NEW YORK — The Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province and their partners-in-ministry have raised $220,000 to help Puerto Rico recover from the hurricanes that devastated the islands in September.
In an effort to alleviate the immense suffering that occurred following the storm, the Province launched a special relief fund for victims on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Holy Name Province has a strong connection with the islands – friars have served at several parishes there in the past, and the current archbishop of San Juan, Roberto González, OFM, is a member of Holy Name Province.
Approximately 100 donors – parishes, fraternities, other Franciscan communities, and entities, as well as individual friars and laypersons – contributed over the last month to the relief fund. Holy Name Province and St. John the Baptist Province, based in Cincinnati, donated $25,000 each.
“The response to the relief fund has been overwhelming, both from people who have family and friends in Puerto Rico as well as people who have no connection to the island but who have seen the devastation and felt the victims’ pain,” said David Convertino, OFM, executive director of development. “To go so long without basic necessities is heartbreaking. Hopefully, these funds will help alleviate the suffering that our sisters and brothers are experiencing.”
Some of the money will be given to Cáritas – the equivalent of Catholic Charities in the United States – for direct humanitarian assistance: water, food, medicine, clothing, and generators, while the remaining funds will be used throughout the archdiocese where the need is greatest.
Roberto expressed his deep gratitude to all those who donated.
“Hundreds of thousands of homes on the islands have been totally destroyed,” he said. “Half the hospitals have been destroyed. Many roads and bridges have collapsed. The situation is overwhelming and stunning. Yet, in the midst of this devastation, it is also overwhelming and deeply moving to observe the resilience of the people, so many gestures of charity and solidarity within families and among strangers – above all, a general spirit of hope and renewed faith. So many anonymous heroes serving their neighbors!
“My heart is also filled with joy by this gift of the Province and the people the friars serve whose generosity reflects their trust in and love for them,” added Roberto. “My deep gratitude goes to our Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, for this initiative and to all those who have participated.”
The stories from donors are touching, said David, who shared one of a group of friends who chose to forego Christmas presents this year so they could donate to the relief fund. In several of the Province’s parishes, the amount of money offered during the second collections for Puerto Rico exceeded amounts raised for other special collections in recent memory.
“Holy Name Province is deeply grateful to the many individuals who gave so much,” David said. “You truly have a Franciscan heart.”
The friars ask for continued prayers for the people of Puerto Rico and all those who have been affected by the recent hurricanes. Checks and donations of cash can be sent to Holy Name Province – Office of Development, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, New York 10001. All funds should be designated in the check memo for “Relief Fund for Puerto Rico.” Checks should be made payable to the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Province Launches Puerto Rico Relief Fund” – Oct. 11, 2017, HNP Today
- “Puerto Rico’s Uncounted Hurricane Deaths” – Oct. 27, 2017, CNN
- “Amid Hurricane’s Devastation, Puerto Rican’s Spirit Seen Shining Through” – Oct. 27. 2017, National Catholic Reporter
- “Archbishop Roberto González Marks 25 Years as Bishop” – Oct. 9, 2013, HNP Today