Washington, DC — The Disaster Relief Committee of Catholic Charities USA is working with FADICA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in channeling relief to eight communities of sisters in New Orleans.
The new partnership follows a two-year effort by FADICA and the LCWR to work together to assist recovery efforts of New Orleans religious whose ministries and housing were severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina, one of the five deadliest storms in U.S. history.
Historically, two national, parish-based appeals were made by the American bishops to render assistance to the poor and to Gulf dioceses impacted by the storms of 2005.
The first appeal, taken up shortly after Katrina hit New Orleans, raised some $73 million in parish and diocesan donations. Proceeds were used primarily to assist the poor with food, shelter and counseling and administered through the Catholic charities network.
An additional $90 million in relief reached Catholic charities directly from individuals, foundations, religious orders, and corporations.
A second national appeal, made in August, 2006, raised $10.3 million and by-passed Catholic Charities USA, going directly to the New Orleans Archdiocese and the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, to help with costs associated with the rebuilding of damaged churches.
In October, 2006, members of FADICA and a delegation of Leadership Conference of Women Religious made parallel visits to New Orleans to assess the damage to the church’s ministry there.
Both groups were surprised to learn that religious communities were receiving only a tiny amount of aid from national church-sponsored appeals and resolved to work together to address the situation.
The combined effort of FADICA and the LCWR has been able to secure more than $4.4 million in new grants since 2006 to help pay the costs of cleaning and rebuilding the sisters’ schools, convents and other facilities destroyed or severely damaged.
On July 16th of this year FADICA and LCWR representatives, and the President of Catholic Charities, USA met in Washington to discuss the plight of women religious in New Orleans and to explore a collaborative partnership to restore their ministries to the poor there.
The FADICA/LCWR project has now been invited by the Disaster Relief Committee of Catholic Charities USA to prepare a major initiative that could award an additional $2 million in aid to benefit the social ministries of women religious to the poor of New Orleans later this month.