Category Archives: Charity

Stella Maris supports seafarers facing unseen crisis at Christmas

Seafearer
Stella Maris port chaplain with seafarer

While most businesses and companies have started winding down operations in preparation for the Christmas holidays, global maritime charity Stella Maris (Apostleship of the Sea) will be busy supporting the many seafarers who face unseen difficulties this time of year.

The organisation’s port chaplains and ship visitors in Great Britain and around the world are working through Christmas to ensure that crew members, and particularly those going through crises, receive vital pastoral and practical support.

In one recent case, Stella Maris stepped in to help the Kenyan crew of a vessel who lacked food and water and had received death threats from the ship’s owner. The charity arranged with the local church for the crew to be visited and is working with colleagues to get the situation resolved.

“This will be a hugely stressful time for not only the crew but for their families back home too. Christmas can be a lonely time for many seafarers, without family around, but for those caught up in such awful circumstances, the effect upon their mental wellbeing is huge,” said Martin Foley, Stella Maris European Regional Coordinator.

Last week, a Stella Maris chaplain in Southern Africa learnt about a fishing vessel that was arrested in port with six seafarers on board who are without sufficient food and water. They have also not been paid their wages for a few months now.

The local Stella Maris team intervened, providing emergency food and water supplies. One of the seafarers was shivering from the cold so the chaplain gave him his own warm jacket for which he was really grateful to have. Stella Maris continues to monitor the situation.

Martin said, “Sadly, situations like these are not unfamiliar with Stella Maris port chaplains and ship visitors, as the charity’s HYPERLINK “www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk/life-sea-report” Life at Sea Report – the second edition of which will be published next year – has shown.”

He added: “The sight of a Stella Maris port chaplain or ship visitor going on board a ship is a welcome one for many seafarers, especially at this time of year when we ensure that seafarers are not forgotten and show our appreciation for the sacrifices they make throughout the year.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38585

Sister thanks ACN for bringing smiles to 19,000 children this Christmas

Sr. AnnieSr Annie with children image: ACN

Thousands of Syrian children will be smiling this Christmas thanks to Aid to the Church in Need – according to a Sister helping suffering Christians.

In an audio-message, project partner Sister Annie Demerjian thanked the charity’s benefactors for supporting children living in the ruins of the Syrian crisis.

She said: “ACN brings smiles to more than 19,000 children all over Syria because of your Christmas gifts.”

For the eighth year running, ACN is providing Christmas parcels for displaced children, including warm clothes, shoes, toys, devotional items and other essentials.

Sr Annie praised ACN’s work with the elderly and disabled Christians in Aleppo, providing food, soap and other washing items, medicine, clothes and shoes. She said: “You can’t imagine, when the old receive the aid, how they cry. They open their hands and they thank you. They thank you and they told us that they pray for you. Really you are in their prayers daily. They are grateful for all that you are offering us.”

ACN supported a project in Aleppo, at the request of Latin Bishop George Abou Khazen of Aleppo, to provide food packages for the poorest Christian families, which also include financial aid for fuel and heating oil.

Sr Annie said: “I can’t express my feeling for how you will help to warm so many houses because of the fuel you are providing.”

During the civil war, more than 1,700 Christians were killed and more than 600 abducted.

Christians in Syria have declined by up to two-thirds within the last decade. In Aleppo, the Christian population has declined by more than 80 percent since 2010, falling from 180,000 to 29,000.

Throughout Syria, ACN has provided education scholarships, medicine, rent money for housing, repairs to homes and churches, and support for Sisters and priests. Last year, the charity supported 185 projects in the country.

In her audio-message, Sr Annie said: “I am very happy to have this opportunity to send you a message to thank you for all that you are doing for our people and our families, especially those who are suffering from the consequences of the war.”

 

 

 

https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38531

Catholic couple brings the love of family to young people with mental illness

Couple
Austin and Catherine Mardon meet Pope Francis Nov. 6. Credit: Vatican Media.

.- For Catholic couple Austin and Catherine Mardon, mental illness is personal.

Austin has schizophrenia, Catherine has PTSD, and together they foster children and young adults with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Austin and Catherine have been married since 2003. Both are writers, and their experiences have led them to devote themselves to working on behalf of people with mental illnesses, many of whom, they said, end up without a family and living on the street.

The Mardons met Pope Francis after the general audience Nov. 6. They were inducted, in 2017, into the Pontifical Order of Pope Saint Sylvester, a papal Order of Knighthood, for their work on behalf of the disabled.

A native of Oklahoma, Catherine told CNA she has always remembered what one of her childhood teachers, a Carmelite nun, once said: “We don’t help people because they’re Catholic, we help people because we’re Catholic and we’re called to do it.”

“Look around,” she said. There are people in need of love and support all around, but “don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid” to reach out.

Austin, a Canadian, is an assistant adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta.

A scientist by education, Austin was part of a NASA meteorite recovery expedition to the Antarctic in the 1980s at the age of 24. Unfortunately, the extreme difficulties of the expedition affected him mentally and physically.

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-couple-brings-the-love-of-family-to-young-people-with-mental-illness-61780

Corpus Christi bishop donates bone marrow to save a mother’s life

Saved
Credit: drpnncpptak/Shutterstock.

.- This week, Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi reflected on bone marrow donations and the life of the mother whom he helped save.

Before he became a bishop, Michael Mulvey joined the Be the Match Registry, the world’s largest register for bone marrow transplants (BMT), which is run by the National Marrow Donor Program.

After the organization discovered a match, South Texas Catholic reported, Mulvey, 70, traveled to San Antonio to make a peripheral stem cell donation. He had matched with a mother who had been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer.

Although Mulvey has never met the woman, he said he was humbled by the experience and expressed gratitude to be able to contribute to the well-being of this mother and her family.

“Knowing that because of the life I have been given by God – I was able to give back and make a big difference in this person’s life, in the life of her children and her family is something I have thought of quite often,” he told South Texas Catholic Nov. 5.

Mulvey said he was introduced to Be the Match in 2004, while he was a priest of the Diocese of Austin. There, he had met Leticia Mondragon, a donor development and engagement specialist with GenCure who partners with Be the Match.

“When I was assigned in Austin years ago, one of our very charitable and active parishioners was signing up people for Be the Match,” said Bishop Mulvey, according to South Texas Catholic. “I appreciated her commitment and dedication to this cause, and after hearing more about the registry, I signed up.”

BMT replaces unhealthy bone marrow with healthy marrow from an outside source. The procedure is used to cure cancers in the blood as well as diseases in the bones and immune system. Among other illnesses, BMT has been used for leukemia, aplastic anemia, and sickle cell disease.

According to South Texas Catholic, Mondragon said the process to sign up is more convenient than in the past, noting that people may apply through their smartphone.

Unlike blood donations, a match for BMT does not focus on blood type, but ethnicity. Mondragon expressed hope that the new system will add more “people of all ethnic backgrounds” to the registry.

She stressed the importance of BMT donors, stating that life-threatening disorders are discovered every few minutes, and thanked the bishop for his contribution.

“Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a life-threatening blood cancer or blood disorder, such as leukemia or lymphoma,” said Mondragon, according to South Texas Catholic.

“We are thankful Bishop Mulvey wanted to share his story because it is so important that we have leaders like him promoting our global life-saving mission,” she further added.

Bishop Mulvey described the experience not only as an opportunity for charity but as a spiritual encounter.

“St. Matthew says what you have received as a gift, give as a gift,” said Bishop Mulvey, South Texas Catholic reported. “We must always remember that everyone’s life is a gift and true gratitude is expressed when you are willing to give back and share what you have.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/corpus-christi-bishop-donates-bone-marrow-to-saves-a-mothers-life-52562

Gonzaga, Catholic Charities team up to offer immigration legal assistance

Help
Credit: Diego G Diaz/Shutterstock.

.- Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane is partnering with Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington to offer immigration legal assistance to low-income individuals, as well as training in immigration law for students.

Second- and third-year law students under faculty supervision will assist clients pro bono in the “Catholic Charities Immigration Clinic at Gonzaga Law School” starting this fall.

“We’re viewing this almost like a joint venture between the two of us,” Jacob Rooksby, dean of Gonzaga Law School, told CNA.

“The attorney in charge has a vast network through her time at Catholic Charities. We envision the students and the attorney going on-site to different areas of the state to provide walk-up assistance, and that’s going to start as we get further into the project,” Rooksby said.

The law school has several pro bono clinics already, including Indian Law, Elder Law, and Business Law. The students will work with Megan Case, an attorney who formerly worked with Catholic Charities.

Case told CNA that the center has a significant caseload at the moment, mostly on family reunification cases, whereby legal immigrants can petition for other family members to come and join them in the United States.

The center will also work with individuals seeking asylum. Additionally, they have an immigration court hearing scheduled for January in a deportation case.

Case noted that immigration law is one of the broadest and most complicated areas of U.S. law. She said during her time at Catholic Charities, she oversaw a number of naturalization cases, family reunification cases, and green cards, among others. They also helped individuals who qualified for victim-based visas.

She noted that the center assists both documented and undocumented individuals.

“There’s definitely a need for attorneys to assist people in these types of cases, and there’s a lot of work,” Case told CNA.

Rooksby said there is already student interest and client need for the program.

“As a Jesuit institution, I think we’re taking seriously the Catholic Church’s position on immigration as being one of the signature issues of our time,” he said. “So we see this as very consistent with our mission…the need is already there.”

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/gonzaga-catholic-charities-team-up-to-offer-immigration-legal-assistance-38220

Catholic snakebite clinic in India saves thousands of lives each year

Snake bite
Sister Philomena Guria, RNDM, treats a snake bite patient. Photo courtesy of the Sisters of Our Lady of Missions.

.- In most religious orders’ novitiate year, prospective sisters study and pray. Sister Crescencia Sun, however, had another habit to acquire: killing venomous snakes.

In rural Bihar, about 4,500 people die of venomous snake bites each year. When the Sisters of Our Lady of Missions arrived in the Indian state in the 1990s to educate young girls, the sisters realized that God was calling them to another mission – a medical snakebite clinic.

“Initially, we didn’t have in mind to open the snakebite clinic, but because the people, so many of them suffered from snakebites and … many people were dying, we trained our sisters to learn this because they are nurses already,” Sister Crescencia Sun told CNA.

During the hot summer, the sisters treat 40-50 patients per day at their snakebite clinic, saving the lives of thousands of snakebite victims each year.

“In this place, many people are bitten by snakes … such as cobra, vipers, russell vipers, and krait to name a few,” Sr. Sun shared at the “Women on the Frontlines” symposium in Rome Oct. 16.

The symposium – hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See – highlighted religious sisters’ work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world.

“Women religious are among the most effective and vital partners we have on the frontlines in fragile communities around the world,” Callista Gingrich, US ambassador to the Holy See, said at the symposium.

“Women religious are often the last beacons of hope for millions of people who otherwise would not have a voice. They serve the displaced and the desperate, frequently at the risk of personal harm, in places where governments have failed and humanitarian organizations struggle to operate,” Gingrich said.

Sister Sun told CNA that, at first, she found the work at the snakebite clinic to be very emotionally draining.

“The first three months that I stayed there, I saw very many people dying of snake bites. I was very sad, and I said: ‘Maybe this is not the mission for me,’” Sun shared.

“But, you know, when you see the people keep coming, then you get the courage, and I prayed to God everyday ‘Lord, if this is what you want me to do, you are the one to give me the courage and the strength,’” she said.

Apart from treatment, the sisters work in preventative education, explaining to people in the surrounding villages the danger and how to protect themselves from the snakes.

“Hindus worship snakes, so they do not kill them, even when they become victims of snakebites. So during summer, we work 24/7 day and night,” she said.

Because of poverty, many of the patients they see live in huts made of bamboo and grass with a type of mud floor that can attract venomous creatures, particularly in the summer and rainy seasons.

“We have many stories of people telling us that when they get up in the morning, they just put their foot down from their bed and that is where they were bitten by a snake,” Sun said.

To keep themselves safe, the sisters have also trained dogs to detect the presence of snakes.

“I was very much afraid of snakes. But, being in Bangalore for my novitiate, training to become a religious, in that area we also have plenty of snakes and cobras. That is where I learned how to deal and even have killed a number of snakes, so when I came here, that was a kind of preparation for me,” she said.

In 2018, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Our Lady of the Missions treated more than 6,000 snakebite patients at their snakebite clinic in Kanti, Bihar.

“I believe that God uses us religious as instruments and miracles take place because God heals,” Sister Sun said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-snakebite-clinic-in-india-saves-thousands-of-lives-each-year-47768

In face of California fire, LA archdiocese expands fund for victims

Fire
Saddleridge Fire, Los Angeles County. Credit: Morphius Film / Shutterstock.

Los Angeles, Calif., (CNA).- As a large fire continues to burn in southern California, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has expanded one of its support funds for the victims of fires in the area.

The Saddleridge fire, which began about 30 miles from LA, began last Thursday night and quickly forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire was 45% contained, the LA Fire Department said. It has burned more than 8,000 acres, damaging or destroying at least 75 buildings.

In an Oct. 12 press release, the Archdiocese of LA announced the expansion of a special fund set aside for the 2017-2018 Thomas fire, which took two lives and destroyed 1,063 structures. The program offers support through the arhciodese’s parishes and schools.

“This fund was expanded to include those affected by devastating fires since the Thomas Fire and is now expanding to include those affected by the current fires in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties,” reads the press release.

“Those in need of immediate temporary shelter, food or assistance, can contact the pastor of their nearest parish for help.”

The Saddleridge fire began in Sylmar, a neighborhood in San Fernando Valley, at around 9 p.m. on Thursday. By 7:30 the next morning, the fire spread over 7.3 square miles, jumping over two expressways: the 210 Freeway and the 5 Freeway.

An estimated 1,000 firefighters have been assigned to help combat the fire.

According to LAFD arson investigators, the fire originated in a 50- by 70-foot area below a high voltage transmission tower. Although the cause of the fire is still being investigated, NBC reported, Southern California Edison electric company said their system was “impacted near the reported time of the fire.”

Several other fires are also burning in the region, with at least three total deaths reported so far.

So far in 2019, more than 5,800 fires have been recorded in California, burning some 160,000 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Last year marked the most destructive wildfire season on record in the state, with more than 8,500 fired burning a total of nearly 1.9 million acres.

In the Oct. 12 press release, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles encouraged Catholics to pray for those affected by the fire and for the first responders.

“Please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters caught in the Saddleridge fires and fires throughout Southern California,” said Gomez.

“We pray for the families who have lost their homes and those who have been evacuated, and all those who are still in danger. We pray especially for firefighters, police and others working to keep people safe and put these fires out. May Our Blessed Mary be close to all of them.”

 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/in-face-of-california-fire-la-archdiocese-expands-fund-for-victims-94314