By Jim Fair

Noting the bravery and sacrifice of first responders, Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose, California, has called for prayers during the devastating heat and fire in Southern California.

In calling for prayers in an August 21 statement, he stressed that “we are not alone: God is with us.”

At least seven people have lost their lives over the past week, which has seen some 650 different fires, reported Vatican News. Two of the fires are the second and third largest wildfires ever recorded in the US state’s history. Both are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area, where over 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes

At least seven people have lost their lives over the past week; around 700 homes and businesses have been destroyed.

“I want to invite you to join with me in prayer for the people of California as we continue to face the effects of the heatwave and the devastating wildfires that have plagued us in recent days,” said Bishop Cantú. “First responders are braving high heat and unpredictable firestorms across difficult terrain, often at great personal sacrifice, to defend lives and property.

“Families are being evacuated, even rescued, from fires invading their neighborhoods and menacing their homes, often not knowing where it might be safe to go amid the pandemic. The toxic smoke chokes our air and our lungs.

“But we are not alone: God is with us. He is our refuge and strength, especially in moments of darkness. His love for us is fiercer than any fire, stronger than any disease, steadier than the unknown. ”

Following is Bishop Cantú’s full statement:

August 21, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

But we are not alone: God is with us. He is our refuge and strength, especially in moments of darkness. His love for us is fiercer than any fire, stronger than any disease, steadier than the unknown. Let us pray that He might safeguard our families, neighbors, and the most vulnerable among us; and that He might guide and protect our firefighters, first responders, and all who work tirelessly to alleviate these disasters. Let us shine the light of His love by helping those who may need food, shelter, or a compassionate ear. Let us never forget that with Jesus Christ, all things are possible.

Some of our parishes and schools are near the evacuation zones and are trying to help their affected parishioners. I ask for your prayers for them. Also, as the air quality in our area fluctuates in the coming days, please stay in touch with your local parish for any changes in Mass schedules. As we pray for the people of our Diocese of San José and beyond, be assured of my own prayers for you, your families, and your life of faith in these difficult days.

Yours in Christ,

+Oscar Cantú
Bishop of San Jose

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