Dear Family and Friends,
Today we celebrate the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We reflect upon the call of the Gospel to follow the Christ each and every day, recognizing that we are sinners who are in need of God?s love. When we help others, especially our family, we build up the Kingdom of God on earth and are blessed a hundredfold by our loving God.
Yesterday at our Vigil Masses we prayed for all the victims of the latest hurricane Rita and watched as our levee system was strained to the limits. The Marrero Fire Marshall came by at 5pm and said that there may be a mandatory evacuation within the next two hours, depending upon the height of the water and the pressure against the levee along the Harvey Canal, just two blocks from the parish buildings. He drove me up and down Destrahan Avenue and we saw sandbags being placed in two critical spots. The flood gates were closed below the city of Harvey but the wind, some 30 miles an hour, coming from the south just pushed water over the gate walls up through the channel. The forecast last night was more rain, some 3-5 inches as well.
After the 6pm Mass I packed a bag, had my sister come and pick up Fr. Jim Curran?s car and bring it to her house, some 15 miles away, and prayed. We did get a light rain that began about 10pm and continued past midnight. Sleeping in the lounge chair in the living room, I waited for word from the fire marshall. He called around midnight to say that the sandbags were holding in the upper Harvey area but that in lover Harvey there was water flowing over the levee but it was contained.
This morning, as I was opening up the Church, a state police office stopped to check to see if I ?belonged in the area? as he said. I thanked him for keeping us safe but assured him that I was the pastor and was simply opening the Church for the day.
As I prepared for the 8am Mass the phone rang and the word was that the levees were holding. I looked out the back window of the Church and to my amazement there were three Navy SeaBee trucks pulling into the parking lot. The had come back again to finish the work they had started yesterday. Their Chief agreed to let them come one more day to clean up and with military efficiency they filled two more industrial dumpsters with trash. At the 11am Mass twenty-two attended Mass with three more joining our Choir in praising God. As I thanked them at the beginning of the homily, the Church broke out in spontaneous applause which lasted for a few minutes, as a sign of our gratitude for the work they were doing for the parish and especially for the kids.
Since we did not plan on them being here, I invited the parishioners to bring desserts to the parish center as a sign of appreciation. Well, here are a few of the items that were brought in: 20 hamburgers from McDonalds, 4 family packs of fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, deer sausage (yes, that what I said, deer sausage) macaroni and cheese to mention a few, and cakes and cookies of all kinds. The troops came in and feasted on a buffet that was second to none. When they left the property at 3pm they were eager to take the left overs back to the barracks for a snack later in the night.
At 5pm I drove one last time along the levees of Harvey and saw the water level fall some four inches. The sun is shining and God is continuing to smile upon the people of St. Rosalie. Tomorrow is another day, clean up and assessment.
We have received bids for the first series of repairs:
a) the cafeteria here at St. Rosalie: $95,500.00
b) the school building roof for building 2: $58,000
c) the Family Life Center at St. John Bosco: $98,500.00
d) the elementary school main building: $95,500.00
These are the first of many bids that have been accepted and we hope to begin repairs as early as tomorrow. Bids for air conditioning and heating systems and the rebuilding of the inside of these four buildings will follow this week. The insurance adjuster has yet to step foot on our campus but through faxes, emails and phone calls.
Tomorrow we hope to start to order textbooks for the kids?imagine calling up the textbook company and saying, ?please send us as soon a possible 1000 Bibles, English, reading, math, science, history and computer books for our kids and can we have them here by this Friday, September 30th. (Mail service is suppose to resume this week, pray God).
Well, thanks again for listening, for your prayers, and your generousity.
Blessings and Grace.
Fr. Jon D. Parks, sdb