February 5, 2010

Indiana Knights / Robert Hartenstein

Indiana Knights of Columbus support survivors of Haitian earthquake

Members of the Indiana Knights of Columbus have joined with state and local councils from around the country, as well as Canada, in sending funds for Haitian earthquake relief.

Almost three weeks after the tragedy, $144,000 has been donated for the relief effort, and that figure is expected to increase. This number includes $50,000 from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in New Haven, Conn.

Catholic Relief Services has a large presence on the island nation. Churches have been destroyed in this mostly Catholic nation, and many priests—including Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince—were killed or injured in the earthquake. Roads, schools and hospitals have been destroyed. This very well may prove to be the most costly natural disaster in lives and property in the Western Hemisphere in the last 100 years. (Learn how to donate to Catholic Relief Services)

Hundreds of Catholic parishes from around the country have had long-standing relationships with Haitian parishes and continue to send aid. Members of the Indiana Knights of Columbus have also been actively supporting this relief effort.

In the past, we have responded after floods, tornadoes and ice storms here in Indiana without hesitation as well as assisting the victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast in 2005. We sent money and manpower to aid their rebuilding effort. It will take years to rebuild Haiti.

Indiana Knights might consider taking this tragedy and joining with Catholic Charities in providing foster homes or adopting Haitian children left without parents or a roof over their heads.

We often speak about pro-life issues and usually associate its mission with the protection of the unborn. Here is an opportunity for Indiana Knights to reach out in love to protect at-risk Haitian children. As the dust settles and the number of homeless is better understood, the need will be greater for agencies to offer services to protect these children.

We Knights stand for charity, unity and fraternity, and the most important of these attributes is charity. The needs of the Haitian people—food, shelter and health care—will be ongoing for a long time, and members of the Indiana Knights of Columbus need to stand tall and be all that we can be in helping this most impoverished nation.

Try to imagine no sanitation, no running water or no electricity. Your home is destroyed and what little possessions you have are gone. You face the possibility of malaria, cholera and other dangerous diseases. Phones don’t work, and roads are destroyed. You can’t get to work, and you can’t check on family members. Did I mention the rainy season is right around the corner?

Thank you, brother Knights, on behalf of the State Council, for all that you have done so far in relief efforts for Haiti. Keep up the badly needed prayers, and keep up the council involvement in this effort.

As the news begins to become background noise, we Indiana Knights must stay vigilant to the needs of the Haitian people.

(Robert Hartenstein is state communications director for the Knights of Columbus. He is a member of St. Joseph Hessen Cassel Parish in Fort Wayne, Ind.)

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