Friday, April 15, 2022

The story of a little church in Louisiana full of hope even after Hurricane Ida


For churches hit by disasters, Easter brings promise of hope


The windows at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church were blown out, and its ceiling, sacristy and vestibule crumbled after Hurricane Ida blasted ashore in August, hitting the small fishing community of Point-aux-Chenes, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of New Orleans.

Since then, its pastor, the Rev. Rajasekar Karumelnathan, has celebrated Mass in the rectory and under a tent in the parking lot. Attendance dwindled after the storm: from about 80 people who used to attend Sunday services to about 15 now.

Celebrating Christmas under the ruins was especially emotional for the congregation, the pastor said. But he expects a lighter mood for their first, post-Ida Easter service, with its promise of eternal life.

“We have lots of hope,” he said. “Easter strengthens us.”

Parishioner Teddy Neal, who lives a half mile from the church, is still rebuilding his storm-damaged home. He would love to see his church and home restored.

“I see Easter as a new beginning,” said Neal, a truck driver. “I’m pretty much humbled, where it doesn’t matter what the conditions are -- as long as I’m present with Jesus during the Eucharist.”

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