Five years after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond remembered the dead and thanked those who have helped recovery work. He noted that the symbolic funeral residents held for Katrina shows that it is time “to let her go.”
“Five years ago Katrina, the unwelcomed guest, did ravage on our city and left incredible destruction,” the archbishop said in a video posted on August 29 at the archdiocese’s website.
“We stand here five years later in a spirit of hope and gratitude, with hope for those who have died. We cannot forget the hundreds who died. We commend them to God’s kingdom and ask God’s blessings on their families as they grieve.”
“On Saturday morning we will bury Katrina,” said the archbishop. “We will have a jazz funeral. We’re hoping she doesn’t resurrect. It is a very symbolic gesture … that it is time to let her go. But we must move on to hope and to the future.”
The archbishop expanded on his remarks in a Sunday reflection.
“It would be easy to allow those feelings of confusion, anxiety, and despair from five years ago to creep back into our heads and spirits, but today, we must ask God to help us to rise above those feelings and allow our loving God to replace them with renewed feelings of faith and hope,” he commented.
Acknowledging that he cannot fully understand the emotions of Katrina’s victims because he was not living in New Orleans at the time of the disaster, he said that the strength of people is “amazing.”
“I am constantly inspired by the stories of those who have rebuilt and those who found solace in their faith and in love of God, family and neighbor. This is what makes New Orleans special. Your faith in God inspires me!”
“There is tremendous hope here,” he added in his video.
He pledged help from the Catholic Church to those who are still rebuilding.
“I promise to do all within our means to help you though your pain and your struggles and to be the heart of Jesus Christ to you in your time of need,” he told the disaster’s victims. “We must not forget Katrina, but must use those experiences to grow and strengthen our families and communities so that we may be an example of God’s hope to our neighbors and the rest of the country.”
In the video, the archbishop also praised the “incredible work” of Catholic charities and reported that the organization had helped provide over $55 million in aid to the hurricane’s victims. He thanked other Catholic bishops and Catholics of other dioceses who contributed to the recovery work.
He noted that Catholic Charities’ relief work recently faced a severe shortfall until a gift of $100,000 came from David Blossman of the Abita Brewing Company to help the relief work continue.
Archbishop Aymond also reported that Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints football team, have recently decided to contribute to Catholic Charities’ relief work for Gulf oil spill victims.
“When we seem not to have enough, with the little bit we have and with God’s blessings, we have plenty,” the Archbishop of New Orleans said.
The archbishop has asked all parishes in the archdiocese to say a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to thank her for her prayers and to ask her intercession with Jesus for ongoing protection for the region. He also asked Catholics to join in prayer for New Orleans, asking that Our Lady’s prayers will join them more closely to Jesus.