Florida Dioceses Reach Out to Hard-hit Mississippi

Biloxi and Jackson «Adopted» Amid Relief Efforts

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 13, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The seven dioceses and related Catholic Charities offices in Florida have adopted the two dioceses in Mississippi to help provide ongoing relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami and Catholic Charities of the Dioceses of Venice and Pensacola and the Florida Catholic Conference have been onsite in Mississippi since Sept. 5, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Catholic Charities in Florida is providing the technical assistance, staffing and infrastructure in the Biloxi Diocese for disaster relief efforts.

Meanwhile, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has asked two archbishops to be his liaison with the prelates of all the dioceses damaged by the hurricane.

Bishop William Skylstad, president of the episcopate, said Monday that he has asked Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza and Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory to be his contact with New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes and Mobile Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb and the other prelates.

Bishop Skylstad said that he was asking the two archbishops to take this role to assure that he is personally kept aware of the ways in which the U.S. bishops’ conference can best serve the needs of the affected dioceses over the long range.

Archbishop Fiorenza will relate primarily to Archbishop Hughes and the bishops of Louisiana and Archbishop Gregory to Archbishop Lipscomb and the bishops of Mississippi and Alabama.

Food drop-offs

The Florida dioceses and agencies are working in the dioceses of Biloxi and Jackson in the state of Mississippi.

In the Diocese of Biloxi, assessments have been made of the devastated areas. More than 5,000 food drop-offs to families have taken place in devastated areas of Biloxi and Gulfport.

Ten Catholic parishes have set up as distribution sites, receiving shipments of supplies for needy families. Those sites are in Biloxi, Gulfport, Columbia, Tylertown, Lucedale, Pascagoula, Wiggins, Delisle, Moss Point and Hattiesburg.

In the Diocese of Jackson, the local Catholic Charities have received help in coordinating relief efforts aimed at the 50,000-plus displaced residents now living in Jackson.

The Florida agencies are being assisted by the Diocese of Mobile, Alabama, which has provided Florida staff with overnight accommodations in the Seton Retreat Center. Each morning the staff travels over one hour to Biloxi.

Catholic Charities USA provided initial grants to Jackson and Biloxi dioceses of $110,000 each and will be providing additional financial support as the recovery efforts continue.

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