Words of hope about serving can be just the thing to fuel prayer.
Katharine Montemurri, Program Coordinator of the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers invited the CVVers who served in New Orleans (see “We can’t wait to hear about their adventures!“) to share their thoughts:
Cassady Allen – In New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) we received the honor of living, praying, and serving alongside the Sisters of Charity for the week. Our main mission was to help build houses in the Lower 9th which was completely destroyed by Katrina 12 years ago. Also, during our trip we were able to have a taste of what it would be like living out a vocation as a Sister of Charity. The best way to describe the trip was humbling and completely filled with grace, oh and lots of laughter! One thing that struck me the most was learning about the resilience both from the city and all the religious sisters living in NOLA. Even though Katrina caused a great amount of destruction both physically and emotionally, the people came together for a greater cause beyond themselves. It was a perfect example how any ordinary person can be a hero.
Lauren Franklin – My trip to New Orleans had such an impact on me that, perhaps for the first time in my life, I can say I fell in love. I fell in love with the resilience of the people in the Lower Ninth Ward, the artistic lure of the French Quarter and the peace of the Sisters of Charity. The zesty culture, my opportunity to take part in it—even by merely helping to build a house for a week and the hospitable hearts of the sisters collided to make a week full of the most unexpected encounters of Christ’s love.
Allison Duber – I didn’t quite know what to expect going to New Orleans. I was only eleven years old when Hurricane Katrina happened and I grew up in a little suburb in Cleveland, Ohio. Hurricanes were only something that I saw on the news, and even then, I didn’t understand the destruction it could cause to homes and to families. When we drove down the narrow streets of the Lower 9th ward, I was shocked to see that there were still abandoned lots where houses once stood. I couldn’t believe that after 12 years, homes and neighborhoods weren’t fully rebuilt yet. The poverty of the neighborhood definitely stood out, but hearing the stories of the resilient people who persevered that disaster was inspiring. This experience is something I won’t ever forget!
Christin Seward – I had so much to learn from New Orleans, and I was so grateful to do this with the Sisters of Charity. The sisters threw us right into the history, culture, traditions, struggles, and even the wonderful food, of New Orleans. I had only a surface level’s knowledge of what the city has been through, especially with Katrina. As we drove through the city, the sisters would point out how high the water had risen in each neighborhood. They took us to the Louisiana State Museum’s Katrina exhibit, where I heard many stories seldom told. You don’t often hear about those who made it to safe ground, but yet still waited days in blistering heat without any busses coming for rescue. I also didn’t realize that entire neighborhoods, even 12 years later, still remained flattened and abandoned. Those brave enough to return home do so without neighbors or access to basic human needs like laundromats or grocery stores. We were blessed to meet one of those brave men, Burnell Cotlon, who did return to his neighborhood and built the first (and still only) market in the Lower Ninth Ward (which has now also grown into a laundromat, kitchen, barbershop, and wifi hub) just so his neighbors can access these basic needs. Despite the hurt New Orleans has been through, there is an incredible abundance of hope. All of the rich food, music, and vibrant colors of New Orleans seem all the more richer knowing its story of resilience, and persistent hope.
Do you share these feelings when you serve? Share them with your Vincentian sisters and brothers by clicking this link!