By Kate Kosydar, Parish Social Ministry Coordinator
Disasters leave survivors with many critical needs (physical, psychological, etc.). Catholic parishes often find themselves at the center of the response and recovery effort – whether the church is ready or not!
Wouldn’t it be amazing for Catholic churches across the state to be ready? The Catholic community of West Virginia could offer the gift of security to individuals and families who are experiencing the chaos of a disaster.
The Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) team has years of experience managing long-term recovery efforts from a variety of disaster incidents. Long after first responders (like the Red Cross) have finished their service to a community, CCWVa Disaster Services continues to work with clients to facilitate rebuilding and recovery.
For this reason, our CCWVa Parish Social Ministry office is facilitating the development of parish disaster committees. We connect resources to needs. Having points of contact in communities around the state enables our agency to better serve our neighbors if – that is, when – a disaster strikes.
There are many forms that a disaster ministry can take. Some of the more common roles of a committee like this are:
- looking at what role the parish could play in future disasters based on its resources,
- planning and preparing for action when a disaster occurs, including identifying volunteers,
- developing communication strategies, and
- ensuring that the most vulnerable people in the parish/community are cared for when a disaster strikes
The immediate aftermath of a disaster is not the best time to start thinking about how a parish is able and willing to serve. Preparation is the key to mitigating loss and harm in the event of a disaster. Taking the time to think through your parish’s capacity and to formulate a plan will allow you to meet the needs of your parish, parishioners, and the wider community. Working with CCWVa gives you access to materials, training, and technical assistance as you perform this ministry. If you are ready to develop your parish disaster ministry, call us at 304.622.4532.