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Diocese of Parramatta Bushfire Appeal


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Monday 21 October 2013

The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta has launched an emergency appeal to assist people who have been impacted by the New South Wales bushfires. More than 200 homes have been lost or damaged and one person has died.

Pope Francis has expressed his concern to the people of NSW and sent them his blessing.

The NSW Government has declared a state of emergency. Parishes in the Blue Mountains Deanery in the Diocese of Parramatta are under threat from a fire that forced the evacuation of students at St Thomas Aquinas Primary and St Columba’s High School in Springwood parish last week.

Elmhurst, the original homestead at the old St Columba’s Seminary, has been destroyed and some Church workers and parishioners have lost their homes.

Donations to the emergency appeal can be made through CatholicCare Social Services Parramatta:

In a statement to the faithful, the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, praised the courageous efforts of the Rural Fire Service, NSW Police and volunteers for their work in protecting human life and property.

“I also want to recognise and thank Mr Sergio Rosato, Principal of St Thomas Aquinas Primary, and Mr Phil Stewart, Acting Principal of St Columba’s High School, and all the staff for helping to ensure the safety of the school children,” Bishop Anthony said.

“Thank you for supervising them well into the night. The Diocese will be doing everything that it can to assist the wider community in relief efforts.”

Pope Francis has expressed his concern to the people of NSW affected by the bushfires in a message from the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin:

“His Holiness, Pope Francis, has asked me to express his concern for the people of New South Wales and all who are affected by devastation wrought by the extensive fires in the region.

“He prays especially for those who have died and for those who have lost their homes and workplaces, as well as for the numerous personnel working to combat the fires and to provide comfort and care for those who are suffering.

“Invoking the spiritual gifts of solidarity and perseverance upon the communities touched by these trying events, the Holy Father sends his blessing.”

Catholic Education Parramatta is providing emergency relief for staff. The St Vincent de Paul Society’s Vinnies shop at Springwood can assist families with food, bedding and clothing to provide immediate relief.

St Thomas Aquinas Primary and St Columba's High School will be closed until further notice. If supervision is needed, students from both schools can attend St Finbar's Primary, Glenbrook.

On Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October, St Columba's HSC students will sit their exams at McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains. Further advice will be posted for arrangements from Wednesday 23 October on the Catholic Education Parramatta website:

For information about CatholicCare Parramatta’s counselling services tel (02) 9933 0233.

To donate online to the disaster relief appeal click here.

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