MEDFORD — Archbishop Alexander Sample is on his way to Southern Oregon Sept. 19 to be with the people who have lost their homes and suffered because of fires.

The small towns of Talent and Phoenix were destroyed when a wind-driven arson fire roared up a greenway north of Ashland. Farms in the Eagle Point area were destroyed. The entire city of Medford was on alert at one point and Shady Cove was evacuated because of wildfire. Even as the fires have been contained, the area has dealt with dangerous air for almost two weeks.

The archbishop recorded a message, in English and Spanish, for the people of the region.

“I want you to know I feel particularly close to you in your time of suffering,” the archbishop said, adding that he and other pastoral center staff are mobilizing an aid effort.

“You are not alone,” the archbishop said in the video. “Your shepherd and your brothers and sisters of the church are with you in this time of need.”

He told the people that Jesus is particularly close to us when we carry a heavy cross. Invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe, the archbishop prayed that the people who have suffered loss would be wrapped in Mary’s mantle of care.

On Sunday, Sept. 20, Archbishop Sample will celebrate Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Medford at 8:15 a.m. in English and 10:15 a.m. in Spanish. At 1 p.m., he will celebrate Mass in Spanish at Shepherd of the Valley Church in Central Point before going to Ashland for a 5 p.m. Mass in English at Our Lady of the Mountain Church.

On Monday, Sept. 21, he will celebrate Mass at St. James Church in Molalla at 5 p.m. and St. Paul Church in Silverton at 6:30 p.m. Clackamas and Marion counties also have been hit by major fires.

Local parishes have hosted and aided evacuees, many of whom are Hispanic.

“We are hearing that in the Hispanic community, many people didn’t have homeowners insurance, so it’s even more of a catastrophe,” said Ann Brophy, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Parish in Medford. “After the initial shock, I think it’s beginning to sink in for everyone what a long, hard road back it’s going to be.”

About 130 members of Sacred Heart Parish lost their homes and some are staying in parish buildings. The parish St. Vincent de Paul food pantry has become an emergency supply distribution site for food, clothes, sleeping bags and other items. The parish is taking cash donations and contributions of gift cards to give to families in need.

One parishioner, Aimee Arnold, has put together an extensive list of resources throughout the Rogue Valley and updates it every 24 hours.

The Archdiocese has established a Wildfire Relief Fund to support evacuees with housing and food as well as parishes and schools severely affected. Mail donations directly to Carmen Gaston, Director of Advancement - Wildfires, Archdiocese of Portland, 2838 E. Burnside, Portland, OR 97214

Archbishop Sample's Message to Southern Oregon from Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon on Vimeo.