Statement of Bishop Anthony: NSW bushfires

18/10/2013

Statement of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP to the Faithful of Parramatta concerning the NSW bushfires, Friday 18 October 2013

My Dear People,

In recent days, bushfires have devastated areas of our state. The estimated number of houses lost is now in the hundreds, fire-fighters have suffered injury and a Central Coast man has died trying to save his home. More fatalities may yet be discovered. Areas hardest hit include the Blue Mountains Parish of Springwood, in our own Diocese. The fires appear to have already damaged the perimeter of and continue to threaten our schools there, St Thomas Aquinas Primary and St Columba’s High School. Elmhurst, the original homestead at the St Columba’s Seminary, has unfortunately been lost. Even more tragically, some church workers have lost their homes.

I wish to thank the Rural Fire Service, NSW Police and all volunteers for their courageous efforts in protecting human life and property. 

I also want to recognise and thank Mr Sergio Rosato, Principal of St Thomas Aquinas, and Mr Phil Stewart, Acting Principal of St Columba’s and all the staff for helping ensure the safety of the school children. Thank you for supervising them well into the night. The Diocese will be doing everything that it can to assist the wider community in relief efforts.

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEO) & CatholicCare Social Services are providing counselling services for affected families and staff (Ph: 9933 0233). The CEO has provided emergency relief for staff in need. The St Vincent de Paul Society Vinnies shop at Springwood can assist families with food, bedding and clothing to provide immediate relief.

Today, Vinnies NSW has launched a St Vincent de Paul Society NSW Bushfire Appeal to aid communities in their long term recovery. To donate to the Appeal, please visit www.vinnies.org.au, or call 13 18 12. I ask the Catholic community to give generously to this appeal. The Diocese also plans to launch a crisis appeal next week to help those families in need. More details will be provided when they are at hand.

Times of great difficulty are often also times of great solidarity. As we grieve over loss of life and property, we come together to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray that the fires soon abate and that God is with those most in need in these troubling circumstances. I assure you of my prayers for the victims and their loved ones, and all the affected communities.

Yours sincerely in the Good Shepherd,
 
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Bishop of Parramatta


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