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January 13, 2010

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Kathie Sass: (217) 698-8500

SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti was rocked by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Early reports indicate devastating destruction and loss of life in the thousands in the area around the nation’s capital, Port au Prince.

Vicki Compton, director of the Office for the Missions for the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, has close connections with Haiti and the Haitian people. In addition to numerous trips to Haiti on behalf of the Catholic diocese, Compton lived there from January 2001 to June 2003 as a missionary working with the Haitian Health Foundation in Jeremie, in the northwest region of the island.

“Haiti is one of the poorest countries of the world and has few resources to deal with an emergency of this size,” Compton said. “The people of Haiti are ill-equipped to handle any sort of emergency situation, certainly not one of this magnitude. The resilience and faith of the Haitian people is their only and greatest resource.

“Many people from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois have traveled to Haiti over the years — with the diocese, with Eastern Illinois University Newman Center, Quincy College their through sister-parish relationships or with the Haitian priests who serve in our diocese,” she said.

Individuals and groups who would like to help the earthquake relief effort can do so through Catholic Relief Services, Compton said.

“Catholic Relief Services has been working in Haiti since 1954,” she said. “The CRS team in Haiti is in place to distribute emergency relief.

“Prayers, of course, are absolutely needed,” she added.

Catholic Relief Services is a major international relief agency and the U.S. Catholic Church’s official development and relief agency working in 100 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. CRS was a primary responder to the 2004 tsunami and is still reporting how donations are being used to rebuild the communities impacted by that terrible natural disaster.

Compton said donations to CRS for Haitian Relief can be made online at CRS.org, or mailed directly to them at 228 W. Lexington, Baltimore, MD 21201-3413. Donations are also being accepted at the diocesan Office for the Missions, 1615 W. Washington Street, which will forward them in their entirety to CRS.