In the Wake of Katrina, Calls for Prayer

«We Are Overwhelmed,» Says New Orleans Archbishop

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, AUG. 31, 2005 ( Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans gathered with the governor of Louisiana and religious leaders to pray for the survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

«We are so overwhelmed, we do not know how to respond,» Archbishop Hughes said today in Baton Rouge, according to the Times-Picayune newspaper.

The prelate did offer a suggestion: Turn to prayer. The archbishop read from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: «We know that all things work for the good of God … if God is for us, who can be against us?»

Governor Kathleen Blanco concurred. «We need a higher power right now,» she said. «There are a lot of people to pray for.»

The governor asked residents to spend the day in prayer.

«That would be the best thing to calm our spirits and thank Our Lord that we are survivors,» she said. «Slowly, gradually, we will recover; we will survive; we will rebuild.»

Thousands feared lost

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, meanwhile, warned that the hurricane probably killed thousands of people in the city. Two levees were breached a day after the hurricane struck the region, leading to the flooding of the below-sea-level city.

At least 100 people were reported dead in the neighboring state of Mississippi.

Catholic Charities USA is preparing to help in the rebuilding process in the Gulf Coast.

«The mission of Catholic Charities USA is to rebuild lives; our niche is long-term disaster response,» spokeswoman Shelly Borysiewicz told ZENIT.

«We are now trying to decide what the best response will be, whether it’s housing, resettling people in other cities or job placement,» she said. «We’re in for the long haul.»

Typically in emergency situations, such as the aftermath of a hurricane, Catholic Charities USA offers mental health counseling, temporary housing or housing assistance vouchers and emergency cash assistance to those who have lost jobs, Borysiewicz said.

Aid programs

Catholic Charities USA has a Web site for relief aid at, and the phones have been «ringing off the hook,» Borysiewicz said.

«Once we determine everyone’s needs, we’ll distribute all donations to the local Catholic Charities agencies in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina,» she said.

The U.S. bishops have asked that dioceses make a special collection for the hurricane victims to be distributed through Catholic Charities USA.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut-based Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus provided initial relief funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida today.

Knights of Columbus members and the general public are asked to donate to a disaster relief fund administered by Knights of Columbus Charities.

Donors in the United States should make checks payable to Knights of Columbus Charities USA and send them to:

Knights of Columbus Charities USA Inc.
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 9028
Pittsfield, MA 01202-9028
Attn: Hurricane Katrina Relief.

Donors in Canada should make checks payable to Knights of Columbus Canada Charities and send them to:

Knights of Columbus Canada Charities Inc.
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 7252 Station A
Toronto, ON, M5W 1X9
Attn: Hurricane Katrina Relief.

The Knights, the world’s largest Catholic lay organization, says that 100% of contributions will go directly to hurricane relief, and all donations to Knights of Columbus Charities are tax-deductible.

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