Precious Blood congregations provide relief to victims of tornadoes

Left, Karen Seitz, teacher at Mother Brunner School, and Sister Jeanette Buehler. Middle, Jenna Legg, vocation ministry coordinator for Sisters of the Precious Blood and Shane Legg, coordinator of youth ministry for Catholic Communities of Northwest Dayton. Right, Sister Jean René Hoying, Shelby Borchers from Artemis Center and Lea Gauthier from Brigid’s Path donated three carloads of diapers and baby food.

An outbreak of 15 tornadoes, ranging in strengths of EF0 to EF4, struck the Dayton, Ohio, region in the waning hours of Memorial Day. The only EF4 tornado in the storm system created a half-mile-wide path of destruction from the Dayton suburbs of Brookville to Riverside for a distance of 20 miles. This tornado passed through Trotwood, just a half mile north of the Sisters’ Salem Heights retirement center and Precious Blood Parish.

Three other tornadoes also occurred in the same time frame in Celina, Ohio. This area is just miles from the Sisters’ original motherhouse in Maria Stein and from the Missionaries of the Precious Blood’s motherhouse in Carthegena, Ohio.

Though we are saddened that one person died in the Celina tornado, through the grace of God, there were no other lives lost in these devastating storms. And none of the properties of either congregation sustained significant damage. Many of the Sisters at Salem Heights moved to other homes or hotels for a day or two because of the loss of power and water at the residence.

Once back home a few days after the storm, the Sisters of the Precious Blood assisted the great efforts of Precious Blood Parish and Mother Brunner School in providing relief to tornado victims in the neighborhood. For four days, the parish operated a drop-in center. Residents could pick up toiletries, baby items, water and nonperishable food. There was a large and steady stream of donations from generous people who were not directly affected by the tornadoes.

Several Sisters and staff members, Mother Brunner teachers and students and Precious Blood parishioners assisted shoppers, lent a sympathetic ear, organized donations and volunteers and served a hot meal for hundreds of people. It was tiring work, but the Precious Blood communities met the challenge to serve those in need.

Most of the hardest hit neighborhoods are in some of the Miami Valley’s impoverished areas. The people living there will need ongoing support and prayers as they struggle to rebuild. There have been tremendous numbers of volunteers helping in the affected neighborhoods thus far. The wider Dayton community has come together, which is cause for thanksgiving in and of itself. We ask for your prayerful support for the victims and for relationships that persist into the future, across racial and economic divides.

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