November 30, 2017, San Turce, Puerto Rico – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), presented $3 million to help the local relief agency, Caritas, in its efforts to aid people affected by Hurricane Maria. During her visit, she took the opportunity to tour the devastation left by the hurricane.
“The situation is extremely dire,” especially for people who lived in wooden houses, which were destroyed, Sister Donna said. Along with the massive devastation, the ongoing power outage makes it impossible for people to cook.
“We’re trying to provide people with camping stoves, generators, water, and food – anything that will help them to survive.” She also believes that much of CCUSA’s funds will be spent to help find safe housing for the elderly and others who are vulnerable.
Sister Donna explained that, while she had traveled to Puerto Rico alone, case managers, disaster coordinators, and other CCUSA staff were already on the ground. CCUSA is the official disaster relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church.
CCUSA also worked with other organizations to offer support to the people of Puerto Rico. Home Depot helped with a grant to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to assist with rebuilding. The Houston Astros loaned CCUSA an airplane to fly supplies to Puerto Rico. “People have been very generous,” Sister Donna noted.
Sister Donna also hoped to visit the Virgin Islands, which was even harder hit than Puerto Rico. CCUSA has given the relief effort of the Virgin Islands $2 million in donations. In addition, $7 million in donations was given to the relief efforts in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and $6 million for efforts in Florida.
CCUSA has received much public support for its relief efforts, as well as its ongoing efforts to fight poverty and to “serve people in need, with special concern for those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” according to its website. The organization recently received a donation of $1,500 from students at Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Virginia, for relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
CCUSA has also received national recognition from NASDAQ. Charles C. Cornelio, Chair of the CCUSA Board of Trustees, was invited to ring the opening bell on Giving Tuesday, November 28.
November 17, 2017, Washington, D.C. – Four Adrian Dominican Sisters are among 162 Catholic leaders urging President Donald Trump and all Members of Congress to continue to help fund global efforts to address climate change.
Among the signatories of a letter initiated by the Catholic Climate Covenant are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation; Linda Bevilacqua, OP, President of Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida; Mary Margaret (Peg) Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan; and Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and a former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Barry University and Siena Heights University are sponsored institutions of the Congregation, which is based in Adrian, Michigan.
“We call on our government leaders to ensure that the United States does its part to help support the UN’s efforts to address global climate change,” Sister Patricia said. “As the world’s largest historic carbon emitter, we have a special responsibility when it comes to helping reduce and counter the effects of carbon pollution.”
The letter, dated November 16, 2017, calls on President Trump’s Administration and members of Congress to:
In the letter, the Catholic leaders affirm the Church’s longstanding commitment to care for creation and our poor and vulnerable neighbors, and reiterate the U.S. Catholic bishops’ call to act upon the widely accepted understanding of climate change science.
“Women religious are keenly aware of the threat climate change poses to God’s creation, especially to those who are most vulnerable,” said Sister Teresa Maya, CCVI, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. “We believe that we are called to live in right relationship with all of creation and we know that each of us has a responsibility to cooperate with God to protect our common home.”
Adrian Dominican Prioress Patricia Siemen affirmed that statement, noting, “As a Congregation ‘we are still in’ the Paris Agreement – taking steps to mitigate our own carbon footprint and to move towards a clean-energy future for the common good of people and planet.”