who really need it.
Share with your church family your own anxiety and pain about the tragedy, especially about the lives of your loved ones. If there is any specific help which you would like to suggest as a project, let your parish priest or bishop know.
Caritas Grenada has already begun working along with Caritas Antilles to determine what help is needed and to provide wherever possible.
I commend those parishes who are already taking up special collections for hurricane relief. These can be forwarded to the Chancery for transmission to the Antilles Episcopal Conference office which will send them to Bishop Malzaire. These amounts will be noted in a future issue of Catholic Focus.
On November 3rd, the Independence Day of Dominica, I will preside at a Mass for Dominica in our Cathedral.
Our lady of Fair Haven, pray for Dominica.