Editor’s Note: Father Paul Jarvis shared the following with parishioners of Christ the King in Minneapolis after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal April 25, prior to another major earthquake hitting the nation May 12. Father Jarvis is pastor of St. Joseph in Rosemount, but is transitioning to a new assignment as pastor of Christ the King, beginning July 1.
At the Request of Archbishop John Nienstedt, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is taking a special collection to fund Catholic Relief Service’s work in Nepal May 16-17.
Twenty-five years ago, I was studying Tibetan culture, religion and language in Kathmandu Nepal. I met some wonderful people who were of Newari, Sherpa, Tamang, Nepali and Tibetan background. They were truly as beautiful and cultured as the country they inhabit.
Back in the early 90s, Nepal ranked among the world’s poorest. Since then, they have suffered greatly with the killing of the entire royal family by the crown prince, a long-lasting civil war, the civil war’s mass migration of war refugees into the capital — and the overcrowding that comes from such migration. The new democratic republic seems to be just as inept as the monarchy before it.
And then came the recent devastating earthquake!
Matters went from terrible to catastrophic. Not mentioned in the news reports you’ve seen is the extent of damage to the cultural centers that have been a significant draw for tourists. Will tourists come in the future? How will trekkers trek without trails? Without quaint villages and their temples and lodges?
One of the many things we Catholic Christians can take pride in is the Catholic Relief Service (CRS). When I was a seminarian CRS Fellow in Cambodia (2003), I saw first-hand how CRS works with local populations in solving local problems with local ways and local wisdom. CRS is not your typical international aid program that foists Western solutions upon people in developing countries. CRS believes that the best solutions come from the people being assisted. This is truly unusual aid thinking.
CRS also has an extremely low administrative overhead. Again, this is because they focus on hiring talent from within a country, and not well-paid Westerners.
Lastly, CRS is known to be “the first in with food.” No aid agency gets food to those in desperate need faster. CRS enjoys utmost respect from its fellow aid agencies.
Our diocese is supporting CRS in its aid efforts in Nepal. All parishes have been asked to take a second collection for Nepal aid relief, which will be used by CRS to bring food relief to remote areas of Nepal in addition to the capital.
I have communicated with all my friends in Nepal — they’ve survived the earthquake, thank God, and have joined others in a collective national response to the crisis. They tell me that as bad as it is in the capital, it is far, far worse in the remote areas. Entire villages have been destroyed, and there are no roads for them to get to centers of assistance. CRS and other agencies will have to helicopter the aid in. And this will be very expensive.
I know I am biased. I consider Kathmandu to be one of my home-away-from-homes. And I admit to my past association with CRS.
On the other hand, this connection may be of benefit in my plea. I’ve heard directly of the devastation from friends through Facebook, and the catastrophe is real. I can also vouch for CRS.
Please be generous. I have heard that CTK parishioners are very generous with their charity. I hope you will be with this dire situation in Nepal.
Namaste (Nepali) and Tuchenang (Tibetan),