Catholics donate nearly $50,000 for emergency bridge relief appeal

(OSV News) - Within 24 hours after Archbishop William E. Lori asked Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore to support twin emergency relief funds for those affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, nearly $50,000 was raised in online donations.

Donors contributed more than $34,000 to the Francis Scott Key Bridge Relief Fund, which supports the ministry at Sacred Heart of Jesus-Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Highlandtown. Redemptorist Father Ako Walker, pastor of the largely Spanish-speaking parish, has been providing pastoral support to the families of six construction workers who perished in the March 26 bridge collapse. All of them were from Mexico or Central America.

The Key Relief Fund will also support the parish’s work with partners such as Catholic Charities-run Esperanza Center to meet the ongoing needs of the victims' families and others in the city who face job losses. That could include assistance for housing costs, medical and mental health treatment, and replacement for lost wages.

Donors have also contributed more than $14,000 for the Apostleship of the Sea, an archdiocesan ministry to seafarers at the Port of Baltimore. Andy Middleton, director of the ministry, has been supporting members of the crew on the cargo ship that rammed into the bridge, precipitating its collapse. The crew’s "mayday" signal after the ship apparently lost power prior to the accident is credited with saving lives -- causing officials to close bridge traffic right before the tragedy.

Apostleship of the Sea is also arranging Masses and providing other support for the crews of additional ships stranded at the port.

"The outpouring of support from the Catholic community has been remarkable and underscores the importance of collective action in times of crisis, embodying the core principles of compassion, generosity and solidarity," said Kim Montgomery, chief advancement officer for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "By coming together as one, our community has demonstrated their unwavering commitment to serving their neighbors and rallying around their community in the face of adversity."

Christian Kendzierski, communications director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, called the response to the appeal "amazing."

"We are deeply grateful to the generous parishioners of the Archdiocese of Baltimore for their support and compassion for the families of the victims of the Francis Scott Key bridge collapse, the seafarers who are stranded at the port and all those affected by the tragedy," he said. "Their donations are making a difference and are bringing hope and healing in a challenging time for our community."

Archbishop Lori made the fundraising appeal in a March 28 Flocknote message sent via email and text messages. More funds are expected to be raised from those who choose to mail in their donations.


Caption: A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovers over the Dali cargo vessel March 26, 2024, after it crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore. Within 24 hours after Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori asked Catholics throughout the archdiocese to support twin emergency relief funds for those affected by the bridge collapse, nearly $50,000 has been raised in online donations. (OSV News photo/Julia Nikhinson, Reuters)