October 7, 2005

Two sisters help with hurricane relief

By Mary Ann Wyand

Two women religious in the archdiocese have returned home after helping care for people in Mississippi and Louisiana who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Sister Demetria Smith, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa and mission educator for the archdiocese, responded to a request for nurses on Sept. 6 and traveled to Alabama on Sept. 12 for a week of medical service.

“They said there was an urgent need for registered nurses to help out following Hurricane Katrina,” Sister Demetria said. “I was assigned to help in Laurel, Miss., to provide assessments for people with medical needs.”

Sister Demetria, who has ministered in Uganda, said the disaster area resembled the devastation found in many Third World countries because there was no water or electricity.

She said her heart went out to the elderly people, who told her, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.”

Little Sister of the Poor Margaret Banar, who ministers at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis, traveled to Baton Rouge, La., on Sept. 1 to help care for 65 residents evacuated from the Little Sisters’ home in New Orleans and temporarily cared for at St. Clare Manor.

“Two residents from New Orleans are now living in Indianapolis,” Sister Margaret said. “Our home in Mobile, Ala., took 25 of the New Orleans residents. There was only a little bit of roof damage at our home in Mobile. Our New Orleans residents have been placed in other homes now, and probably won’t be going back to New Orleans. It’s just a matter of getting their things to them at the different homes.”

During an interview on Sept. 27, Sister Margaret offered her thanks for prayers and support for the sisters’ ministry to the elderly poor.

“I would like to thank everyone very much for their prayers,” she said. “We’re all in this together, and we need to continue to pray … for all the people who are still suffering or have lost relatives and property. We need to pray that they can keep from getting discouraged.”

Sister Margaret helped care for the displaced residents for two weeks.

“Our residents knew that there was a hurricane and a lot of damage,” she said, “but I don’t think they really realized at the time that they weren’t going back to the home in New Orleans.” †


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