by Ed Wilkinson
While most of us have so many reasons to be thankful this year, some in our diocese continue to feel the effects of the poor economy, and now others have been ravaged by a killer storm named Sandy.
This year’s Bright Christmas Campaign, which is conducted every year by The Tablet, will pay special attention to the victims of Sandy, while remaining true to our purpose of helping the poor and needy at Christmas.
While some of the parishes battered by Sandy can be considered among the more financially sound of the diocese, the damage done by the super storm will have far-reaching effects that will tax their budgets for years. We will make sure that the children and families, who have been harmed, will not be forgotten at Christmas. Donations to Bright Christmas will allow pastors in those parishes to provide Christmas gifts to kids and perhaps even celebrate with a party or a Christmas meal for families. In some cases, parishioners who have been faithful contributors to Bright Christmas will become beneficiaries of others this year.
For more than 40 years, Tablet readers have been donating to our Bright Christmas program. What began by raising a few thousand dollars each year has grown into a drive that brings in more than $100,000 each year. We distribute that money to those parish leaders and diocesan agencies that request help. This year, we will add those special donations to areas hit by Sandy.
Requests already are piling up on my desk. Like this note from Father Claudio Antecini, pastor of Visitation parish in Red Hook: “We have several families in Red Hook that truly are desperate and need money for food and clothing and perhaps some gifts. The Bright Christmas Fund will truly help financially with their burdens.” And that was before the storm rolled through the neighborhood and flooded private homes and the church. Two weeks after the storm, some of the public housing there still had no electricity.
From East New York, Father Jose Carlos da Silva, pastor of St. Rita’s parish, writes, “We have three communities, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Many of our children would not have if we didn’t provide for them. We would like to give them a Christmas party with gifts.”
And Sister Maryellen Kane, C.S.J., parish life coordinator at St. Mary Magdalene parish in Springfield Gardens, writes: “Economic conditions have left a number of our people with young children out of work at the moment. Hurricane Sandy has made their situation and those of other families even more difficult. Just today, I heard from three families who live in basement rental apartments who have lost everything due to flooding. I would use the Bright Christmas Fund to provide gifts for these struggling families this Christmas.”
To participate, you can send a donation to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.