Arlington parish is managing more than $600,000 in donations to help families in need
Father Tim Sauer
By John Wolcott
Since the March 22 Oso mudslide, Arlington’s Immaculate Conception Parish has become a focal point of recovery efforts and aid to families of the 41 people killed in the disaster. Two people are still missing and presumed dead.
Father Tim Sauer has been managing more than $600,000 in donations — most targeted to help pay funeral expenses — as well as media inquiries, pastoral care and his regular duties as pastor of both Immaculate Conception and St. John Vianney Mission in Darrington.
“We are paying all of the costs for victims’ families, including funeral homes, cemeteries and cremation services,” as well as related costs such as flowers and newspaper obituaries, Father Sauer said in an email. The total so far is about $150,000, he said, estimating that funeral and related costs eventually will reach around $500,000.
The donations are helping all those affected, whether they are Catholic, are of another faith, or have no religious affiliations.
“I don’t know the total number of funerals held because they have been at different places, including some private events not announced publicly,” Father Sauer said. “Six of the funerals have been at Immaculate Conception, one more is planned here, and there will be many more to come.”
The donation fund includes hundreds of donations from Father Sauer’s parishioners, other parishes in the archdiocese and individuals around the U.S. and Canada. It includes more than $375,000 collected by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington specifically for funeral expenses and disaster relief. Dozens of organizations and foundations have also contributed, including $3,400 from a single breakfast held by Knights of Columbus Council 7863 at St. Mary’s parish in Marysville.
Some of the funds have been used to provide fresh produce for the Darrington food bank and to provide gas cards for Darrington residents who have had to travel a two-hour route to work on the west side of the landslide, which still blocks Highway 530. (A rough access road around the slide area has now been opened, but is slow going).
In its bulletin, the parish recently thanked Michael Palmer, the pastoral assistant for administration at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Seattle, who has been spending time at Immaculate Conception doing the accounting and managing the funds.
Father Sauer also has been involved with the ministerial associations of Arlington and Darrington to address “long-term impact issues of the landslide, including economic, mental health, spiritual and basic human needs,” he said.
And he’s been working closely with the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “whose representatives have told me to expect the full recovery for the communities to take about two years,” Father Sauer said.
HOW TO DONATE
Donations to Immaculate Conception Parish can be made through its website, www.stillycatholic.org, or by mail. Make checks payable to “Immaculate Conception (ICC)” and write “Funerals” or “Disaster Relief” in the memo area of the check. Mail checks to:
Immaculate Conception Church
Donations to CCS may be made through its website, www.ccsww.org, or by mail. Make checks payable to “Catholic Community Services” and note “Oso Mudslide” on the memo line. Mail checks to:
Catholic Community Services
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