In a letter to the Adelaide Archdiocese on January 3, Administrator Delegate Fr Philip Marshall said people were experiencing “enormous struggle and distress” as a result of the bushfires around South Australia and Australia.
“In our own Archdiocese many of our parishes and fellow parishioners have experienced terrible loss of property and home, and the anxiety of protecting their families and their remaining homes and property into the future,” he wrote.
“Parishes that have been affected already include the Adelaide Hills parish, Gawler parish, Kangaroo Island parish, Mallee Border parish, Mount Barker parish, Mt Gambier parish, Noarlunga Downs and Willunga, and Yorke Peninsula parish.
“In light of this, and with Bishop O’Kelly’s support, I am inviting all of our diocesan family, throughout this fire season, to pray for those who have been or will be affected by fire, for those who are risking their lives to combat the fire, and for those who in a myriad of ways are supporting communities and those who have endured the anguish of fire.
“Through this fire season I invite every parish to include the (bushfire) prayer (see below) as part of each parish Mass and gathering.”
Fr Marshall also invited all parishioners to contribute to the collection for fire victims that has been established by the St Vincent de Paul Society.
“Please note that 100 per cent of donations will go to victims. Please donate via www.vinnies.org.au/SABushfireAppeal
“Parishes that would like envelopes to assist with donations please contact the St Vincent de Paul office on phone 08 8112 8700. Counselling or debriefing for individuals or families affected by fire will always be available through Centacare. The contact number is 08 8215 6700.”
Finally, Fr Marshall invited those parishes that have experienced fire to collect ashes from the fire which may be used for the approaching Ash Wednesday liturgies as a “symbol of our diocesan solidarity with all who have suffered”.
“Parishes who choose could then collect and use the ashes for their liturgies. Arrangements for the collection and distribution of ashes will be determined later,” he said.
In closing, Fr Marshall thanked everyone for the “support and care” already being offered and expressed his admiration for “all those who are volunteering to fight the fires and to support communities”.
“May God bless every one of you as we move through this terrible season toward Lent and Easter hope,” he said.
You breathe life into all things and make them holy, and we thank you.
Our land, our people, our fauna are suffering and we pray for rain. Please soak our land.
We pray for those who are enduring unimaginable injury and loss through fire. Bless them with deep comfort, consolation and hope.
We pray for our heroic fire fighters. Cover them with your protection and bless them and their families.
We pray for our leaders. Inspire them with courage and wisdom needed for this time.
Your people look to you with trusting hearts and the certainty of your love.
With deep gratitude and longing, we ask you to hear our prayer. Amen.
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