First, I wish to express the concern of everyone in the Diocese of Lake Charles for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in neighboring Texas. Our prayers and support, especially through the good services of Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana, will be with them in the weeks and months ahead.
Second, in our own Diocese of Lake Charles, I know that Sister Mary Vianney and her staff and volunteers at Catholic Charities, located at 1225 Second Street in Lake Charles, are receiving donations for needed items, which are listed in a separate article on our diocesan website news page.
Third, I have been in touch with all of our pastors on the coast and those that have experienced inland flooding in past storms. The mandatory evacuation order was lifted last Saturday. However, the threat of flooding continues over the next several days due to incessant rain. There is also the ongoing threat of tornadoes. Msgr. Gaddy at Our Lady of the Lake moved his Masses to St. Patrick Chapel because it rests on higher ground. Father Thomas remains at St. Eugene’s. Father Babasino is yet unable to return to Sacred Heart in Creole but soon will return when the road becomes passable. Father Minz also remains evacuated from Hackberry but is remaining in touch with his parishioners to return as soon as possible. Following Hurricanes Rita and Ike, the rectories at Creole, Big Lake, and Hackberry were rebuilt and elevated. The churches, however, remain at ground level, except for Our Lady of the Assumption at Johnson Bayou. All sacramental records and sacred vessels are secure and stored at safe locations. In south Lake Charles, Christ the King Parish, which has been subject to flooding repeatedly in the past has been sandbagged, according to Father Fontenot. A few churches in the city have reported some water incursion. We expect this only to increase in the coming days. We remain watchful and alert, because a tropical storm warning has just been issued for Cameron Parish.
Fourth, our ongoing concern is for our parishioners who may experience flooding or displacement in the future. Catholic schools will remain closed and re-open according to the lead of the public school system. Chancery offices will follow the schedule of the schools. Catholic Charities will remain alert and offer assistance as weather conditions allow. The contact number is 337-439-7436 but because of our own weather conditions the staff may not be able to respond immediately. In the coming days, as circumstances become clearer, further information will be available.
Once again, our concern and prayers remain with the victims. Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us.