Remember Hurricane Harvey?
For the people of Port Arthur, Texas, “Do you remember Hurricane Harvey?” is not an odd question rather it hints at their worst fear given the quantity of disasters we’ve witnessed since August. It’s the fear of being forgotten.
The good news is that Old St. Pat’s has not forgotten either Harvey or the people most hurt by the storm’s torrential rains.
In fact, we have organized a relief and recovery effort with St. Joseph Catholic Church and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Port Arthur – two communities hard hit in southeast Texas.
Preliminary work is underway to create a plan that will further help their members and families recover. In September, St. Catherine waived all tuition payments in order to ease the financial burden on poor families and to keep students engaged in learning despite the crisis.
Next weekend, we will formally launch our relationship building program. Currently, our plan includes:
- Taking up a collection at all masses that will go directly to needs identified by the pastor and principal respectively.
- Launching a simple registry-style website for specific donations for families, most especially cash and gift cards for local businesses — including groceries and building materials stores, and
- Hosting, after all the masses, a table staffed by volunteers to discuss current work and plans for future efforts including fundraising and volunteer services trips.
Choosing who to help
St. Joe’s and St. Cat’s (as they are known by their parishioners and students) were identified with the help of friends at Catholic Extension. Both communities were hard hit by the storm and are located in the Diocese of Beaumont, a Catholic Extension mission diocese. Mission dioceses are identified as such because they are isolated and/or financially under-resourced.
In addition, OSP member Dan Quinn has been volunteering in Beaumont since mid-September, and he has helped to establish direct contact between leadership at St. Joe’s and OSP, and St. Cat’s and FXW.
The sheer quantity of devastation in the U.S. and Mexico this late summer has stunned us all. From earthquakes to hurricanes, and fires to floods, it’s virtually impossible not to be overwhelmed by the need exposed by the disasters.
We are well aware that we can’t sit on the sidelines or be all things to all people. But we must, as disciples of mercy and healing, do what we can with what we have as Teddy Roosevelt once said. So with that in mind and heart, we start with Texas.
Knowing that the need will continue, especially in areas like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we will continue to consider our options. Our invitation to you, the people of OSP, is to join us as we look at ways we can be church, and offer support to those who are impacted by catastrophes.
Our Church is on a mission to care for one another and to grow in relationship with people wherever they may live Northside or south, Beaumont or Lawndale, downtown or suburb, island or mainland. We have been given much and we are ready and able to share our gifts.
To get involved or ask questions, please contact volunteer chairperson, R. J. McMahon, at email@example.com.