Mourning, prayer and determination to rebuild follow devastating tornadoes


MAYFIELD, Ky. (CNS) – Mourning, prayer and determination to rebuild shattered lives, homes and businesses in Mayfield followed one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history that wiped out the town of 10,000 in western Kentucky on the night of December 10.

Bluegrass state was hit hardest as numerous devastating tornadoes swept through it and its neighboring states of Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, leveling entire communities.

As of early December 13, at least 34 people had died, but rescue efforts were still underway in Mayfield and elsewhere.

Twenty of those who perished were in Kentucky, and six died when a roof collapsed in an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.

As members of two of Mayfield’s religious congregations gathered to pray on December 12 amid the rubble – piles of bricks, metal and glass – prayers for their town and all those touched by the fierce Mid-December tornadoes came from afar, including Pope Francis and the American Catholic Bishops, and from close to home – Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro, whose diocese covers western Kentucky .

A papal telegram transmitted by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis “was saddened to learn of the devastating impact of tornadoes” in the Midwest and South.

“He offers sincere prayers that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died, comfort to those who mourn their loss and strength to all those touched by this immense tragedy,” he said. he declares.

“With his gratitude for the tireless efforts of rescuers and all those caring for the injured, grieving families and the homeless, Pope Francis calls on all those engaged in the massive work of relief and reconstruction of the gifts of strength and generous perseverance from the Lord in the service of their brothers and sisters ”, indicates the telegram that Cardinal Parolin sent to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio in the United States.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, president of the USCCB Committee on Homeland Justice and Development human, said the destruction and devastation was “heartbreaking” and called for prayer and assistance for all who were on the path of storms.

“During this season of Advent when we await with joy the birth of our Lord, we pray for those who have been wounded, for those who have lost their lives and for their families and communities in mourning”, declared the Archbishops Gomez and Coakley. “May those who have been affected by these storms find peace, comfort and hope in our faith and in the infinite love of God.

“We also pray for emergency responders and those who have started responding to the needs of affected people in these communities as part of the recovery efforts,” they said in a statement released in late December. “We entrust all our brothers and sisters in danger to our Blessed Mother, and we ask for her continued protection and intercession to comfort those who are suffering.

Both prelates urged Catholics and all people of good will to donate to recovery efforts and financial assistance for tornado victims by supporting the work of Catholic Charities USA: https: //www.catholiccharities. us / campaign / ccusa-disaster-relief / c353051.

Bishop Medley, in a December 11 statement, called on the Catholic community in the diocese “to unite in prayer … for all the suffering caused by this catastrophe.”

He asked all parishes to organize a special collection on the weekend of December 11-12 to help victims of the tornado.

The bishop also took note of the leveling of the Mayfield candle factory, where 110 employees worked around the clock, which is customary during the Christmas season, according to reports.

Initially, city officials feared the death toll among factory workers could reach 70. At the end of December 12, a company official told reporters that eight workers had been confirmed dead and eight were still missing, but the rest had been counted.

“Many of those injured at the Mayfield Candle Factory were parishioners, and others represented migrants and marginalized in our communities,” Bishop Medley said in his statement.

He added that through its Catholic Charities office, the diocese planned to “offer immediate assistance and services” to those displaced by the tornado and / or in need of immediate emergency financial assistance.

“I am proud of the many ways in which your generosity still enables the Catholic Church to respond to suffering and to families in crisis,” said Bishop Medley. “So I thank you in advance for your generous response to this terrible devastation. God will bless our generosity.

In a December 12 tweet, Bishop Medley said he had visited the Catholic community at St. Joseph’s Church in Mayfield: “Fr. Eric Riley, the pastor, preached on Advent themes. and of Our Lady of Guadalupe, hope and joy. The neighboring Saint-Jérôme parish of Fancy Farm welcomed them.

During a December 12 media briefing in Mayfield, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear noted that a tornado had traveled 227 miles. “It didn’t take a roof, as we’ve seen in the past. I blew up the whole house. The people, the animals… have just disappeared.

“The very first thing we have to do is grieve together,” he said, “and we’ll do that before we rebuild together.”

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Copyright © 2021 Catholic News Service / United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


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