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  September 5, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 15Oakland, CA

articles list

Churches mobilize with funds, prayers for hurricane victims

Houston Catholic parishes rally to aid arriving hurricane refugees

Safe Environment training aims
to protect children from abuse

Vatican review of all seminaries to begin in U.S. this month

Retreat for abuse survivors set for Oct. 8-9

Diocese has guidelines for abuse prevention

Catholic Conference aims to defeat marriage bill

Home for pregnant women in desperate need of funds

Nun remembered for her ‘life’ work

World Youth Day
Youth urged to reject ‘Do-it-Yourself’ religion

Pope makes historic gestures to Germany’s Muslims and Jews

Mindanao provides model for peacemaking

Honduran priest struggles for economic justice

New pastor hails spirit of W. Oakland parish

Hundreds of Catholics gather in Fremont for India Day

Prayers to end violence

























Churches mobilize with funds,
prayers for hurricane victims

Judy Archer of St. Raymond Parish in Dublin remembers when Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in 1965. She was eight years old and had to be plucked from the roof of her family’s home. She walked barefoot along a mile of railroad track to reach a shelter.

She and her family recovered, but as she saw the devastating photos of Katrina’s destruction last week, she worried about how the residents of an area stretching from Louisiana to Alabama will ever be able to rebuild their lives. Especially the poor and destitute, who had so little before the hurricane and now have nothing.

Catholic Charities USA and other religious organizations are mobilizing relief efforts to aid them.

Experts with disaster relief say past efforts with hurricanes — including the four that hit Florida last year — will help them organize. Lessons learned from December’s South Asian tsunami will also be applied.

“Just the magnitude of the area that’s been impacted alone suggests that this is going to be a situation that’s going to take probably close to a decade for folks to fully recover,” said the Rev. John McCullough, executive director and CEO of the New York City-based Church World Service.

Father Richard Greene, spokesman for the Diocese of Lafayette, La., said people in his area — 135 miles northwest of New Orleans — have responded to requests from authorities to provide small boats to help rescue stranded hurricane victims.

“Parishioners called asking for me to pray for them,” Father Greene said. “They’re leaving their families and homes to help rescue people. When I asked them how long they would be gone, they said, ‘However long it takes.’”

That beneficent spirit is evident throughout the area. Two Baton Rouge parishes opened their gyms for residents evacuated from two Catholic nursing homes in New Orleans. A Protestant church near Interstate 10 fixed several hundred hot meals for evacuees driving by and planned to continue to do so for at least a week.

Father Howard Hall of Baton Rouge housed refugees in his residence.

A Catholic chaplain in New Orleans, who was among the last to leave the city the day before the hurricane hit, found shelter in a Hindu temple in Jackson, Miss. with people from India. “No rooms were available anywhere and a motel gave me their info,” he wrote in an e-mail to friends. “They were very welcoming.”

Wendy Lococo, an administrator of Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in the New Orleans suburb of Algiers, helped transfer retired priests and lay people from the flooded metropolitan area to a Catholic high school in Alexandria, La., 200 miles away.

“We are all now care providers, regardless of what our responsibilities were before, since we don’t know when or if we can go back to New Orleans,” she said.

On Aug. 31, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Hurricane Katrina probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans. “We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the waters” and others dead in attics, he said.

The death toll in Mississippi had reached at least 110. Both Biloxi and Gulfport received extensive damage. Gulfport’s fire chief estimated that at least 75 percent of the buildings sustained major damage. Sister Donna Gunn of Catholic Charities in Mississippi said her agency will need significant funds to help in the relief effort.

Besides rescue and physical aid, residents throughout the area are seeking spiritual comfort. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Catholic, called for Aug. 31 to be a statewide day of prayer.

“I know, by praying together on Wednesday, that we can pull together and draw strength we need — strength that only God can give us,” she said in a statement.
New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes, who was evacuated to Baton Rouge, spoke on television Aug. 30, assuring people of his support.

Rev. McCullough of Church World Service said the tsunami has taught him and other religious relief workers the importance of giving people time to grieve over their personal losses.

“We want to be careful that we don’t just simply rush in to begin reconstruction but to really provide adequate time to deal with the human dimension,” he said.

Father Peter Metrejean of the Lafayette Diocese, in an e-mail message, said, “There will be much depression to deal with in the weeks ahead.”

“The most heart-wrenching stories,” said Father Hall, “are of families separated – a five-year-old on a rooftop alone, a parent who had to decide which of seven family members could enter a two-person rescue boat.”

Donations for Hurricane Katrina victims can be sent to:
Catholic Charities USA
P.O. Box 25168
Alexandria, VA 22313-9788

A man puts a baby on top of his car as he and a woman abandon their car in New Orleans while trying to escape Hurricane Katrina, Aug. 29 The storm wreaked havoc with the city's levee system and by Aug. 31 most of New Orleans was under several feet of water. Officials were trying to evacuate everyone who remained, including more than 20,000 people who'd sought shelter in the Superdome.





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