Remembering Katrina: Episcopalians will recall Katrina's fury with prayers -- and a new house

August 24, 2006

A number of events are planned in Louisiana and Mississippi to commemorate Hurricane Katrina's passage over the Gulf Coast and her aftermath in late August and early September 2005.

In the two days leading up to the anniversary, "Nurturing the Nurturers," an event for teachers and counselors, will be held in Ocean Springs, hosted by the United Methodist Churches (UMC). Grace Christian Counseling Center in Vicksburg, a partner with Holy Trinity and Christ Episcopal Churches, and First Presbyterian and Crawford Street UMC, along with the Mississippi Counseling Association, is offering this opportunity for teachers and counselors to share their stories and receive healing.

August 27

Many Louisiana and Mississippi Episcopal congregations are planning commemorative liturgies on August 27.

Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray III will celebrate Holy Eucharist at the ruins of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Long Beach at 9 a.m. St. Patrick's congregation has been worshipping at Coast Episcopal School, since it was one of six Mississippi Episcopal church facilities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The storm left between a third and half of the congregation's families without homes.

Gray will then travel to St. Mark's in Gulfport for a noon groundbreaking service. St. Mark's, one of Mississippi's oldest churches, was destroyed August 29, 2005 when Katrina made landfall at Gulfport.

Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans, will host an interfaith service to commemorate the anniversary at 4 p.m. Bishop Charles Jenkins will officiate with Rabbi Cohn of Temple Sinai and Imam Rafeeq Numan. Musicians will include the Cathedral Choir, Artist-in-Residence Irvin Mayfield, a brass and percussion ensemble, and Shades of Praise Gospel Choir.

August 28

Bishop George Packard, bishop suffragan for chaplaincies for the Episcopal Church, will be the preacher at a 7 p.m. diocesan-wide observance with Holy Eucharist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. Jenkins will be the celebrant and Gray will attend, along with St. Paul's rector, the Rev. Will Hood. Members of the newly re-opened St. Paul's School will also attend and the school's bell choir will perform music for the service.

August 29

Gray will celebrate services at several locations, beginning at the ruins of St. Peter's By-the-Sea, Gulfport, at 9 a.m., then a chapel service at Coast Episcopal School, Long Beach, 11:30 a.m., followed by another service at 6 p.m. at the ruins of the Church of the Redeemer, Biloxi.

Jenkins has been invited as one of the guest speakers for the Katrina commemoration service hosted by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans at 7 p.m. The service will be held at St. Louis Roman Catholic Cathedral and Minor Basilica at Jackson Square in the French Quarter.

August 30

Episcopal and community services planned elsewhere along Mississippi's Gulf Coast that day and on August 30.

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First Camp Coast Care cabin to go to owner

On his way from Coast Episcopal School to Biloxi on August 29, Mississippi Bishop Duncan Gray III will dedicate and bless the first "CCC Cabin" at approximately 3 p.m. in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The cabins are built at built by volunteers at Camp Coast Care on the grounds of Coast Episcopal School (, then transported to their permanent sites and installed for the homeowners.

The cabins are one- and two-bedroom stick-built dwellings which were developed and designed by Bill Peterson from St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Peterson and about 40 volunteers bought the materials for the shells of the first two cabins and built them at Camp Coast Care. A construction fund at the camp, along with money from Episcopal Relief and Development, Lutheran Episcopal Services of Mississippi (LESM) and Mississippi Association of Realtors (MAR), will allow CCC volunteers to finish interiors of the two houses and moved them into place.

The first one-bedroom unit will be given to the Harrison County (Mississippi) Interfaith Disaster Task Force (IDTF) on land owned by Thomas and Mary Robinson. An elderly couple, and life-long residents of the coast, the Robinsons lived in a family house where Mary was born, and which survived Hurricane Camille on August 17, 1969.

As in many cases along the coast, Katrina's reach was more powerful than the home could bear. LESM, through its case-management approach, identified the Robinsons and their new home will be in place for a day of celebration on August 29. Family and friends will be on site during that morning, helping the Robinsons to move in. In the early afternoon, board and members of the IDTF will contribute the last half-hour of "sweat equity" by painting, cleaning up, and installing appliances. Schedule permitting, Gray will bless the house at approximately 3 p.m. and turn the keys over to the new owners.

This cabin is the first of many which LESM and CCC hope to build.

"We're going to continue to build these houses as an on-going program of CCC and LESM," said the Rev. Nick Roberts, regional director for LESM's Disaster Response unit on the Gulf Coast. "Dollars from ERD and some MAR funds will help things along. This is a particular project -- taking folks who have no way of getting back into a house -- and building a home for them."