I have once again been dealing with Internet problems – meaning that Internet is out and, according to the phone company, it is a neighborhood issue and they are working on it. I’ve written and recorded the news segment for my weekend radio program, “Vatican Insider” but cannot at the moment get that to my colleagues in Alabama as they are the ones who put the whole show together. I did transmit the interview with Fr. Apparcel yesterday so they have that.

I have already posted to Facebook ( the very important Vatican radio and TV interview with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin after his four-day visit to Russia. I was able to do that via my cell phone, but posting this column via my phone is not possible.

It is 5:40 pm here. Unless things clear up in the next 90 minutes, my only possibility is to go to La Vittoria restaurant with my computer and hope their Internet is working so that I can post this column and send the news audio segment to EWTN. If time allows I will add some photos and post the link to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Parolin.

If you are reading these lines, you’ll know my Internet returned OR I am having dinner and working at La Vittoria!

In case I cannot post photos, here’s a link to St. Patrick’s!

Here’s the link to Cardinal Parolin’s intervew after his four-day Russia trip! Fascinating  information!


My guest in the intervew segment this week is Paulist Fr. Greg Apparcel, rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Rome, the new home iu the Eternal City for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics after 95 years at the historic church of Santa Susanna. That move is a long story but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Father Greg tells the story very well – who we are as a faith commmunity, our programs and outreach and where the church actually is. If you have plans to come to Rome, St. Patrick’s and your fellow American Catholics should be on your itinerary.

I have some great photo os Fr. Greg that he sent 2 days ago in an email and for reasons beyond my ken, I cannot find them – so check the St. Patrick’s link until I do find them (am transmitting this column from La Vittoria):

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. Outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


I believe I have mentioned in the past that I am on the Board of HIRF, the Healey International Relief Foundation, an organization dedicated solely, as its website says, to improving the quality of life of vulnerable individuals and families in Sierra Leone who have long ben affected by civil way and adverse socioeconomic conditions. The Healey motto is “Turning Scars into Stars.”

We have all been following events since the terrible mudslide that killed an estimated 400 people and I wanted you to know how people have been helping. Injust got this letter from HIRF:


 Thank you to all those who continue to support Sierra Leone and the victims of the massive mudslide and flooding in Freetown.  Thus far, your donations have provided healthcare services and food to those in need.  Without your help, immediate aid relief would not have been possible. We have detailed our efforts below and continue on with determination during the weeks to come.  Again, a very heartfelt thank you. Tenki, Tenki!

To view pictures of our work on the ground click here for mobile devices and click here for laptops or computers.


Great loss and suffering brings countless worry.  With so many troubles to be concerned with, where one is going to get their next meal, or how one will feed their family should NOT be one of them. nding provided through our appeal is going directly to supply meals. With our partners Caritas-Freetown and the Tzu Chi Foundation we are providing lunch daily to survivors of the flooding in the Culvert area of Freetown.  The team has also provided dinners to those taking up temporary residence at the Mudslide Shelter Site in Regent.


After the massive flooding and mudslide in Freetown, it was critical to go into the affected communities and provide healthcare services.  Not only for individual health but also to protect against the outbreak of any communicable diseases.  The fear of disease is high, especially cholera.

Our mobile health clinic was onsite immediately following the mudslide in the Regent area and has been deployed in other critical areas every day since.  To date, over 850 patients have been treated and clinic visits are ongoing throughout the Freetown area.  Funding provided though our appeal was used to purchase the needed medicines and supplies to treat the patients, many of whom are women and children.




I first read the story of the mudslide and subsequent loss of life in Sierra Leone in an email I received from the Healey International Relief Foundation on whose board I sit. I receive a number of email updates throughout the year and also spend time on their web and Facebook pages (the links are in the article below). HIRF has been doing amazing work in Sierra Leone for a number of years, starting with the post civil war period, building up hospitals, clinics, schools for young boys and girls, centers for children mutilated during the war, and much more.

I had read nothing about this mudslide before receiving this email so I did forward it to a few people in the Vatican. The Pope responded yesterday with a telegram, and I added that message to the HIRF article.

As I was about to post this article, I learned of the Barcelona attack that has killed an unknown number of people and injured many more when a person driving a van plowed into a crowd in the busy, very popular tourist avenue, Las Ramblas. I am guessing we will have another papal telegram in coming hours.


Post by: Vicki Middleton HIRF  (Healey International Relief Foundation)

“It is indeed a sad day in Freetown.” These are the words of our in-country director, Ishmeal Charles, as he and others from Caritas-Freetown were on-site to aid the survivors from a deadly mudslide that occurred early Monday, August 14th. (photo from Youtube)

Local reports have the death toll from this horrific mudslide as high as 300 and nearly 3,000 families and children homeless. These numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as rescue and recovery efforts continue. The BBC reports that many may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred and 60 children are possibly among the dead.

Charles described the scene and his feelings,

  The rain started since about 4am this morning. Now we have seen so many people losing their lives and houses.

My pain, my agony and tears are all over all our faces. So sad Sierra Leone is from one trouble to another. (photo Reuters)

Seeing so many people trying to protect their houses, old, young and children. To sad to be real.

We are out here in the field.

The rainy season in Sierra Leone lasts from June to August, with heaviest rains in August. The rains and inadequate drainage system often result in frequent flooding in Freetown during this time. In 2015, 10 people were killed by the floods and thousands left homeless.

Summarizing the situation Charles said, “It has never been this bad. I have lived here all my life, this is the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime.” He continued, “We are not able to describe well the terrible conditions.”

Click here to listen to Charles describe the situation. The interview starts at 18:28.

In the days and weeks ahead we will be working with our in-country partner Caritas-Freetown to help those who are suffering from this tragedy rebuild their lives. Click below on our Facebook and Twitter links to stay up-to-date on the situation in Sierra Leone and our efforts to help.   and Facebook:

Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, send the following telegram to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown:

“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”