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IMAGE: CNS photo/Terray Sylvester, Reuters

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- By midday Nov. 16 firefighters had gained more ground in trying to contain the Camp Fire in Northern California, which is north of Sacramento and one of the deadliest blazes in the state.

The same day in Southern California...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Terray Sylvester, Reuters

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- By midday Nov. 16 firefighters had gained more ground in trying to contain the Camp Fire in Northern California, which is north of Sacramento and one of the deadliest blazes in the state.

The same day in Southern California, more residents displaced by Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles were being allowed to return to their homes. Both fires started Nov. 8, but authorities have not determined the cause.

Fueled by low humidity and strong winds, the Camp Fire has destroyed over 11,000 buildings across over 140,000 acres. The entire population of Paradise, about 30,000, were forced to evacuate Nov. 9; the town was destroyed. The death toll stands at 66 and at least 631 people are missing.

"The tremendous loss from the Camp Fire ravaging parts of the diocese is devastating," said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento. "The families in Paradise and the surrounding communities affected by the fire can rely on the support of our prayers.

"We also pray for the brave men and women responding to this disaster and battling the fires," he added in a statement posted on the diocesan website, www.scd.org. "May all those who have died in this catastrophic inferno be granted eternal repose in the merciful hands of the Lord Jesus."

Bishop Soto was to celebrate Mass Nov. 18 at St. John the Baptist Parish in downtown Chico for all those affected by the Camp Fire. He especially invited the community of St. Thomas More Parish in Paradise; their church was in the direct line of fire.

Many of St. Thomas' parishioners have lost their homes. The Sacramento Diocese has confirmed that church and school buildings have survived the fire. The new rectory, old rectory and parish hall were destroyed.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Northern Valley Catholic Social Service were working with partner organizations on local relief and recovery efforts. Donations can be made through the Sacramento Diocese by visiting www.scd.org/donate (choose the Fire Assistance Fund).

In a Nov. 14 statement, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez asked all people of faith and goodwill to join him in offering prayers and support for everyone affected by the fires in Southern California.

"The devastation of the wildfires continues throughout our state. We need to keep praying for those who have lost their lives and their homes and livelihoods, and for all the men and women fighting the fires," said Archbishop Gomez.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has started a fund to help the victims of these fires. Donations can be made at www.archla.org/fires.

"These funds will assist families within our parish communities in their recovery efforts," he said.

The archdiocese of Los Angeles has been providing support to the communities affected by the fires through Catholic Charities of Los Angeles and local parishes and schools.

As of Nov. 16, these are the facts about each of the fires, according to Cal Fire and local officials:

-- Northern California: Camp Fire, Butte County: 142,000 acres burned; 45 percent contained; 63 fatalities confirmed; and 11,862 structures destroyed (including homes).

-- Southern California: Woolsey Fire, Los Angeles County, Ventura County: 98,362 acres burned; 69 percent contained; three fatalities confirmed; and 616 structures destroyed, 57,000 in danger.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: November 16, 2018, 10:38 pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Arlington Catholic Herald files

By Ann M. Augherton

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Picture the first Thanksgiving: a community coming together, one person bringing the fowl, another the bread, others sharing the fruits of their harvest, all gathering for a meal. The gratitude palpable for...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Arlington Catholic Herald files

By Ann M. Augherton

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Picture the first Thanksgiving: a community coming together, one person bringing the fowl, another the bread, others sharing the fruits of their harvest, all gathering for a meal. The gratitude palpable for a plentiful harvest, for family and friends, for the opportunity to rest, reflect and break bread with others.

For the past 34 years, the Edward Douglass White Knights of Columbus Council in Arlington has hosted Thanksgiving for folks in the community who might need a little help or a little company.

Similar to an Amish barn-raising, the community comes together to provide turkey and all the trimmings, but with a side of organizing buses to pick up the dinner guests, gathering donated paper products and vegetables, and scheduling an army of volunteers to cook, carve and carry the meals to the homebound.

What started with a handful of turkeys and 200 recipients has grown to feeding 2,500 with any number of donated turkeys. Marijo Galvin, Thanksgiving coordinator with her husband, Thom, says "any number" because they never know how many turkeys will show up.

For their 11th year overseeing the effort, they expect about 200 turkeys -- fully cooked, unstuffed and at least 20 pounds -- to be dropped off at the council home in Arlington from Nov. 19 through Nov. 21. A team of carvers will pull the birds from the huge walk-in freezers and start their work in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

Only between 200 and 300 diners will come to the council home for the afternoon meal. Hundreds of other meals will be delivered by a team of volunteers. Marijo said a former postal worker has arranged the deliveries by location to facilitate the process. The first delivery goes out at 9 a.m.

"We cover Meals on Wheels clients, Arlington Adult Services and several apartment complexes with low-income residents," Marijo told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

Runners, another vital team, will pick up the elderly or disabled and bring them to the council home for the big feast, often eating with them, and then driving them home a couple of hours later.

Marijo mentions some of the key players in the community who support this huge effort, including Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, which donates use of its school buses, and the Jhoon Rhee martial arts school, which frees up its vans, and other bus companies that bring guests from two locations in the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network and from a nearby neighborhood.

St. Agnes Church in Arlington is on pie duty this year. Ruth Foster, the volunteer coordinator or "Pie Lady," said she ordered 225 pie tins and an equal number of shallow and deep pie boxes. The tins have been sitting on a table in the narthex of the church waiting for volunteer bakers.

Her goal is to get at least 150 pies back, 120 earmarked for the Knights' Thanksgiving dinner and 30 for Christ House, an outreach for people in need.

When people tell her that they've never made a pie, she tells them to "go to the store, pick up the refrigerated dough, roll it out, follow the directions, make up the stuff, put it in the oven and wait until it comes out."

Ruth's favorite is pecan pie. Her secret? "The key to a pecan pie is the temperature at which you cook it. It's a longer process, slower, at a lower temperature." She likens the filling to a custard. "When the center sets up, it's done."

The night before Thanksgiving, Marijo, her husband and two other volunteers go to a local German bakery, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe in Arlington, to pick up any leftovers, usually breads, pies and desserts. Marijo joked that she thinks the owner bakes too much so they have enough to donate to the Knights.

"Back in the day, the entire community jumped in and tried to do something," said Marijo. That's where the scene of that first Thanksgiving, legend or legit, calls to mind a spirit of giving and gratefulness.

Marijo said financial donations are also needed to offset the costs of the endeavor, which include the rental of food warmers, and the side dishes, aka the trimmings.

The day wraps up as the pie crumbs are swept from the floor about 6 p.m. Any food leftovers are shared with several local shelters.

Marijo is undaunted at the task ahead. "I love the people. I love talking to the people. They are grateful, but they don't understand how grateful I am to them for the joy the give me."

She added quickly, "It helps you remember how lucky you are."

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Augherton is managing editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: November 16, 2018, 4:45 pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yahya Arhb, EPA

By Dale Gavlak

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic and international aid organizations are pressing for an end to Yemen's worsening war, where the United Nations says one child dies every 10 minutes.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, called Yem...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yahya Arhb, EPA

By Dale Gavlak

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic and international aid organizations are pressing for an end to Yemen's worsening war, where the United Nations says one child dies every 10 minutes.

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, called Yemen "the world's worst humanitarian disaster in 100 years." Half of Yemen's 28 million people are on the brink of starvation and the country is suffering from the worst cholera epidemic in modern history.

"The humanitarian disaster in Yemen is of horrific proportions," Kevin Hartigan of Catholic Relief Services told Catholic News Service, describing the crisis erupting in the impoverished nation at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula which is embroiled in a nearly four-year-old conflict.

"More certainly needs to be done to assist a population that is on the brink of starvation, and we intend to expand our response with the generous support of Catholics in the United States," said Hartigan, the agency's regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Meanwhile, CRS continues to support its partner, Islamic Relief of Yemen, while working to establish a presence in the country, Hartigan added. Its support has included funding and technical assistance in response to the cholera epidemic and providing emergency relief in the besieged humanitarian port city of Hodeida.

Recent fighting between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels occupying Hodeida and government militias supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatens to push the country into a full-blown famine. Up to 85 percent of food passes through the Hodeida port.

"Yemen has become a hell on earth for millions of children," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. More than 400,000 children are starving and another 1.5 million are acutely malnourished and need aid to survive, he said.

"Today every single boy, every single girl in Yemen is facing extremely dire needs," Cappelaere recounted after a visit to children in hospitals there earlier this month.

"We met with Adam, Abdulqudus, Sara, Randa and others. Each time I name them, I see the images clearly of them lying in their beds, Cappelaere recently told reporters. "Some of them (are) supported by their families. Some of them (are) just lying on their own, with hardly anybody to support them."

Aid workers report rising numbers of internally displaced Yemeni civilians. Often they live on breadcrumbs and leaves. Medics have said the number of deaths linked to food-related factors is spiraling.

"We see immense suffering in the faces of children whose young lives have been stunted by malnutrition, and the agony of their parents who can only watch their children waste away," said Giovanna Reda, head of Middle East humanitarian programs for CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

CAFOD was among nine agencies Nov. 14 calling on British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to do more to bring an immediate end to the conflict and to "urge parties to the conflict to end violations against civilians."

Hunt visited Saudi officials Nov.12 urging them not to risk a humanitarian disaster in pursuit of military victory. As many as 150 people had been killed in air raids on Hodeida in the previous 24 hours, according to news reports.

"A comprehensive cease-fire across the country is urgently needed now, to halt the suffering of millions of people," Reda told CNS.

"Humanitarian access is vital to reach vulnerable families on the brink of famine. ... Any disruption of (Hodeida) port's operation will severely affect our ability to get emergency aid to where it is needed most," Reda said.

Signatories to the appeal included CARE International UK, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee and Norwegian Refugee Council.

Pope Francis repeatedly has urged the international community to make every effort to end the Yemeni crisis.

"I'm following with concern the dramatic fortune of the people of Yemen, now extreme following years of conflict," he said in June. "I call for the international community to not withhold efforts and to join all parties involved for negotiations, so the tragic humanitarian situation doesn't worsen even more."

Washington, however, continues to sell billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia. Until early November, the U.S. also helped to refuel Saudi planes used in bombing raids in Yemen. The U.S. and Great Britain pressed Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the war against the Houthi rebels Nov. 12.

The U.N. reported Oct. 24 that at least 6,660 Yemeni civilians have been killed and 10,560 injured in the war. The fighting and a partial blockade of the Hodeida port have left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The cholera outbreak has affected 1.1 million people.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: November 16, 2018, 4:06 pm