.- Priests from across the United States are volunteering to provide pastoral assistance to the people in the areas struck by Hurricane Katrina. Dioceses also are offering liturgical items, such as chalices and processional crosses, to replace those destroyed by the hurricane.
Offers of assistance started coming in soon after the storm hit, said the U.S. bishops' Office for Priestly Life and Ministry in Washington, which has been coordinating the priest-volunteers.
The Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, for example, offered two priests to work outside the diocese and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said it could assign up to 12 priests.
In addition, priests in dioceses to which thousands of people have been evacuated, such as Salt Lake City and Phoenix, have been released from regular assignment to help displaced people. In Phoenix, the diocese has set up four-hour shifts of priests to help evacuees in the Phoenix Coliseum.
Dioceses also are offering housing for the displaced priests both in rectories and retirement centers.