5 ways we can show solidarity with Haiti

By | January 20, 2010

• Donate. Last weekend, U.S. parishes were asked to take a second collection to raise money for Catholic Relief Services. CRS, the U.S. church’s international relief and development agency, has been working in Haiti since 1954. CRS continues to take donations for Haiti. Online donations can be made by visiting this link.

If you’ve already made a donation, think about making a second one. You can be part of history by making a donation via cell phone text message.

According to the Web site TechCrunch, text donations to Haiti relief organizations have exceeded $20 million, with the American Red Cross the largest recipient of text donations. By texting “HAITI” to the number 90999, a $10 donation to the Red Cross is added to your cell phone bill and 100 percent of the donation is forwarded to the Red Cross. TechCrunch reports that text donations are available for 10 other relief organizations.

•Pray: In churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship last weekend, people of all faiths united to pray for the people of Haiti; for the dead, the injured and the missing. Special intentions at Masses were also offered across the Green Bay Diocese. Opportunities and resources for prayer are available in parishes, at the CRS Web site and other sites.

For example, Beliefnet, a spiritually based Web site, is promoting a “Halftime Prayer for Haiti,” a chance for Super Bowl fans to offer a prayer during halftime of the Feb. 7 football championship game. To learn more go to www.beliefnet.com.

•Fast: Fasting has traditionally been an act of reparation for people of faith. We Catholics use this practice during Lent to share in Christ’s suffering. Why fast? By denying ourselves one meal, we can offer up our hunger for the Haitians who experience it every day. The money we save by fasting can also be donated to CRS or other agencies assisting in Haiti.

As it turns out, fasting for Haiti is not an original idea. A Web site is already in existence. Interestingly, the campaign (and Web site) is coordinated by a Catholic youth minister, Chris Faddis. The Web site offers more suggestions for fasting.

•Educate: Now is a good time to learn more about Haiti, from its history to the circumstances that helped turn this nation on the island of Hispaniola into the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. By learning about Haiti’s history, complicated as it is, we can steer clear of myths perpetuated by people like TV evangelist Pat Robertson. He blamed Haiti’s troubles on the country’s founders, slaves who he said successfully rebelled against French colonists in the 1800s by making a pact with the devil.

Haiti is a predominately Catholic country. One of its recent presidents, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was at one time a Catholic priest. Religious educators can explore the country’s rich Catholic history and help future generations form strong ties with Haiti.

Catholic Relief Services has online resources for educators. These include prayer service handouts and lesson plans for middle and high school students. Downloadable materials are available at this link.

•Reach out: When we become passionate about a cause, we want to act. Here in northeastern Wisconsin, we are fortunate to have an organization of passionate people who serve Haiti’s poor. Friends of Haiti was begun in Green Bay in 2000 by Fr. Larry Canavera. The group sponsors medical mission trips to Haiti twice each year. What better way to learn about Haiti than by becoming a Friend of Haiti? According to Joan Hogan, representatives from the group are available to speak to church and school groups to raise awareness and funds for Haiti. For more information call Joan Hogan, (920) 336-5376, or Jackie Kucera, (920) 469-0024. You can also visit their Web site, www.friendsofhaiti-gb.com.

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