.- Religious communities of consecrated men and women have had to leave their missions in the Gulf Coast region and move to higher ground. Hurricane Katrina pummeled the region last week, destroying their homes, retreat centers and other institutions. The Society of Divine Word suffered that fate in Bay St. Louis, Miss., where their provincial headquarters, retreat center and retirement home were located. Everything was destroyed, and the missionary order of priests set up a temporary home at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Lafayette, reported the Associated Press. Thankfully, they moved their elderly out of the retirement home to parishes in the unaffected areas of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, before the storm hit.
Bishop-emeritus Gerard Frey of Lafayette, who had retired to a family home in Bay St. Louis, evacuated to a diocesan retirement home in St. Martinville. His family home was reportedly destroyed by the storm after he evacuated.
Religious orders formerly stationed in New Orleans have also moved to parishes throughout the region though officials are not sure how many or where each have gone, reported the AP.
Given the extensive damages, these religious communities, which are financially independent of dioceses, face massive restoration costs as well. None as of yet have communicated how or where they will rebuild once the clean up is over.