Dear Family and Friends,
What a great day for St. Rosalie Parish and School. The number of people attending morning Mass continues to increase and with school opening today there were several parents and students in attendance as well. After Mass Fr. Jim and I shared Morning Prayer then I quickly went to the parking lot to greet the students, especially our new students to the campus. There was Morning Prayer for the school over the public address system. As I walked the halls there were smiles and lots of tears as well-smiles from many of the kids who shared stories with their friends and cries from the little ones in pre-k and kindergarten who were homesick and did not want to leave their mom’s dress or their dad’s pants.
Classes are crowded into every space-the Youth Center as well as the Guidance Office. Our cafeteria is not up and running yet, so the kids had to bring their own lunch and will do so for the next week or so until we can get a shipment of food items from our vendors. There were some parents who made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those who forgot a lunch or chose to eat that instead of what their family packed. The military was here again this morning, this time delivering ‘kid friendly’ meals-cans of ravioli and meatballs as well as cans of various types of fruit juices. I was happy to walk around and give our Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops.
This morning, before today’s funeral for the grandparent of two of our students, I went to Archbishop Shaw High School and visited our seventh and eighth grade classes. They are so polite and respectful! As I walked into each classroom the students stood up and said, “Good Afternoon, Father.” I shared with them a few of my stories of when I was a student and a teacher in the very same classrooms where these students are now studying. That was, as a student, 1967 and as a teacher, 1974! Wow!
Our Provincial, the Very Rev. James Heuser, sdb, arrived last evening and all of the Salesians in the area gathered for Evening Prayer and supper. He listened attentively to our stories, both institutional (as Churches and Schools) and person. He began his day with a Prayer Assembly at Archbishop Shaw High School then visited the middle school campus of St. Rosalie School which is not usable for at least six months. He came to meet with the principal of St. Rosalie School and walk around the campus here as well as visit with Fr. Jim Curran, sdb, the assistant here at St. Rosalie. He will celebrate Mass tomorrow for the parish at 7am then join in Morning Prayer and a walk-thru again of the area. He will return to New Rochelle, New York tomorrow night. He brought with him the prayers and greetings of Very Rev. Paschal Chavez, sdb, the Rector Major of the Salesian Society who resides in Rome, Italy.
The insurance companies are dragging there feet to approve our claims for new roofs, interiors, and electrical work. There are so many claims to be made by so many institutions and individuals that it is overwhelming for our insurers. As people begin to return to the area, the problem only gets worse each and every passing day.
Parents are on campus doing what they can to help clean up some of the public areas that still need some ‘sprucing up.’ All in all, we are putting things back together slowly but surely. Pray for us.we have come a long way but still have a long way to go to even think about being ‘normal’ whatever that is these days.
Pray for those who are coming home for the first time and realizing that there is no physical home to return to these days. God be with us all!
Mail is slowly being delivered.with postmarks from nearly three weeks ago! UPS and FedEx have stopped by as well with packages for the ‘opening of school year 2005’ stamped on them.
Finally, the door for the front of the Church, which blew off twice-once for Katrina and again for Rita-is being rebuilt and will take its place as our entrance way by the weekend, Thanks be to God!
Thank you for listening to these ramblings. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Fr. Jon Parks, sdb