California Wildfires impact Diocese of Santa Rosa, Neighborhoods, Wineries

Northern California has been experiencing catastrophic damage from wildfires.  According to the Washington Post, 29 people have died and thousands have been displaced.  Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, and few of the fires are contained.  The fires have also destroyed wineries.  The destruction is likely to continue to grow for the forseeable future.

The diocese of Santa Rosa, California, has been in the heart of the damage.   Cardinal Newman High School, located in Santa Rosa, has seen significant damage, with half of the campus no longer standing. None of the building damage considers the tremendous amount of people who have been displaced. Numerous individuals have no homes to return to, and the Cathedral in Santa Rosa is among many places that are serving as emergency shelters.  New evacuation orders have been issued for additional locations.

The weather forecast is also not providing any comfort.  Red Flag warnings continue to be posted in areas already overwhelmed by existing wildfires.  The Weather Channel quoted fire chief Ken Pimlott that the “going to continue to get worse before it gets better.” With continued winds, low humidity and dry conditions, there does not appear to be an end in sight.

As persons of faith, the challenges of multiple disasters can be wearing.  But one thing that we are given to help us is the gift of our faith.  We can certainly continue to pray for those who have been impacted.  We offer a place to offer prayers for siutations, others, or yourself.  Going to our prayer submission website, or sending an email to can have your intentions offered twice a day, as well as allowing others to pray for you as well.

There are ways to provide donations to help those in need.  To see a list of specific opportunities where you can make donations, check our page for wildfire donations.

Ways to help those impacted by wildfires

Numerous people have been tremendously impacted by the wildfires in Northern California.  If you are looking to provide help, here are a few places to consider making a donation.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

Catholic Charities reaches out to those in need, offers hope through service, and builds better communities.  Catholic Charities is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving people of all faiths in the six counties of the Diocese of Santa Rosa – Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Del Norte. We touch the lives of over 76,000 men, women, and children from Sonoma to the Oregon border with more than 20 different programs of service.  You can make a donation specifically to fire recovery by accessing the Catholic Charities website.

Cardinal Newman High School

Cardinal Newman High School has seen almost half of its campus totally burned to the ground. Not only are there the challenges to the campus, but also for the teachers and families of the school. To help, you can access their donation page.

Justin Siena High School

Justin Siena High School in Napa, California, posted the following on their website.  “We appreciate the incredible outreach of support and prayers from near and far. We are still in the process of assessing the needs within our immediate community, and conditions in the area are still in flux.

We know that there are those in our community who need help and those who have help to give.

We know that there are members of our community who have lost much and who are still evacuated and unsure of the condition of their home or neighborhood. Many in our community, both near and far, have been asking about a way to assist. To help our affected students and teachers get back to class and a feeling of normalcy as quickly as possible we have created a relief fund. This idea began as a ground-swell effort by a couple of students, and we are grateful to them for their compassion and quick action.

The strength of our community is a blessing always and felt especially during these challenging times. Thank you for all the messages and prayers for support.”  Donations can be made by visiting their donation page.

Why believe in God?: Homily for Thursday, October 12, 2017

Readings for Today

It seems like there has been one disaster after another.  Hurricanes. Floods. Earthquakes. Shootings. Fires. At some point, even a reasonable person might begin to ask what it all means. There can be in us a feeling that might give into despair.  And for me, that is just from someone who has not personally experienced any of these disasters but has only heard their harrowing stories.

The first reading is filled with despair.  There is no longer a hope in God because it seems like there is no good reason to believe. And yet the gospel reminds us of the value of perseverance.  Even when the homeowner does not feel like getting out of bed at night to help his neighbor, persistence causes him to do so. And when we can remain persistent in prayer, we too can become more aware of God’s grace.