Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Beyond the Zombie Apocalypse: A Catholic perspective

by Dr. Jonas Hiner, for the Inland Register

(From the January 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

The St. John Vianney Parish Knights of Columbus in Spokane Valley organized another family preparedness seminar last November. From left: Father Kenny St. Hilaire, Simone Ramel-Mckay, Grand Knight Steve Hammond, and Sonia Flores-Davis. (IR photo courtesy of Dr. Jonas Hiner)

In year two of the St. John Vianney Knights of Columbus seminar series “Charity Begins at Home: Protecting Your Family and Neighborhood,” we decided to address a question that arose from the three seminars we offered in our first year series: namely, can a parish-based Knights of Columbus council offer to the members of the parish and the diocese, and the community at large, something meaningful and useful about emergency preparedness, the main focus of our first year, that isn’t already being offered by some other organization?

We succeeded in our first year in raising the issue of the importance of protecting our families and our neighborhoods by focusing on the traditional Catholic view that charity does begin at home. After all, the basic building block, not only of society, but also of the Church, is the family. But where do we go from here? If we emphasize theology, we might interest some folks interested in the roots of our faith. And if we are too fanciful about the challenges facing families in today’s world, we might attract a few light-hearted Zombie Apocalypse devotees, or perhaps some doomsday fear-mongers from the political left and right.

The answer came when we realized that, while there are many excellent courses on emergency preparedness offered by organizations like the American Red Cross in our region, there is no program currently available that is designed as a starter program for ordinary people, and is free of charge – with one exception.

The Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort (SCOPE), a not-for-profit 501(c)3, charitable organization that supports the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department with a myriad of volunteer services, offers a free program to the public called Neighborhood Watch. Our council decided to informally partner with SCOPE to offer a free-of-charge emergency preparedness program in three seminar installments that would provide hands on training with a Catholic perspective to interested individuals and families in our parish and the surrounding community. The introductory seminar, Nov. 3, attracted 42 people.

We were pleased to have Bishop Thomas A. Daly provide a written endorsement of our training program. Bishop Daly’s endorsement was read by Steve Hammond, the Grand Knight of the parish’s Knights Council, to begin the seminar. Father Kenny St. Hilaire, the KC’s Washington State Council chaplain and pastor of the parishes in Odessa, Ritzville, and Wilbur, was our first presenter. He gave an inspiring reflection on the spirituality of the family and community by focusing on the Holy Trinity, as a community of Divine Persons, whose reality is reflected in every aspect of creation and the Church.

Father St. Hilaire was followed by Sonia Flores-Davis, principal of St. John Vianney School, who spoke from the heart about the importance of fostering resiliency in children when the unexpected happens, both in the family and at school, by treating us to a brief autobiographical sketch of her own Catholic upbringing in a military family that was based all over the world.

Our main presenter, Simone Ramel-McKay, is the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for SCOPE and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. She gave a one-hour overview of all of the emergency preparedness programs in place on the federal, state, county and municipal levels, and how individual families and neighborhoods can benefit from these resources to live safer, healthier and more secure lives, if they are willing to take the step to become the “first first responders” – that is, to become families who are preparing themselves for the unexpected natural and man-made disasters that occur, even including the historic windstorm that created havoc the area two weeks later.

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