Monday, September 17, 2012


From the Monday, September 17th issue of our local paper, The Times Picaayune.  "Faith-based ministries and local nonprofits still ramping up relief efforts after Hurricane Isaac say it's already clear that this recovery will proceed without the national outpouring of money and volunteers triggered by the power of Hurricane Katrina, meaning it will fall more heavily on the good will of New Orleanians helping each other. "From our point of view, the biggest challenge with this disaster will be getting attention and money," said Gordon Wadge, president of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans."

The above referenced article by Bruce Nolan noted that $107 million dollars flowed into the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Catholic Charities after Katrina.  Post-Isaac both dollars and volunteers are vastly diminished.  Our volunteers are now in the midst of poorly funded operations, lessening support for volunteer groups like Americorps or Café Reconcile, and governmental agencies now assuming ‘faith-based’ agencies are to pick up the slack!  Just in these first two weeks, two of our volunteers are working Saturdays as well as during the week to alleviate needs.  Fortunately, large numbers of Mormon volunteers are coming, bringing all their supplies, including camping equipment, to help gut houses.  There is certainly no shortage of need in the city.

Last  week we started our “routines.”  The volunteers finished with orientations, and began 'regular' work weeks.  On Monday evening we had a community meeting, did a ‘check in,’ and set a time for Morning Prayer and meals.

Charles works mornings each week at Lantern Light Ministry taking care of mail for the homeless who use the center as their address.  He also prepares dinner for the community on Sunday and Monday and shops for staples like milk and bread and fruit.

Bob works Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the business office of St. Joseph’s Parish on Tulane Avenue and is continuing to wind down operations at Operation Helping Hands.  Tuesday and Thursday he works from home on the volunteer program and, for now, Hurricane Isaac clean-up. Bob takes care of dinner on Tuesday and Friday.   [It is today reported in the Times Picayune that Catholic Charities is thinking of restarting Operation Helping Hands!  One wonders.]

John works from home unless he is in a school with the Discovery Walk program or on the road. He does dinner on Wednesday and is another shopper for staples.

Matt Beben works at United Saints, a project of the Methodist Church and Travis Wain works with Helping Hands.  Both programs involve working with the poor in rebuilding the city.  John Petrullo works at Café Reconcile.

Tuesday evening, Matt Beben drove Br. Charles and Br. John to a gathering of religious at the Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross in the Bywater area for a discussion on violence and racism in New Orleans.  Sr. Helen Prejean spoke and discussion followed. 

On Thursday evening Br. Charles and Br. John joined John Petrullo for the graduation ceremonies for a group from Café Reconcile at the Loews’ Hotel on Canal Street.  Matt and Travis were at an Americorps meeting. 
Friday evening, Matt Beben and Travis Wain volunteered as servers at a fundraiser at the Court of Two Sisters in City Park for Boys Hope, Girls Hope, a residential program to assist young people with a stable living and study environment.

Saturday, Matt was with United Saints supervising a large group of Freshmen at Tulane University clearing lots in Center City while Travis was with Helping Hands supervising Frosh from Loyola gutting flooded houses in LaPlace.

On Saturday and Sunday, Good Shepherd Parish hosted the filming of a series on prayer by Fr. Mark Toups, [Director of Seminary Formation for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux], for Ascension Press.  The filming was at St. Henry’s Church; the parish used the first floor of our home, the Blessed Pauline Center to host breakfast, breaks and lunch for the audience of 50 persons.  John coordinated that, as well as a Saturday afternoon meeting of two Sisters of the Holy Faith and 12 possible associates for their community which they held in our living and dining room.  They had originally planned to meet downstairs, but the parish pre-empted that; the living dining area suited them well.

On Sunday, Bob and Charles headed for Mass at St. Gabriel’s in Pontchartrain Park, Br. John went to Mass at St. Stephen’s and Matt, John and Travis went to the 11:00 AM Mass at St. Louis Cathedral. 
Br. John with Sr. Adalberta Mette, SCC, Superior General in May 2010 with relic of Blessed Pauline in background
Br. John then attended a meeting of the Associates of the Sisters of Christian Charity from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM at their residence on Robert E. Lee Boulevard.  The Sisters of Christian Charity lived at the Blessed Pauline Center from 1873 to 1973 and still return here to hold Associate Gatherings.  Their founder, Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt stayed in this house twice with her Sisters.

This coming week Br. John flies to Tampa on Wednesday for Thursday’s 50th Anniversary Celebration for Tampa Catholic High School; he flies back on Friday.

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