Archdiocese holds special collection to aid Maui relief efforts

BOSTON -- "Recognizing the immediate and growing need for assistance" for Hawaii's wildfires victims, Boston Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley has called on all parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston to take a special collection to support Church relief efforts in the Diocese of Honolulu in the aftermath of the devastating Aug. 8-9 wildfires.

The fires burned Lahaina on the island of Maui to the ground and affected other communities in what is the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii's history and the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century.

Relief efforts will "play a crucial role in helping to rebuild lives and restore hope," the archdiocese said in an Aug. 17 statement.

Parishes were encouraged to hold the collection over any of the weekends of Aug. 19-20, Aug. 26-27, or Sept. 2-3. Parishioners are asked to make checks payable to their parish, with "Maui Relief" in the memo. The archdiocese will process all funds raised directly to Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation (HCCF).

"Cardinal Seán is grateful to the parishes of the archdiocese for their expression of solidarity with those who are suffering," the statement said. "The archdiocese has a long track record of stepping up in times of natural disasters to help people all over the world recover and rebuild."

Among other U.S. dioceses taking special collections for the wildfire victims are the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, whose parishes planned to do so at Masses in the last weekends of August and early September.

The Diocese of Honolulu also has two outlets taking donations for relief efforts via the diocese's Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation,, and the Catholic Charities Hawaii site,

In an Aug. 11 letter addressed to "our Catholic Faithful in Hawaii and Beyond," Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva wrote, "As a community of faith, we are called to come together and provide unwavering support to those who are suffering. It is in times like these that our collective love, faith, and compassion can make a tremendous difference." He said supporting the Church's relief efforts for Maui "is an opportunity for us to show our solidarity as a Catholic faith community and lend a helping hand to those who have lost so much."

Catholic Charities USA also has made an appeal for donations for Hawaii relief efforts on its website:

As of late Aug. 18, the death toll in Lahaina was at least 111, with the identity of six victims publicly released by police. An estimated 58 percent of the burn area has been searched. For several days, there were estimates that between 1,000 to 1,300 remained unaccounted for, but ABC News reported Aug. 18 the number could be closer to 950. About 11,000 others evacuated.

U.S. census data from 2020 shows that Lahaina had a population of about 12,700 out of an overall population on Maui of about 165,000.

As many as 3,000 homes may have been destroyed. Other Maui communities affected by fires include Kihei and Kula, with more than 500 acres burned. According to research done by Moody's Analytics, the economic cost to Maui from the wildfires could reach $7 billion.

According to the website, recovery efforts continue on Maui. Multiple fires on the island were sparked Aug. 8, and were fueled by strong winds as a hurricane passed well south of the islands.

MauiNow also reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a disaster recovery center in Kahului. The Family Assistance Center in Ka'anapali is helping those looking for displaced loved ones.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Maui Aug. 21 to meet with first responders and survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials.

During his visit, Biden told survivors that the nation "grieves with you" and promised the federal government will help Maui "for as long as it takes" to recover from the disaster.