August 18, 2006

Letters to the Editor

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Wanted: More time, talent and treasure to assist Gulf Coast

As a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, I have had the distinct privilege of assisting with two weeklong mission trips to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast this year.

Both trips were substantially financed by the Hurricane Katrina second collections that were conducted across the archdiocese last year.

This year, the archdiocese is again having a second collection for the victims of the hurricane later this month, and I can assure you that help is still needed.

More than 100 youths and adult chaperones just returned from the Biloxi area at the end of July, and the houses that our groups worked on were mostly houses that had not been touched since the hurricane hit. Unfortunately, the momentum for the rebuilding effort seems to be slowing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is largely done with their work in the area, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pulled out on Aug. 15. An amazingly high percentage of the work that still remains will need to be done by volunteers.

Our archdiocese is very well-known along the entire Gulf Coast.

It was our archdiocese that donated $50,000 worth of equipment to help re-open Resurrection High School in Pascagoula, Miss., in the Biloxi Diocese. We had the supplies there two days after the storm hit.

It was our archdiocese that saw 110 youths and young adults give up their spring break to go down to the area and lend a hand.

It was our archdiocese that returned with 90 youths who toiled in the

100-degree heat to tear down houses in July—when most Mississippians said they thought they had been forgotten.

It is our archdiocese that has put in place a full-time, on-site coordinator in the town of Waveland, Miss., to assist groups looking to help with the rebuilding.

It is our archdiocese that continues to send parish teams down to work with parishes where twinning relationships have been formed.

The list goes on. The archdiocese has led the way in terms of rebuilding the Gulf Coast area, and who knows how many lives have been forever changed by our Catholic presence there.

More work is left to be done. I have seen the area myself. There is a light now at the end of the tunnel for most citizens, but it would be wrong to slow our efforts at this point.

The right thing to do is to finish the job, and to finish it well.

Please consider donating time, talent and/or treasure to upcoming hurricane relief efforts, and to the archdiocesan-wide Hurricane Katrina second collection in parishes during the weekend of Aug. 26-27.

To see pictures of our two youth mission trips, visit and follow the links to The Criterion.

-John Hollowell, Indianapolis

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