As the Labor Day weekend opened with round-the-clock media reports on the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Russia and the worst hurricane in Florida’s history, members of the Orthodox Church in America flocked to parish churches to offer prayers and initiate plans to offer financial assistance for the victims of both tragedies.
“Hundreds of e-mails were received at the Orthodox Church in America Chancery over the weekend enquiring as to how individuals and parishes could offer assistance,” said the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “As soon as those in Russia and Florida have fully assessed the immediate needs, an appeal for assistance will be issued. Since both tragedies are still evolving, it will take a few days receive reports from those closest to the events.”
It is ancitipated that funds to assist the victims of the Beslan terrorist attack, which took the lives of an estimated 400 and left hundreds of others injured, will be collected by the Orthodox Church in America and channeled to those in need.
Since there has been little on-site contact with clergy and other representatives of the dozens of OCA parishes across Florida, many of whom were evacuated with an estimated 2.5 million other state residents, the needs of these communities have yet to be ascertained. It is assumed that parish properties, as well as the homes and businesses of many faithful, have suffered serious damage, but as of Sunday evening no specific assessments have been received.
“We have received reports of numerous parishes taking special collections over the weekend,” Father Matusiak noted. “For example, the faithful of Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC mounted a spontaneous collection for the Beslan terrorist victims and their families that reportedly reached nearly $3,000.00.”
It is expected that specific plans for special fund drives, as well as a statement by the Church’s Primate, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, will be posted on the OCA web site at http://www.oca.org as early as Tuesday, September 7.