To all the Visitors and Vice-Visitors of the Congregation of the Mission
May the grace and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts now and forever!
The people of Haiti call out to us.
Thousands are suffering from the 7.0 earthquake that struck their homeland this week. Among the suffering are our own confreres, the Daughters of Charity, and the Vincentian Family in general. The six confreres stationed in Haiti have survived the earthquake uninjured, and there has been no serious damage to our two community houses, including the seminary. The Visitor of Puerto Rico reported the sad news that one Daughter of Charity died as a result of the earthquake and another was injured. The provincial house of the Daughters was also completely destroyed. Families of our confreres have also lost their homes.
I am writing now to share the reflections from the General Council meeting this morning. The purpose of the meeting was to put some order in to our response to this situation. We recognize that there are immediate needs calling out to us and that there are intermediate and long-term needs to be met as the country seeks to reconstruct itself. In this letter we are focusing only on the immediate needs. The intermediate and long-term needs will be an agenda item at the upcoming meeting of the heads of the Vincentian Family. An opportunity has presented itself for the Vincentian Family to come together in a common effort on behalf of the poor.
The Curia this morning made an initial commitment to contribute 25.000 USD toward the purchase of items urgently needed. We are sending the money to the Province of Puerto Rico, since they are already organizing storage centers for supplies to be handed over to the Daughters and the confreres. They will deliver these goods by traveling across Haitiâ€™s border with the Dominican Republic.
The Curia has received inquiries from individual confreres and from provinces as to how they might respond to the situation. Our preference, in the interest of tracking donations from the Congregation, is that contributions either be sent directly to the Curia or that Visitors direct the Econome General to withdraw money from their respective accounts at the Curia. All contributions will then be wire transferred from the Curia to Puerto Rico, even on a daily basis, if required.
I thank all of you for your expressions of solidarity with the people of Haiti. Even in their sufferings may our prayers sustain them in knowing that God is still with them!
Your brother in St. Vincent
G. Gregory Gay, C.M.