Spring Break Mission Trip to Biloxi - 2006

Page 2

Other pages: Page 1 | Page 3

Thanks from the people of Biloxi

A fellow named Jeffrey Fites of Plainfield, whose daughter Kateri is taking part in the mission trip, send me the copy of a letter to the editor that he wrote and that was published in today's Sun Herald, which cover the southern Mississipi area.

He also send along three e-mail responses that he got to the letter. First, his letter:

We send our prayers and also our greatest treasure - our young people

I did not intend to write a letter to the editor, but a recent editorial touched me deeply. It is true that the memory of the greatest natural disaster in our country's history fades as the days on the calendar pass for those Americans unaffected. Yet the needs of Mississippi, especially the poorest among you, remain great.

Something special is happening at Resurrection High School in Pascagoula this week. A group of 110 Catholic youth from the Indianapolis area have traveled to your great city to help families get back on their feet and to realize what it means to truly live a Christian life. I am proud to say my daughter Kateri is among those living in the high school gymnasium and working in your community until Saturday morning.

Here is the Web site blog that tells more of their week-long mission:
http://www. archindy.org/criterion/local/blogs/biloxi-2006/index.html.

For those of us who could not make the trip with our youth, please be assured that you remain in our prayers, never to be forgotten in our memories.

And here are some excerpts of the responses that he received -- all of them heartening:

Thank you for your kind words and for your efforts on our behalf. And I pray a special blessing on your daughter and her friends. We are humbled by their spirit and their sacrifice. The work of their hands will help to rebuild this place that we love, but it is the goodness and love that shines through their work that will help to mend many
broken hearts. Bless you all.

Marie Harris
Opinion page editor
The Sun Herald

I live in Biloxi and was not fortunate to see these wonderful young people in action, but I assure you, their good works have surely caused a tidal wave of love that
will be felt all over the Gulf Coast.

I visited the website and saw the pictures of the kids living and working in the high school gym. Talk about a band of angels! This is what we Catholics should be about....living God's word.

Thank you again for your beautiful daughter, and thank you for your prayers.

-Sue and Austin LeDuke
  Biloxi, MS

Dear Sir: I read your letter to the editor in the newspaper today and
had to respond. My name is Theresa St. Mary and I lived in Pass Christian, MS..

I want to begin by telling you that I have been in awe of all the young people that have come to this area to help us. I lost everything in the Hurricane, my house, which sat 1/2 block from the beach, and all 3 cars. I lost pictures of my three children, my grandmother's antique furniture, etc., but what I have gained throughout this experience has outweighed the loss.

I am in awe and humbled by the young people that have come, but, as a parent, I applaud you for allowing and encouraging your child to come down here.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you my heartfelt thank you.

-Theresa St.Mary

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 3:57 p.m. on April 4, 2006

From the start of Day 3

I'm certain that Katie will send more pictures either later tonight or by early tomorrow morning. In the meantime, she was able to send a few shots that she took at the start of today -- day three of the trip for the youth.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 9:38 p.m. on April 4, 2006

A "super short blog" entry

On her way to a late evening Mass, Katie sent back the following note:

"Day two work is now complete - just a quick update:  Tonight after work and showers we all went to a Chinese Buffet for dinner and returned to the gym for an obstacle course challenge between teams, which is what we just finished.  Now, we are making our way to the chapel for a late night mass before bed."

I realize, of course, that I've been calling this "Day 3," having counted the first day of travel, whereas Katie calls it Day 2. Even more perplexing is that the trip is said to run from "April 1 - 8," even though the official departure was April 2. These are the things that journalists nit-pick about.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the latest news as to whether it is Day 3, 4 or 5.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 10:50 p.m. on April 4, 2006

What day is it?

For those of you interested, Katie and I have conferred and agreed that today is Day 4. Or I told her that that's what we're going to call it. I can't remember ;)

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 10:44 p.m. on April 4, 2006

Making the news

The teens from our archdiocese are making the news in Biloxi -- from a school newspaper to a local television station. Apparently a photo of one of the work groups appeared in print somewhere today -- if anyone knows where I can find it online, e-mail me at bevans@archindy.org and I'll post the link here.

I also noticed that The Sun-Herald, which published a letter to the editor from a parent yesterday, ran a news story about the group today:

Indiana teens work, learn: spring break gives life lessons


PASCAGOULA - Four Indianapolis teenagers helping with hurricane recovery at Resurrection High on Monday said the work isn't hard, but there is a lot to do.

Brian Rochford, Melissa Hollowell, Carrie Syberg, and Tracy Horan spent about seven hours removing mold, stripping paint from walls, sweeping and mopping floors in the convent of the school.

They wanted to come because their school, Ron Calli Catholic High, is service-oriented, and the work is something they are used to doing. Coming to South Mississippi after Katrina is a unique opportunity to help people personally.

If you want the rest, I encourage you to go directly to the story by clicking here.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 9:47 a.m. on April 5, 2006

Another letter about the youth

Jeffrey Fites, who yesterday sent me a letter to the editor of his that was published in a Mississippi newspaper, has sent along another one of the responses that he has gotten, this time from a man whose grown children graduated from the school that our youth are lodging in this week.

The morning here is magnificent, blue skies, cool air, the returning sounds of the birds (absent for so long), reading my daily scripture and remembering how thankful I should be for God's Blessings.

My wife and I live on a small peninsula jutting into the Mary Walker Bayou a mere mile or so from the Gulf of Mexico. Here are 26 houses, of which only 5 survived the ravages of Katrina, mine was one of the 5. Immediately after the storm, we stood looking upon the horror of what had happened, and the realization that we (wife and I) were once again blessed beyond anything we could possibly deserve.

The impact on our friends who lost virtually everything is frightening. From Bayou LaBatre, Alabama to the east to New Orleans on the west the devastation of homes,
houses, schools, churches, everything, is mind boggling. I am a native of the area,
love the people and the place. My wife and I now tear up and weep at the
slightest stimulation, as do so many people who live here.

When I read your article in the local newspaper, I cried.....why? All our hearts are being deeply touched by the love and concern, and.....the actions of others. My children graduated years ago from Resurrection High School. From the deepest part of my soul, I thank you for having a child so connected with the important things of
this life, for your sharing a bit of yourself with us.

When the nation wonders about its' people, children as are so negatively portrayed on tv, movies, etc. all they have to do is come here, see the wonder of it all. I can assure you this, our nation is filled with wonderful, unselfish young people, too bad
they don't get the press.

GOD BLESS you, your children, all our children.


Larry Fornea
St. Mary Parish
Gautier, MS

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 10:40 a.m. on April 5, 2006

Hurricane season

Just a quick link to some hurricane information from CNN.com:

Forecasters predict busy hurricane season

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 2:56 p.m. on April 5, 2006

Scenes of destruction

Here is a message from Katie followed by some photos.

"It’s hard to put into words what exactly I am seeing right now.  I’m sitting in our team van parked at an old Sonic restaurant.  Right now, several teams are along a stretch along highway 90 somewhere near Biloxi and Gulfport.  This strip of beach used to be filled with prosperous restaurants, shops, hotels and casinos, but now they are all gutted.  We stopped here for lunch after being assigned to pick up trash along the beach.  At first it’s easy to think it’s so silly to be picking up trash along a beach when you turn around and see homes and businesses totally destroyed.  I realized then how vital the beach is to this area’s economy and that part of their recovery is to get people back here.

"As we drove for the first time through this devastation, all the students in my van got totally quiet.  What can you say really?  It’s shocking to realize that you’re viewing all of this within your very own country.  This is something you should see on TV of a country in war.  It’s also hard to believe that this is what it looks like six months after the hurricane.  These sights really help to understand the magnitude of the hurricane.

"Later in the day, I hope to put more of my thoughts into words and to get short reflections from several students.  I think it takes some time to take in all we have just seen."

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 3:09 p.m. on April 5, 2006

More scenes of destruction

Here are a few more pictures Katie sent from the youths work on the coast yesterday. Katie has sent me three more sets of photos, another recording and some reflections from students, and I will be posting those as soon as possible.

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 9:29 a.m. on April 6, 2006

A step back in time...

Okay, only a day or two back in time. A few sets of photos from Katie got snarled up in cyberspace somewhere and I just got them this morning. The three photo galleries below are all from April 4, which was Day 3 of the trip. There are a few more shots of the youth working, along with dinner out at a Chinese buffet, fun with an obstacle course and some other evening activities.

Not to be missed: Father Meyer cleaning a toilet.

Working and eating

Obstacle course fun

Prayer in the evening

Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 10:33 a.m. on April 6, 2006

Tuesday's homily

Here is an audio file of Tuesday night's homily (during a Mass celebrated by Father Jonathan Meyer).

The file is, as the previous one was, close to 2 MB. You can either click on the link below to play the file, or you can right click on it, then chose "Save target as" to put the file on your computer.


Posted by Brandon A. Evans at 11:09 a.m. on April 6, 2006

Page 1 | Page 3

Local site Links: