On February 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated large areas of southern Turkey and northwest Syria. The death toll has surpassed 20,000 and continues to climb. Thousands of people have been injured and many are trapped beneath the rubble. The earthquake is the worst to strike Turkey this century. Within the subsequent 24 hours, the region experienced multiple aftershocks and a second 7.5 magnitude quake.

Across affected areas, apartment buildings and schools have been leveled. Telecommunications are disrupted, preventing families from identifying and accounting for missing loved ones. In Syria, displaced people are seeking shelter in schools and community centers in areas already devastated by years of war. Across southern Turkey, schools are closed, airport transportation is impaired and hospitals have been declared unusable.

Catholic Relief Services is supporting local partners in their efforts to provide urgent relief and assistance for long-term recovery. CRS has partnerships with Caritas Turkey and Caritas Syria, as well as other local partners. To support the efforts of these organizations, Most Rev. Mark Brennan, Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, has approved a special collection to be held on Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023, and for collection baskets to remain available for the collection through the first Sunday of Lent. Bishop Brennan appreciates your generosity this past summer to those affected by the severe storms and flooding in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. But he feels impelled once again to ask you to do what you can to help those affected by this most recent disaster.

All funds collected in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will be given to Catholic Relief Services with the special designation for use in the Turkey/Syria Earthquake Recovery Effort.

Checks can be made out to your respective parish with “Disaster Relief” on the memo line. Donations can also be made on the diocesan website at https://dwc.org/disaster-relief/.

As we hold the victims and first responders in our prayers during these critical days, let us also spend time in prayer and discernment as we prepare for this upcoming collection. Let us come together now to support our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering this horrible loss.