Supporting our sisters and brothers in Syria and Turkey

Dear Members of the USF Community,

Like you, I have been profoundly distressed by the news from Syria and Turkey after Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated the region. As I write this, more than 7,700 people have died and many, many more are injured and suffering. It is news that worsens by the hour as the region copes with freezing temperatures, fires, and disrupted supply lines. Rescue workers from around the world are searching through rubble for survivors, and are providing shelter, food, and comfort for the hundreds of thousands left homeless.

The number of people affected by the earthquake is impossible to comprehend. Officials are warning that in a region already burdened by a war and refugee crisis, deaths could increase by the thousands.

We have a number of undergraduate and graduate students from the region, and many USF students, faculty, and staff also have family and loved ones in Syria and Turkey. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to them and their beloved communities.

A dedicated prayer for the people of Syria and Turkey will take place during the 7 p.m. student Mass in St. Ignatius Church on Sunday, Feb. 12. Additionally, the University Ministry interfaith team will host a vigil on Monday, Feb. 13, at 12 p.m. on Privett Plaza.

We also know that many members of the USF community are looking for concrete ways to help Syria and Turkey. In the days and weeks to come, as other campus gatherings are planned and as opportunities to help are identified, we will communicate that information to our community. If you are able to contribute to relief efforts in the region, you might consider exploring the work that the Jesuit Refugee Service is doing in Syria; or OXFAM, which is working with women’s cooperatives in Turkey and accepting donations; or another relief organization of your choice.

If you find you need assistance during this difficult and traumatic time, I remind you of the resources available to support everyone in the USF community: 

Your prayers and support mean a great deal for our sisters and brothers in Syria and Turkey, and for their family and friends here at USF. Thank you.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.