Archbishop Richard Smith is asking parishes in the Archdiocese of Edmonton to conduct emergency collections over the next two weekends in support of the people in fire-ravaged Fort McMurray:

We are all shocked and saddened by the sudden destruction caused by the wildfire in Fort McMurray," the Archbishop wrote in a message to parishes Wednesday. "At this time, it is so important that we lift up urgent prayers for our sisters and brothers in the Diocese of St. Paul.

The situation is grave and still developing, but Bishop Paul Terrio has advised that the flames were threatening the St. Paul Parish Church in Fort McMurray, and of course we know many homes have been destroyed.

I am writing to request that special collections be taken up in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Edmonton at masses this weekend and on the weekend of May 13-14, in support of the people of Fort McMurray. 

We ask that you forward the proceeds directly to the Diocese of St. Paul at 4410 – 51 Ave., St. Paul, AB  T0A 3A2, marking the cheque for Fire Relief.  The Diocese of St Paul will split the proceeds in half, between the Fort McMurray parishioners and the Fort McMurray Ministerial Association to be distributed to any local residents in need.

Bishop Terrio advises that any monies received by St. Paul Diocese for this relief effort will be accounted for and their use indicated.

Please let your parishioners know they can also donate directly to relief for fire victims through the Red Cross.

I am aware that some of our parishes have already joined the efforts to collect goods and clothing to donate to the displaced Fort McMurray residents, and I am grateful for your generous efforts. We understand that the immediate need for evacuees is for personal toiletries, diapers, and bottled water.  Corpus Christi Parish in southeast Edmonton is hosting a drop-off station where these items will be retrieved by Edmonton Transit for delivery to evacuees.  We will be happy to share any other parish initiatives through the archdiocesan Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In the meantime, here in our own Archdiocese, wildfire has also broken out near the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation, and evacuations have begun. Please keep our people at Alexis in your prayers as well; we will keep you posted on that situation as it develops.

Sincerely in Christ,

+Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton