By now, pretty much everyone around the nation, and especially those in Texas and Austin have heard about the Fertilizer Plant Explosion in West, Texas. What many people may not know is that West, Tx is part of the Diocese of Austin.
Our brothers and sisters in West, Texas are in need of our help. Many in the Diocese of Austin and from all over Texas have at least a memory or two of West, Tx, even if it was just stopping at the Czech Stop Bakery and Gas Station for a kolache and to gas up the car. It is a loving, caring and close-knit community. A great example of how caring and close-knit the community is comes from a personal visit I had to West several years ago. My husband called the Catholic Church in West late at night, around 11pm or so, to find out Mass times because we were going to Westfest, their annual Czech Polka Festival, the next day. He heard the Mass times on the voicemail recording and hung up. The next morning around 7am on a Saturday, he received a phone call from the parish priest, who noticed a late night missed phone call, and he wanted to make sure everything was okay. That’s just the type of community West is. And now they need our help.
Over the next few days we will be updating this page regularly with way to help our brothers and sisters in West. If you can’t give anything in terms of money, donated items or blood, please pray for the people of West. In a small, close-knit community like West, undoubtedly everyone will be affected by this tragedy in one way or another, whether it’s knowing someone who died, having their home destroyed, their pet dying or their school or place of work destroyed.
- Bishop Vásquez will celebrate a Mass at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 21, at St. Mary, Church of the Assumption in West.
- Bishop Vásquez will visit West on Friday and has approved the use of a special weekday Mass for the people of West.
- The Diocese of Austin will respond to the needs to those affected by the explosion with long-term case management. The American Red Cross provides disaster relief during the first 30 days. Beginning from the 31st day, Catholic Charities of Central Texas and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will take on cases referred by the American Red Cross, in addition to new cases. Long-term case management includes the distribution of furniture and household goods.
- There is a need for blood for victims of the explosion. Donate blood wherever you can. Within Austin, the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas
- Monetary donations should be given to Catholic Charities of Central Texas or The Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
- The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will accept donations of furniture and household goods, excluding clothes and mattresses, at two locations: 818 Yaeger Lane, Austin, Texas, 78753 and 1327 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78704. Donations are accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- All Catholic parishes are asked to take up a special collection this weekend or on another date that will be distributed through Catholic Charities of Central Texas.
The diocesan Office of Family Counseling and Family Life is visiting West today to evaluate needs for licensed counselors in the area. Once the evaluation is complete, the appropriate resources will be assigned.
- The Austin American-Statesman and the Waco Tribute include additional organizations assisting West.
Prayer in Tragedy and Disaster
God our Father, we come to you in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. We ask for your loving mercy and kindness toward all who suffer as a result of a tragedy, especially those in West. Lord, for those who lost their lives, and those who mourn them, we ask for your loving mercy and loving embrace, that they may be comforted. For those who were wounded, we ask for healing and help, that they may regain their former strength. For those caring for the wounded and searching for victims, that they may have the strength and graces needed in their efforts. And for those who are searching for the dead, that you may assist them in their effort so that all who lost their lives in this tragedy can be buried with dignity.
Lord, may this tragedy become an opportunity for us to enter deeper into relationship with you, your Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Through this tragedy, may we come to understand your love for the poor and those in need, and see the face of your Son, our Christ, in the faces of others. May this be an opportunity for us to show our love for you and all your people by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. And may this tragedy become an opportunity of grace for us all, and an invitation for us to love. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.