Reopening process begins for Catholic schools in Gulf Coast region

By Catholic News Service

METAIRIE, La.(CNS) -- Thirty-two Catholic schools in Jefferson Parish, a civil entity next to New Orleans, reopened Oct. 3 after being closed since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Aug. 29. The schools include 26 elementary schools and six high schools.

The Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of New Orleans also opened Oct. 3 at a site on the Archbishop Rummel High School campus in Metairie.

The Web site for the Archdiocese of New Orleans lists two schools elsewhere in the archdiocese that are closed for the year and two that are closed for an undetermined amount of time. Some schools have already reopened; many have projected opening dates and some have opened satellite schools in other locations.

Three Josephite-run high schools in New Orleans were considering joining together to form a coed satellite high school on the Xavier University Preparatory School campus in New Orleans.

In the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss., six schools were destroyed and four have major damage. Currently nine schools are open and seven are scheduled to reopen. Schools are not always reopening in their original facilities. For example, Mercy Cross High School in Biloxi reopened in a former Catholic high school and St. Thomas Elementary School in Long Beach was scheduled to begin holding classes again Oct. 3 at a local roller skating rink.

Resurrection Elementary School in Pascagoula, Miss., was also scheduled to reopen Oct. 3, thanks in part to volunteer crews from Jesuit-run Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., who visited the school a few times to get it back into shape.

The Spring Hill group arrived at the school equipped with gallons of bleach, a pressure washer, hammers and gloves. They removed furnishings and debris, washed away mud and mildew, power-washed hallway floors and scrubbed classroom walls.

"There are so many people there who need help," said James Brennan, a Spring Hill sophomore who was on the cleaning crew. "They can't get the help they need because the entire community is in the same situation. It really is up to those outside who have not been affected terribly to pitch in."

Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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