Church Ready to Help in Louisiana

The images of the British Petroleum disaster and a monster oil spill creeping closer to Louisiana have triggered unwanted flashbacks for people whose scars from Hurricane Katrina remain raw. “Today we are crying out, ‘Why us, Lord?’” said Tony Fernandez, the former chief criminal deputy sheriff of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office and chairman of the pastoral council of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Chalmette, La. Fernandez, who operates a marina and figures to be heavily affected by the oil spill, said the church must help hard-working people who cannot protect themselves. “It’s been one catastrophic event after another. But our focus is not so much on our sorrow; but it’s on what we can do for others.” The oil spill threatens the livelihood of 300 fishing families in St. Bernard Parish and another 1,000 in Plaquemines. (In Louisiana civil jurisdictions are called parishes.) Gordon Wadge, co-president and chief executive of Catholic Charities says his agency is gearing up for the test to come. “We are going to be making case management and counseling available,” Wadge said. “You also can’t underestimate the value of pastoral presence.”

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