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On Wednesday morning, October 11, 2017, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West issued a letter to the clergy and faithful concerning the wild fires raging in California—a situation which he says “changes hourly.”

“I ask you all to keep the people of the Sonoma and Napa valleys in your prayers,” Archbishop Benjamin writes.  “As I write this, the situation changes hourly.  But I can report there have been no casualties so far.  Some of our faithful and the nuns of both the Kazan Skete and Calistoga have had to be evacuated.  The weather reports promise there will be significant winds today and on the weekend.  This means the fire can and probably will spread.  The danger will persist as well as a depressing sense of uncertainty for everyone for some time.

“As of last night, there was zero containment,” Archbishop Benjamin continues.  “But, according to Father Lawrence Margitich [of Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Santa Rosa, CA], no one from the parish has been harmed though one family lost their home.  There are thousands who have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“We are grateful to God for the mercy he has shown us and pray the Theotokos will extend her protecting veil over the faithful of the Napa and Sonoma valleys,” Archbishop Benjamin concludes.  “The road to recovery is going to be long and difficult even for those who did not lose their homes.  Many businesses, schools and other important civic institutions have been destroyed.  Lord, have mercy!”

Additional updates will be posted as they are received.  In the meantime, we ask one and all to pray fervently for our brothers and sisters—especially those in the Santa Rosa area—that they may be spared in this ongoing disaster.