The recent hurricane strikes in the Gulf Coast have proven that Cross International Catholic Outreach's approach of helping needy people through a church-based method of distribution is as effective in the U.S. as it is overseas.
While the relief efforts of others were slow to develop and difficult to administer, the church's nimble response on a "grass roots" level has been both effective and inspiring. In hard hit areas, priests and their parishes mobilized quickly and found creative ways to deal with people's unique situations.
"We heard it over and over again. People who were struggling to get their needs met in those early weeks after the storms said that the churches were the best source of help," recalled Jim Cavnar, president of Cross International Catholic Outreach. "And, frankly, we weren't surprised to hear that. We see the same thing in Haiti, Africa, the Philippines and other places where the poor struggle overseas. The church is nimble, flexible and gets things done."
But Cavnar was quick to add that the success of church-based ministries is only possible when the public lends its support. A parish on "the front line" may be perfectly positioned to mount a ministry outreach, but it still needs food, medicines or other …