WASHINGTON (May 12, 2005)—Over $150 million has been given to Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief agency, to address the tsunami crisis which struck Southeast Asia less than five months ago.
The donations are believed to mark the most money ever collected by the church in a single appeal.
The figures included donations directly from 168 of the nation's 192 dioceses, eparchies, and territorial sees.
CRS, which made the figures public May 6, reported that more than $71 million came directly through dioceses and the rest directly from parish collections, individuals or through the CRS Web site. Dioceses which have not contributed their donations are expected to do so soon.
Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane (WA), president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), had urged parishes to take up the relief collection in the first two weeks of January, shortly after the tsunami struck in late December.
"I am proud of the generosity of our people," said Bishop Skylstad. "American Catholics are unlimited in their generosity to people in need."
Thirteen dioceses have given more than $1 million each to CRS' tsunami relief effort including the (Arch)Dioceses of Arlington (VA), Baltimore (MD), Boston (MA), Chicago (IL), Galveston-Houston (TX), Los Angeles (CA), Miami (FL), Milwaukee (WI), Philadelphia (PA), Pittsburgh (PA), Seattle (WA), St. Louis (MO) and St. Paul & Minneapolis (MN). When donations from other donors within each diocese are factored in, fifty dioceses have exceeded the $1 million level.
The outpouring of support for CRS' relief operations will enable the agency to support the recovery and rebuilding process in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand for the next 5 to 7 years. The monies collected will be used to reconstruct schools and education systems, provide long-term trauma counseling, reestablish agricultural and fishing industries, provide vocational training, rebuild homes and sanitation systems and distribute food and medicine.