Saturday, August 20, 2016

First response

Last week when the apartment building exploded less than a mile from the rectory, I did not hear the explosion, or the sirens.  The next morning when I drove through the intersection of University Blvd with Piney Branch and saw the road closed, I assumed it was for roadwork.  I learned of the catastrophe only much later in the day when a parishioner asked whether there was anything we could do about it.
It takes some of the sting out of bad news when it reaches you because of good impulses.  In fact, most of the people who spoke to me about it did so with the desire to help those affected by it.  Of course I had other input: when I got home that evening, I ran into a police sergeant who had responded the night before when it happened.  Talk about bleary-eyed!  His shift had stayed on six extra hours, into the next morning. 
But none of it was morbid curiosity, and it was all remarkably free of the accusation or blame that so often accompanies any reportage of bad things happening to good people.  Now that I think of it, maybe that is because I heard it from individuals, not from any media outlet. 
In response to all the inquiries, people did the research and learned that what was needed at that stage was monetary donations; all the other material needs of the moment were well met by people and organizations who responded quickly with an outpouring of assistance. 
Since our Community Fund collection was already on the calendar for the weekend, I decided to designate the entire collection to assist those affected by the blast and fire.  I joked that the Allocation Committee, who considers needs and requests to the parish and designates the grants that are supported by the Community Fund, probably would not object to my executive decision.
So without any advance notice or preparation, because there was no time for any, and in the doldrums of summer when so many people are at the beach or in the mountains or in Europe or anywhere but in church, you managed to give $2,672.30, well over our average monthly Community Fund collection.
As I predicted, the Allocation Committee not offended, but did have a statement to make:  RuthAnn Arnsberger, the Chairman, insisted on adding to it from the Committee enough to round up to make it an even three thousand.  It will make a nicer check.
If you missed the basket or didn’t have a checkbook, feel free to send in your contribution.  We will doubtless have others, and gather them up and pass them on with love from the good folks of Saint Bernadette. 
But meanwhile, that is one big check I will be delighted to sign.  So, good work all around, and keep investigating.  There might be more we can do in the future, but your immediate response to immediate need was effective and genuine.  And your response is a perfect example of the power God has given us in Christ to respond to a terrible thing in a way that transforms it into a good and life-giving thing.  Praise God.

Monsignor Smith

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