Students at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School, 2228 S. Whipple St., gathered in front of the grotto Sept. 26 to pray for victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico and hurricanes in Puerto Rico. During the service, senior Veronica Peña read a litany of names of individuals and families — all people connected to the students at the Little Village school who have been affected by the natural disasters. About 86 percent of the 150 girls at Our Lady of Tepeyac are Latina, said school president Joni Thompson, and most of their families are from Mexico. “It was sad to see all the buildings go down in the neighborhood where my dad grew up,” said Doris Ballesteros, a senior whose family hails from Mexico City. Her aunt has been volunteering in Mexico City, she said. “I saw pictures and videos of places I knew.” A strong earthquake with a magnitude estimated at 7.1 shook central Mexico on the afternoon of Sept. 19, and was followed by several aftershocks, including two on Sept. 23. More than 330 people were reported killed. These earthquakes followed a magnitude 8.1 quake that hit southern Mexico Sept. 8 and killed nearly 100 people. Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20. As of Oct. 9, 34 people had been reported dead. Reports indicate that the island’s economic recovery may take more than a decade. Also of interest... Special collection Oct. 28-29 Cardinal Cupich has asked that all parishes take up a second collection Oct. 28 and 29 for victims of recent natural disasters, especially the earthquake in Mexico and the hurricane in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked all dioceses to conduct the collection. Proceeds benefit the Catholic Church’s humanitarian efforts in the areas affected. Cardinal Cupich announced the collection in a letter to priests. He also thanked local Catholics for their generosity during a collection Sept. 9 and 10 for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which raised more than $600,000. The cardinal wrote, “It is my wish to sincerely thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support you have shown them during this challenging time. Banding together to answer the cry of those in need, the Archdiocese of Chicago community has seamlessly partnered with Catholic Charities USA, local parishes, and schools to bring financial, physical, and spiritual aid to those who have lost so much in the Gulf Coast.” To donate to these efforts, visit pvm.archchicago.org/hurricane or mail contributions to: Natural Disaster Emergency Appeal 3525 S. Lake Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60653. Thompson said school officials had the students plan and lead the prayer service because it was important for the young women to feel like they were doing something to help. “I think it’s important to help others who are struggling,” senior Veronica Huicochea said. “Everyone needs to do something.” “I believe that anything is helpful right now,” added Peña. “The smallest detail. And that includes praying.” At the prayer service, teachers tied green ribbons that read “Pray for Mexico and PR” around the wrist of each student. Students had painstakingly lettered the bracelets with ballpoint pen on Sept. 25 in their religion classes. Senior Alexis Clark said she had never been to Mexico before traveling to Mexico City during spring break last year. Now, she said, “A lot of my close friends are there.” Yanisha White, also a senior, said that the school can help more by collecting goods or money for people who have lost their homes or otherwise been affected. “We can donate clothes and things like that,” she said. “I feel like prayer, it’s not enough to help people,” said Yaricsa Hurtado, a junior. “But it’s something we can do right now.” The service club at the school will come up with ways for students to help, perhaps by finding schools to partner with in Mexico and Puerto Rico and raising money to help, even if all students can give is spare change. “We do a lot of bake sales,” she said. Catholic Relief Services, the international aid agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is collecting donations to help those suffering in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Visit www.crs.org to donate.