By Jim Wogan
Parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville collected $65,071.30 to benefit victims of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people, including a Catholic priest, injured at least 12,000, and left thousands more homeless when it struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti on Aug. 14.
“This was a special collection for people in need, and as always, our diocese responded quickly and with much compassion,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said. “I am grateful that parishioners heard and answered the call for assistance that I issued shortly after the earthquake struck. The people of Haiti have suffered in so many ways recently, and we are happy that we can help in this small but hopefully meaningful way.”
Bishop Stika announced the funds were sent directly to the Diocese of Les Cayes, located in a region that suffered extensive damage and loss of life.
Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries in the world and has tolerated natural and political disasters for decades.
Three days after the Aug. 14 earthquake, the country was hit by Tropical Storm Grace, which added further hardship for people who were left homeless in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Haiti has also faced ongoing political and social turmoil made worse since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Among those injured in the Aug. 14 earthquake was Cardinal Chibly Langlois, bishop of the Diocese of Les Cayes, and a recent visitor to the Diocese of Knoxville.
In a Nov. 17 letter to Bishop Stika, Cardinal Langlois extended his “deep gratitude” for the financial assistance.
“I welcome with great and deep gratitude this act of solidarity, generosity, and great charity on your part and that of all your Diocesans in favor of victims of the Diocese of Les Cayes. This donation will have helped to meet the greatest needs of the victims of my Diocese. I continue to count on your prayers for the recovery of Haiti and the dioceses affected by the earthquake. I assure you of my prayers and those of all the faithful of the Diocese of Les Cayes,” Cardinal Langlois said.
Cardinal Langlois celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in October 2019. He also met with Bishop Stika, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Father David Boettner, rector of the cathedral, and members of the cathedral’s Haiti outreach ministry.
“Our diocese, and especially the cathedral parish, has always had a close association with the people of Haiti, a nation that is very Catholic,” Bishop Stika said. “We are here to help all people in need, regardless of their religious beliefs, but our connection with Haiti is special and we continue to pray for all of the people living there.”