Knights of Columbus answers plea from Brazilian archbishop for assistance during pandemic.
Responding to an urgent request from Archbishop Leonardo Steiner, O.F.M., archbishop of Manaus, Brazil, the Knights of Columbus has sent more than $200,000 in concentrated oxygen and personal oxygen concentrator devices to the Amazon regions of Brazil and Peru, where Indigenous populations have been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson immediately began the process of delivering aid to the Amazon region after hearing Archbishop Steiner’s desperate plea delivered via video in mid-January: “For the love of God, send us oxygen!”
“In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Amazon region, we could not fail to act,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “The Knights of Columbus, in this instance, had both the resources and the appropriate connections to respond rapidly to this critical need.”
Supreme Knight Anderson noted that Knights of Columbus councils throughout the United States and around the world have been exemplary in their rapid response to the COVID crisis in their communities through the Knights’ “Leave No Neighbor Behind” initiative. He added, “Now this help, on behalf of a remote and largely Indigenous people, speaks to the reality that, within the Body of Christ, ‘our neighbor’ stretches far beyond the borders of our own local communities.”
Archbishop Steiner, who became the shepherd of Manaus’ 1.7 million Catholics just before the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, issued his plea as a new wave — and possible new strain — of COVID hit the area, overburdening the region’s hospital system, particularly its oxygen supply.
Family members have stood in line for hours to refill oxygen tanks for loved ones struggling to stay alive at home due to a lack of hospital beds.
While planning aid for the Archdiocese of Manaus, the Knights learned of a similar need in another part of the Amazon. The Knights of Columbus is also delivering self-contained oxygen concentrators as well as oxygen tanks to the Territorial Prelature of Santiago Apóstol de Huancané in Peru. The prelature, which was established in 2019, includes a portion of the Peruvian Amazon and reaches into the Andes mountains.
Bishop Giovanni Cefai, in a message to the Knights, predicted that the results of this initiative would be “astonishing.” “Even if we save just one life it is worth it,” Bishop Cefai said. “Imagine that we will be saving hundreds of lives.”
(Photo Right) Relatives of patients hospitalized or receiving health care at home gather to buy oxygen at a private company in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 15, 2021. Bishops in Brazil's Amazonas and Roraima states are pleading for oxygen tanks to help fight COVID-19. (CNS photo/Bruno Kelly, Reuters)