Dear Family and friends,
Today was another difficult day for St. Rosalie parish. We began, as usual, with the celebration of the Eucharist and the numbers begin to pick up. The Harvey Fire Department came during Mass and gave us five cases of fresh fruit to distribute thru the parish. Teachers began to return and view the damage of their classrooms and the school campus. There were many, many tears. At ten o?clock we gathered for a Prayer Service in Church, shared a few stories of faith, and then quickly made plans to begin to clean up.
The U.S. Navy Seabees are on our campus and the U.S. Army are on the middle school campus. They quickly began the work of cleaning and moving things from classrooms to the outside. We have been in contact with our insurance adjuster who has yet to come to the school and help us in assessing damages. More importantly, we need him/her to give the O.K. to do some major work on the buildings. The response we receive is understandable?there are just so many claims out there and only so many adjusters who are living in Baton Rouge and traveling down each day?some four hours of travel due to the roads being clogged with people who want to return to their homes.
The Chefs were out in force today. Two kinds of Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, homemade brownies and fudge, and Rotolo and Martin donated sixty gallons of ice cream to help in the efforts. All day long neighbors and friends, workers and parishioners welcomed people, shared stories, and then began to work.
The middle school at St. John Bosco campus is really ?torn up bad.? To make matters worse, around 11am someone thought there was a gas smell in the school building which then had to be evacuated. The Fire Department arrived, went through the entire building, and said the smell was coming from some ceiling tiles that were burnt as the light fixture in a classroom shorted out as the storm came through the campus. I spent the morning in lines, again, at the bank and the post office. The cell phone is the only way to communicate effectively these days either through calls or messaging. One apartment and one house was found for our displaced teachers. Guaranteeing the first month’s rent with St. Rosalie credit, we hope to move three families in to safe surroundings this weekend: one family in the apartment, two families in the house.
Around 1pm we were fortunate to have a visit from Mr. John Young, who is the Chairmen of the Jefferson Parish Council. He was very concerned, promised his personal support, gave us his private number and said he would be available as needed to help. He is a good Catholic and it was more than a ?photo op? for him, you could see he really cared about the kids and the Church. Many of the teachers and military officials waved as he passed by but did not stop their activity. Mr. Young stopped by to see the cooking crew and shared a bowl of red beans and rice with us for a few minutes. He left the St. Rosalie campus and was going back to St. John Bosco to see their efforts to clean the campus and Church.
As the afternoon wore on, the news of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico began to spread as fast as the lips could carry the words. The Mayor of the City of New Orleans was on the radio and television suspending re-entry plans, and making some temporary plans to evacuate the parish (county) of New Orleans as early as tomorrow morning, depending upon the path of the storm. You could see the anguish on the faces of the teachers, while the kids played games in the courtyard unaware of the events unfolding around them.
Your prayers for the parish and school are much appreciated? keep them coming, please. Know of ours in return?
Fr. Jon D. Parks, sdb