More news from New Orleans

From Father Jon:
Dear Friends,
There is always light at the end of the tunnel…. Today we began with the celebration of Mass in St. Rosalie Church. The Parishoners had to use the side entrance since the front door, blown off by the storm, is still boarded up and had cinder blocks for extra security. There were 11 people at Mass, grateful for the opportunity to gather and pray. Many cried as the Blessed Sacrament was placed once again in the Tabernacle and the sanctuary light was lit for the first time in over two weeks.


The clean up continues, my sister and nephew went to their houses to begin to clear paths for others when they follow. The Entergy Power trucks were seen on the road and on side streets, rebuilding the infrastructure.
Last night, around 1pm the phone rang and it was a neighbor to my sister who said power was restored to her house…a welcomed call at any hour. They promise electricity in all the homes on this side of the river in two weeks. No trucks were seen in our neighborhood, however, even though there are many houses that have no lights tonight.
On a lighter note, the curfew is in effect. Last night, at 7pm I walked through the parking lot of the Church to the parish center. It necessitated that I cross a street. As I was chaining the gate and ready to move from the parking lot to the parish center, a car pulled up next to me to remind me of the curfew. After being grilled by the policeman for some three minutes, he revealed that he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 1905, my own council from the town of Gretna. He smiled and said ‘Be Safe, Father, and get inside!”
Today I visited the hospital to get the mandatory shots, the line was long but a nurse friend called me aside and escorted me to one of the many tents on the hospital grounds that were administering the slightly painful injections. I was called to West Jefferson Medical Center by Mr. Erie Hebert, a parishioner of St. John Bosco, who wanted to use some parish space to house some of the people who were bus drivers from around the area. They were bringing people to and from staging areas, patients, hospital employees, and family members. The hospital itself is secured by the National Guard. Starting tomorrow, some 25 people will use the back of the parish center to rest and sleep. They will stay there, I believe for some two weeks.
On the school front, the Archdiocese has given permission for schools to open up whenever they can, and many in our area are hoping for an October 3rd date. Most of the phone calls to the parish center and rectory, the latter manned by my family, were inquiries about St. Rosalie School and how to transfer students to Archbishop Shaw High School. Some called for Mass schedules, others to find out how some of our elderly parishioners faired in the storm. The rectory has a constant stream of visitors—parishoners, families looking for assistance, and even a local pastor who just wanted to talk about the Saints—who won this past weekend, now isn’t that a miracle! Fr. Mike and Fr. Jim stopped in, and we compared notes on what we were doing these days as well as school plans for each others campuses.
The clean up continues, and will for a long time. You can now see that there are playgrounds around the buildings, and while some windows have board over them, the telephone and power lines have all been removed from their view to the inside and outside.
I visited as well two local fire stations, to thank the women and men who were protecting us these weeks. These were and are staging areas for the military and local authorities. Tonight, at 6:30pm the door bell rang and there was the Fire Chief of the city of Marrero with two ‘take out’ containers of beef stew his crew had prepared for that shift and he wanted to share with my sister and myself. He spoke about some of the parishioners of St. Rosalie that he had seen enter the parish (county) and described their tiredness and anxiety in words that brought us both to tears. Some family members are returning to prepare their homes for elders who are waiting anxiously to return
Tonight beings another dark time period, some have lights, others do not. We are one of the lucky ones who have power and even cable TV which came on today, thanks to the efforts of some parishioners who have control of such things.
There is light to be seen in many ways. Some 45 people have volunteered to come to the school on Monday and begin the task of getting the buildings ready for school. Members of our Altar Society will be in tomorrow and will clean the church. Four of our youth center kids came by today to lend a helping hand, each willing to do what they could to get ‘their home at St. Rosalie’ back up and running, as one young man said. One last note… our parish fair which was to be held at the end of the month has been, obviously, cancelled. However, Mr. Hilton Lirette, our Chair, called and said, ‘Even though we will not have a Fair, we should have our Procession of St. Rosalie’s statue through the streets of Marrero and Harvey as an act of Faith in God, and His saints.” That is what we will do, I am sure.
Thanks for listening, and mostly for your support and prayers. There is a long way to go, but with God’s help and Mary, the Help of Christians to guide us, we will make it.
Fr. Jon

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