Contact: Christopher Heffron
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July 15, 2006     585 Words

Special Section Focuses on Rebuilding New Orleans, Rebuilding Hope

CINCINNATI—After Hurricane Katrina barreled into the Gulf Coast in August of 2005 and pounded the levees, thousands of residents lost their lives and even more were displaced because of the flooding. New Orleans bore the brunt of the damage and became the stage for one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. One year later, the city and its people are still on the road to healing.

St. Anthony Messenger has devoted a special section—three articles and an editorial—of its August issue to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and a few of the city’s residents who were affected by the storm and its aftermath. Entitled “Recovering From Katrina,” the special section will be posted, after July 20, at:

Assistant Editor Susan Hines-Brigger presents a short overview on Katrina’s affect on all the states it hit. The first article in the section, “Higher Ground: The Search for Hope in New Orleans,” by Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron, focuses on Jacob Steubing, a Loyola University graduate who helped New Orleans’s poorest residents during and after the flood; Florence Herman, a New Orleanian and managing editor of the Clarion Herald (New Orleans  archdiocesan newspaper), who lost her house and all that she owned but would not give up her life; and Michigan residents Lynn and Bill Turnbull worked in New Orleans’s most ravaged neighborhoods helping many displaced residents inch closer to recovery.

The second article, “After Katrina: New Beginnings,” by Hines-Brigger, focuses on the Sisters of the Holy Family Congregation in New Orleans, the Oswald family and Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes. Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux, head of the order, and the other sisters, relied on ingenuity, resolve and deep faith to weather the storms and the agonizing days that followed. Their ministries are changing because several buildings they owned were destroyed. The Oswald family escaped the flooding with their lives and left New Orleans for a new city and a new life. Archbishop Hughes drew upon his years of leadership and unshakable faith to shepherd his traumatized flock.

The third article, “Waiting With Father Bart: Rebuilding St. Mary of the Angels Parish,” by Assistant Editor John Feister, features Father Bart Pax, O.F.M., pastor of St. Mary’s and leader of a diverse band of faith-filled volunteers who are helping to rebuild the battered Ninth Ward parish. Feister watched as the Franciscan friar did everything from hammering nails to mending troubled hearts.

The August editorial “Keeping New Orleans in the Headlines,” also by Christopher Heffron, rounds off the special section and presents a broader picture. It details the physical devastation inflicted in several states by Hurricane Katrina and identifies ways to help.

The damage left by Hurricane Katrina is staggering: Eighty percent of New Orleans was under 12-15 feet of water; over 1,800 died along the Gulf; hundreds of thousands more were displaced; the damage in the Gulf totaled at least $75 billion. But one aspect of the city that the floods could not touch is the faith of its people.

Father Bart echoes the hope shared by many whose lives were forever changed by Hurricane Katrina. When asked if he thinks that blessings lie ahead for his congregation and for the city of New Orleans, his enthusiasm is evident. “No! I know there are,” he says, before repeating, “It’s not a matter of thinking it—I know!


Permission is granted to reprint this release.


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