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: AmericanCatholic.org.
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
granted to reprint this release.