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Pure religion: Blessed bishops

With the earth crumbling beneath their feet, bishops in Haiti took the weight of the world onto their shoulders. Rather than shrinking from their enormous responsibilities, these faithful bishops have stood up to their calls and have been strengthened by the hand of the Lord.

Many of the bishops in Haiti are young — in their 20s and 30s. Almost all of them are first-generation members of the Church. The earthquake last January left many of them overwhelmed, faced with helping members of their wards cope with the same physical and emotional problems with which they were also struggling.

Despite personal pain, the bishops worked around the clock to meet all of the members' extensive needs. As they put everyone before themselves, the Lord strengthened the bishops to persevere through their own pain. One bishop walked around for two weeks on a broken ankle to ensure that all of the members of his ward were being cared for before he finally saw a physician.

"Those poor bishops — they felt so responsible," Richard Long, manager of bishops' storehouses, said. "They didn't realize that there was so much help available to them."

That realization came during a training meeting for 15 bishops conducted by representatives of Church Welfare Services shortly after the disaster. It was a mind-opening experience for the bishops. Brother Long explained, "We reminded them of the big picture of welfare. For the first time after the disaster, they realized that the efforts were far bigger than themselves. There were many people who could help them. It was a relief to them."

Bishops received assessment forms to assist them in the challenging task of evaluating various temporal needs and knowing the quantity of food and other provisions required.

Necessities are then obtained from the Church's supply warehouse in Haiti and distributed to ward families within a few days.

They counsel members to effectively deal with their feelings by praying, reading the scriptures, going to Church and talking about what has happened with their families.

As Haitian bishops receive more help and strength from the Lord to care for the temporal and spiritual needs of those over whom they preside, the mantle they hold becomes increasingly obvious to those around them. Brother Long said, "They are the constants that everyone looks to." — Megan Roxas, Welfare Services

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