Sunday, February 5, 2012


One learns a lot in New Orleans.  We try to participate in everything, even if it involves a $100 raffle ticket.  So begins our tale.Charles and John began the week on Sunday, January 29 at a ‘reverse raffle’ at St. Gabriel Church in Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans East.  It was a process of elimination, with those $100 tickets, to raise money to retire the parish debt.  We were eliminated before the big money rounds but early on won a small signed watercolor of a very pink rose! And we had nice company for lunch and got back home in time for a walk or a nap!

Charles was at Lantern Light on Monday through Wednesday and Bob spent the week at Operation Helping Hands.  At Lantern Light, the number of meals provided is well over 200 a day; there are an estimated 6,700 homeless on our streets.

Wednesday was John’s first day of jury duty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court; he was not called for a case. [He has six more days to go and must report on a selection of Mondays and Wednesdays.] That evening, the Brothers hosted a dinner for members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  

That's Molly to the left of Charles as you face the picture.  That's root beer in the glass!
The group included Ana Roca, Anne Kolar, Lauren Totah, Cara Mc Menamin and Kate Whelan.  Molly Sherry and Allison Maraldo joined us to host the evening and we learned how the Jesuit volunteers function; they met us!  They all interviewed for their positions and now work at a variety of ministries, including Lantern Light where Charles works, Café Reconcile, Success Preparatory School, and Hope House.

On Thursday, John was at Pope John Paul HS in Slidell for a Discovery Walk and on Friday attended meetings at the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans at the University of New Orleans--Lakeside Campus.  Friday was the last day for seven volunteers at Operation Helping Hands who finished up their houses and now move on to other programs, or are returning home.  It was a difficult day.  Bob continues at OHH as the financial work slowly draws to a close.

Front row:  Msgr. Henry Engelbrecht and Msgr. L. Earl Gauthreaux with the Brothers and Fr. MichaelJoseph in the background
Friday evening, the Brothers were with Fr. MichaelJoseph Nguyen at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in New Orleans East for a shrimp dinner honoring Msgr. Henry Engelbrecht on his 70th birthday.  He was the Pastor who welcomed the Brothers to St. Henry’s Parish and was a boon companion until the suppression of the parish two years ago.  Colleen LaRocca cooked, decorated and coordinated the wonderful volunteers.

Catherine Drennan with Br. Joe at Cafe Reconcile in 2010
Bob and John have been invited to submit contributions to a book of reflections by volunteers on the New Orleans volunteer experience. Catherine Drennan, a volunteer here during 2009-10, and Bethany Billman are compiling it.  It will enable a unique group to share their perspective in a format that can speak to their generation.  The community here and our volunteers are not alone in reflecting on where we are and where we are going.

Our religious community, the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, is looking to the future.  Our Congregation Leader, Br. Philip Pinto sent us a letter on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in which he said: “At the heart of the whole enterprise is the relationship with the Mystery we call God.  We dare to enter the Mystery and so to become hope for the world.  This Mystery is our source, our energy, and our passion.”  Philip ended with a selection from a favorite play of mine: A SLEEP OF PRISONERS.  Christopher Fry, in a letter about the play to a mentor, Robert Gittings, said: “And I think we realized then, as we certainly now believe, that progress is the growth of vision: the increased perception of what makes for life and what makes for death.”   Below are the lines Br. Philip Pinto quoted.

Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul we ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise
Is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity's sake!
-- Christopher Fry, A SLEEP OF PRISONERS

 May we strive in everything to perceive, and choose, "what makes for life".

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