On November 9, 2018, His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West requested prayers in the wake the fires threatening California.  He especially noted the fire that completely engulfed the northern California community of Paradise, where a number of faithful from from Saints Cyril and Methodius Mission in neighboring Chico, CA reside.

Priest Ian Shipley, Saints Cyril and Methodius’ Acting Rector, recently offered an update on the fire and how it has affected the area’s faithful.

“By now many of you have heard of the ‘Camp Fire’ which has been raging here in northern California—now the deadliest and most devastating wildfire in California history,” Father Ian said.  “As of this writing, the death toll is at 71 and is bound to rise considering the number of missing persons.  The fire has burnt 146,000 acres, and it is currently 50% contained.  So far 9,844 residences, 336 commercial, 2,067 other buildings have also been destroyed.”

Chico’s Saints Cyril and Methodius Mission is a mere 15 minutes from the town of Paradise, which has been completely devastated by the fire.  Chico and Paradise are closely intertwined, as many people live in Paradise and work in Chico.

“Along with thousands of other people, five of our own parishioners have lost their homes as well—but most importantly, we are thankful to God that they all made it out alive!” Father Ian continued.  “Their stories are harrowing!  Many of them drove through flames while evacuating.  The fire advanced very quickly and they received no advanced warning from any official source, and fled their homes with very little! We are glad that they are safe and being taken care of by friends, relatives, and fellow parishioners, but they are now left with the task of having to rebuild their lives.”

Father Ian and the faithful of Saints Cyril and Methodius are doing all they can to help their fellow parishioners and those in the wider community “get back on their feet.”

“It will be a long road, but we know that tragedy also has the capacity to bring us closer together and remind us of what is truly important: our unity in Christ and our love for our neighbor,” Father Ian added.  “We are setting up a ‘fire relief’ fund to help our parishioners and others affected.  We appreciate your prayers and donations to those suffering in our community.”

We ask for everyone’s prayers for the faithful of Saints Cyril and Methodius Mission and all who have been tragically affected.  Those wishing to offer assistance are invited to contact Father Ian at fr.ianshipley@gmail.com.