The Australian catholic community is adding its help to those who have lost homes or loved ones from the devastating bushfires.
On Australia Day weekend, a national appeal will be held during masses to raise funds for St Vincent de Paul.
Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst Bishop Shane Mackinlay said in a statement, he welcomed the generous offer of assistance from people who had come forward.
He praised the heroic efforts by all emergency services and was concerned for those who had died and others who had lost property.
“I am grateful for the many efforts that have been made around our diocese to ensure up to date information is available, to provide prayer resources for our parishes and immediate support for those in the bushfire areas.
“We pray especially for those who lost their lives, and for the safe recovery of people who are missing.
“Let us continue to pray for those affected by the fires, for firefighters and emergency personnel, and for our political leaders.
Bishop Mackinlay also urged political and community leaders to "to identify and respond to the underlying causes that have contributed to the heightened risks we are facing this summer".
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has determined its national responses. It includes:
● The facilitation of a national network connecting people affected by the bushfires with people who can help with tasks such as preparing meals, clearing properties, rebuilding communities, as well as pastoral and counselling support.
● The distribution of special prayers and other resources for use in parishes, families and other Catholic communities.
● Collaboration with key national agencies like Catholic Health Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, the National Catholic Education Commission and the St Vincent de Paul Society to ensure as effective a response as possible from the wider Catholic community.
● Cooperating with Catholic Religious Australia and religious institutes and their ministries.
● Parishes across the country taking up a special collection at Masses on the Australia Day weekend, with all funds to be donated to Vinnies’ bushfire appeal.
● People who want to contribute to the Victorian bushfire appeal can do so by visiting vic.gov.au/bushfireappeal
Other appeals The News recommends for donations include Shepparton Bushfire Appeal on Facebook and wildlifevictoria.org.au
Given anyone can set up a GoFundMe page, fraud is a possibility, and we encourage people to verify where their funds are going before donating.