The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown will take up a special collection for victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Bishop John O. Barres has authorized the collection.

"The devastating and tragic impact of the earthquake and the destruction and loss of life that resulted requires us to respond to the spirtual and material needs of a nation and a people that experience daily painful poverty and social conditions," Barres said.

The Bishop has authorized all 104 parishes in the five counties of the diocese to take up the special collection on the weekend of Jan. 23 and 24. The proceeds of this collection will be sent immediately to Catholic Relief Services (www.catholicrelief.org.), which is already distributing aid in the region.

Catholic Relief Services is headquartered in Baltimore. The Bishops of the United States founded it in 1943 to serve the poor and disadvantageed and to alleviate human suffering. It operates on five continents in over 90 countries.

Barres said there is much to be done spiritually and materially. "The people of the Diocese of Allentown join the people of Haiti in our Masses and in our prayers. As we follow the relief efforts and the unfolding events in Haiti, we pledge our prayers, generousity and support in the days ahead. We also remember Haitian families in the Diocese of Allentown who may have lost relatives or friends."