Making a difference in New Orleans

omilacombe

(Originally published on omiworld.org)

The OMI Lacombe Province’s Oblate Youth Ministries Team tries to encourage our young people, teachers, parents to recognize how blessed and fortunate we are, and so to be more attentive and responsive to those in need. In February 2011, and again in March 2011, the Oblate Youth Ministries Team, along with several teachers, organized two groups of high school students to respond to the “Katrina Klean-up” in New Orleans, Louisiana, following the terrible hurricane and flooding of August 2005. Six years after the catastrophe, neighbourhoods of New Orleans are still a mess. The youth of École Secondaire Ste. Marguerite d’Youville and St. Albert Catholic High School went to New Orleans… to make a difference!

-We shared in the stories and joys and laughter of Cathedral Academy, an elementary school in the French Quarter.

-We helped to rebuild two houses in St. Bernard Parish.

-We planted several 1000 cypress trees in the swamp area outside the city.

-We painted Ms. Ava’s house, and were blessed to enjoy her children.

-We helped renew an outdoor “Interpretive Center” depicting the early history of the slave trade and immigrants coming in New Orleans.

-We cut grass and cleaned up over-grown yards, so that the absentee owners would not be heavily fined by a city ordinance.

-We planted gardens.

-And we also played and enjoyed the sights and sounds, the culture and tradition of New Orleans.

-A definite highlight was to share the Sunday Eucharist with the parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish – praying to the hospitality and joy and energy of a Jazz Mass.

The hospitality of Fr. Tony RIGOLI and Fr. John MORIN and the people of the parish was overwhelming, leaving many of our youth in tears and heart-felt gratitude. We went “to make a difference”, and I believe we did. However, the greater difference was the “change of heart” for us. The love and acceptance, (and stories) of the people of New Orleans impacted us… they made a difference in us.

 This coming Spring Break, 21 students and 3 staff members from Morinville High School, along with the Oblate Youth Ministries Team, will be participating in another mission to New Orleans. Again, our young people will have an opportunity to meet and work with the people of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. (OYM newsletter, Christmas 2011){jcomments on}