Our call to be beacons of hope


By Barb Arland-Fye

Newborn Aya’s bright eyes gaze at whoever is taking her photograph in a hospital in earthquake-ravaged Turkey. Freshly bathed and resting in an incubator, the newborn bears telltale traces of her miraculous rescue from the rubble. You can see small cuts on her forehead and an arm. On her bare tummy is the stump of her umbilical cord. Hours earlier, rescuers found the newborn still attached to the once life-giving cord that connected her to her mother, who was dead in the ruins of their home as were Aya’s father and four siblings (https://tinyurl.com/mr2h6k2j). In the midst of the dark devastation, a tiny beacon of God’s hope beams through the darkness. Our task, as the family of God, is to become beacons of hope to the people of Turkey and Syria, staggering under the weight of their enormous loss.

The death toll in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquakes and their aftershocks now exceeds 33,000, with tens of thousands injured and countless more people without homes. The first of the two quakes (7.8 magnitude, followed later that day by a 7.7 magnitude quake) was the worst to strike Turkey this century, Catholic Relief Services said. Connected to the people of Turkey and Syria as children of the same God, we need to reach out to them with our resources — particularly prayer and financial assistance.

Our approaching Lenten season is a time to intensify our practices of prayer, almsgiving and fasting to guide our journey to become better versions of ourselves as Christ’s followers, committed to bringing hope to the world and responding to basic human needs. During his general audience Feb. 8, Pope Francis asked the gathering — truly all of us — to pray for our brothers and sisters in central Turkey and northwest Syria so that they can go forth in the face of this tragedy. Let us “ask Our Lady to protect them” (CNS, Feb. 9).


Bishop David J. Malloy, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, urges us “to give to Catholic Relief Services (crs.org) and Catholic Near East Welfare (cnewa.org) to support their efforts to provide humanitarian relief” (OSV News, Feb. 8).

CRS, the overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in the U.S., is collecting funds to assist its local partners, Caritas Turkey and Caritas Syria, particularly in Aleppo and Lattakia, Syria, where extensive damage has been reported. “For Syrians, the damage took place in areas already devastated by years of war. In Turkey, the airports and the high roads of Anatolia are closed and most hospitals are unusable. Schools have been closed across the country,” CRS said on its website. To donate, go to (https://support.crs.org/donate/earthquakes).

CNEWA is an agency of the pope that “provides funds to ensure the Eastern churches, and the devoted religious sisters who run the clinics, schools and other social services for the common good, have the resources to conduct their vital work,” according to its website. CNEWA is assisting on-the-ground partners in Syria and Turkey “to provide bedding, food, medicine, milk, nursing formula and diapers to more than 2,000 families seeking emergency shelter in stabilized convents, parish halls and schools.” To donate, go to (https://cnewa.org/work/emergency-syria/).

“Now is the time for compassion and solidarity,” Pope Francis tweeted Feb. 9. “We must put aside hatred, wars, and divisions that lead to self-destruction. Let us unite in our sorrow to help those who suffer in #Turkey and #Syria. May we build peace and fraternity in the world.”

We build peace and fraternity in the world through prayer; following the issues of our times locally, nationally and abroad; making financial donations within our means; and advocating on behalf of others, most immediately the people of Turkey and Syria. Let us call on our congressional delegation to ensure adequate international aid to give a hand up to the people of Turkey, Syria and countries in crisis around the globe. (Go to congress.gov and type in names of your representatives and Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst.)

Our response is an expression of gratitude for the beacons of hope, like newborn Aya, that break through the darkness to show us that God is in our midst. We, too, become beacons of hope.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on