THE Bishop of Oklahoma, Dr Edward Konieczny, has asked for
prayers and financial support in the wake of the devastating
tornado which killed at least 24 people, including nine
Dr Konieczny, who is currently on sabbatical, sent a pastoral
letter to his 70 congregations the day after the tornado - which
has been upgraded to the most powerful level of twister - struck on
He said: "At this moment, the best assistance would be financial
contributions. I am asking every congregation to make a special
appeal this Sunday for tornado relief. Please forward those gifts
to the diocese, and we will get them into the hands of those in
"We all know the people of Oklahoma are people of incredible
faith, and it will be the strength of that faith that will sustain
us in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead."
Churches seem to have suffered only minimal damage, though the
roof on the Bishop's own home was destroyed by hail and wind
The Bishop's chief-of-staff, Canon José McLoughlin, told the
Church Times on Wednesday that the extent of the damage
suffered as a result of the mile-wide tornado was "incredible". Two
schools and a hospital had been destroyed, and entire
neighbourhoods had been flattened.
"Rescue and recovery crews have been working non-stop to search
for missing persons. This effort will continue into the next few
"We have been working hard the last two days to assess the
situation and work with our clergy to account for all members of
our churches and their families. We do have members that have been
impacted by the tornadoes. Some have lost their homes; others have
experienced extensive damage; and there have been some
"We are working to provide financial support to those in need
and the other organisations involved in the recovery effort. Our
churches are using their ministries to provide support for the
victims of these storms, and their families.
"We are also working with Episcopal Relief and Development and
the office of the Presiding Bishop to ensure resources will be
available to support our efforts. We have been contacted by
Episcopalians and Anglicans around the world, who have offered
prayers, and human and financial resources."
One of the church schools in the area, St Mary's Episcopal
School, in Edmond, is acting as a collection centre for essential
supplies of bottled water, baby wipes, nappies, and formula milk,
which are being distributed to victims by the Salvation Army.
Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the RC Archbishop of
Oklahoma City, the Most Revd Paul Coakley, expressing his concern
for the victims and those left homeless.
It said: "The Holy Father has followed with deep concern the
aftermath of the devastating tornado which has struck Oklahoma, and
he asks you convey to the entire community the assurance of his
solidarity and closeness in prayer. Conscious of the tragic loss of
life and the immensity of the work of rebuilding that lies ahead,
he asks Almighty God to grant eternal rest to the departed, comfort
to the afflicted, and strength and hope to the homeless and the
"In a particular way, he commends to the Father of mercies the
many young children among the victims, and their grieving families.
Upon the local civil and religious leaders, and upon all involved
in the relief efforts, His Holiness invokes the Risen Lord's gifts
of consolation, strength, and perseverance in every