I would like to provide an update on the relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which is so dear to the hearts of many New Yorkers.
One of our reasons for concern is the damage and hurt suffered by the families of the Head Start programs run by the New York Foundling at 41 sites throughout the island of Puerto Rico. I know of the dedicated work being done by the leadership of the New York Foundling in NY, especially William Baccaglini, Jr. and Carmen Jirau-Rivera, to support these families. These efforts will continue for many years.
I was able to join Cardinal Dolan a few weeks ago to visit and show solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico. This very brief trip, captured in the recent issue of Catholic New York, included a stop at the offices of Caritas Puerto Rico to learn of the work they are doing to provide relief throughout the country. We were told that Caritas Puerto Rico was singled out by FEMA for their efforts because they are the only aid organization reaching out to all 75 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities. Fr. Enrique Camacho, the Executive Director of Caritas Puerto Rico and his staff are proving extraordinary service.
This Sunday, November 19th, the Mass of Our Lady of the Divine Providence, Patroness of Puerto Rico, will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m. at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
A special commemoration will be offered for the people of Puerto Rico who are currently suffering the effects of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Fr. Enrique Camacho will serve as the celebrant and homilist of the Mass.
The numbers of persons displaced from Puerto Rico are hard to estimate. We do know that in the past month, more than 1,100 families displaced have sought services at the New York City Reception Center that Catholic Charities has been staffing, along with City agencies.
Catholic Charities has provided gifts cards, food, metro cards, and counseling on the services available to those relocating to New York City. A very high priority is ensuring adequate housing for those unable to stay with family or friends.
Through the generosity of numerous donors, Catholic Charities has already been able to provide funds to both Caritas Puerto Rico and the New York Foundling for their relief efforts. We anticipate providing additional funds shortly.
We have also partnered with the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Comité Noviembre to serve as a conduit for their Estoy Con Puerto Rico campaign. I intend to accompany this group, along with few other Catholic Charities staff, in early December to visit the distant towns of Puerto Rico and make sure aid is reaching those hard to reach areas.
I ask that you keep the wonderful people of Puerto Rico in your prayers,