Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Walla Walla parishes kick off relief collection for storm victims in Guatemala Mission

by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the July 1, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Farmers know how disastrous it can be to suffer the loss of a crop that is counted upon for the annual support of their families. Perhaps that is why parishes in Walla Walla were the first to respond with an unsolicited $1,000 check for financial help to victims of the storm that ravaged the Spokane Mission area in Guatemala on May 29.

Besides damage to crops and stored food supplies by Tropical Storm Agatha, a falling boulder shaken loose by an earthquake has destroyed much of the trout hatchery. The Rotary Club Spokane Aurora Northwest has donated $500 toward the purchase of trout eggs to replace those lost with the destruction of the ponds, but first the ponds must be repaired – if indeed they can be repaired. (IR photo courtesy of the Guatemala Commission)

Tropical Storm Agatha killed more than 140 people in Central America and brought widespread damage in the Spokane Mission area of the Highlands. Sisters Immaculata Burke and Marie Tolle, whose convent is located in Novillero, have reported on extensive damage to roads, homes, crops, and food supplies.

Heavy rains broke through the InterAmerican Highway in several places, and swept some area homes down the steep mountainsides. The rushing waters washed out much of this year’s corn crop, which was only a few inches high at the time. For many residents, the water also flooded the corn that they had stored from last year’s harvest.

Corn is the main source of food for nearly all families in the mission area. Thus, the loss of food in the present, and uncertainty of future supply, is especially painful for large families of the region. Some help has arrived from the Caritas organization, which is feeding some families at the nearby Our Lady of the Highway school. However, more extensive and longer lasting help is urgently needed.

Last November, Spokane and Sololá/Chimaltenango celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the relationship that the two dioceses have enjoyed. Bishops Skylstad (Spokane) and de Villa (Guatemala) have more recently corresponded regarding how Spokane can best assist in the Spokane Mission area at this time.

In response to the need, a plea for funds to purchase corn for the people is being issued to all parishes of the Diocese of Spokane. Parishes and individuals that can help are asked to send their one-time checks to the Guatemala Commission Relief Effort, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210. Please mark the checks “Agatha Storm Relief.”

(Jerry Monks is a member of the diocese’s Guatemala Commission.)

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