“We give thanks for the community” is our mantra here in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana as we reflect on the 10th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on August 29th and Hurricane Rita on September 24. Weighing heavy on our hearts though is the grief of all the people who suffered (still suffering) unimaginable loss and for whom this anniversary brought back nightmarish memories. At this anniversary we want to give thanks to the people across our diocese and across the world who came together to shine the light of God on all those suffering. Relief efforts began immediately after the storm and a few of the programs born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are still operating today.
We applaud all those who gave of their time to bring our storm ravaged diocese back to life and provided hope to so many. Thank you to all those, especially the churches in the northern parts of our diocese, who received and cared for the hurricane evacuees. Thank you to the 15,000+ people from around the world who volunteered with us to gut flooded homes, float drywall, paint, serve meals, offer prayer and support, held our hands and listened to our stories. Thank you to all those who made donations to help us rebuild our churches, our community, our homes. We give thanks to Episcopal Relief and Development for being an early partner in our recovery. You stood by our side throughout these years and we are truly grateful.
Listed below is a look at the relief work of our churches starting from the first early days after the storms through around 2007. The information was complied from Churchwork, Episcopal Community Services Newsletters, Diocesan Journals, and our collective memories. Please let us know if we, unintentionally, left your church’s efforts of this list. We are, however, intentionally not mentioning any one person’s name. This is for several reason. Mainly, once we do, we know we will leave off the important work performed by too many people and once we start this list would never end. We give our thanks to God for you!
Click here to read Empowering Change for a New New Orleans: 540 days since Katrina (2007)
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from October 2005
St. James parishioners and clergy volunteered at shelters housing hurricane evacuees in the Baton Rouge area. They cooked and delivered breakfast every morning. They also provided shower facilities in the evenings at the church.
The Baton Rouge area clergy worked in shifts to provide pastoral care to evacuees in shelters.
St. James provided office space to staff members of the Bishop’s Office, Trinity Church in New Orleans, and Christ Church Cathedral, and any clergy in need of a place to work. They also offered daily Eucharist.
Episcopal High in Baton Rouge provided office space to the administration office of St. Martin’s School in Metairie. They also created an evening division of classes to accommodate 700 additional students.
The Episcopal schools in Baton Rouge (St. James. St. Luke’s, and Trinity), Covington (Christ Episcopal), and Houma (St. Matthew’s) opened their doors to students from schools in the New Orleans area.
The Office of Disaster Response was formed in September 2005 to assist in assessing damage and needs of churches; receive and process offers of money, goods, volunteers, housing, employments, and church partnering; and coordinate the distribution of goods and services.
St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, housed in their parish hall 25 – 30 families of infants in the intensive care unit at the nearby Women’s Hospital. They provided housing and meals. St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, housed federal law enforcement officers.
St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, delivered water and food to Bogalusa (even before federal aid arrives) and Covington.
St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, shared office space with Church of the Annunciation, New Orleans.
St. Augustine’s Church, Baton Rouge, volunteered with relief efforts in Baton Rouge.
St. Alban’s Chapel, Baton Rouge organized school supplies for the 10,000 displaced students who enrolled at Louisiana State University after the hurricane.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from November 2005
St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, purchased an RV, called the Mobile Respite Care Unit, for the diocese to be used for delivering supplies and offering pastoral care to hard hit areas. Some of the regular distribution points were located at Church of the Annunciation and in the Lower Ninth Ward at the corner of Caffin and St. Claude Ave (what is now the location of All Souls Episcopal Church). Volunteers came from St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge; St. Mark’s, Harvey; Holy Spirit, Baton Rouge; and Christ Church, Slidell.
St. Matthew’s, Houma, distributed cleaning supplies, food and water.
St. Andrew’s, Bayou Dularge, distributed supplies donated from a church in Delaware. St. Luke’s, Baton Rouge, assisted in the distribution.
Grace Church, St. Francisville, provided food and other services to evacuees and those who relocated to West Feliciana Parish.
St. Margaret’s organized and delivered (by airlift) baby formula and baby supply to Bogalusa after word got out that supplies were running out in the town. St James purchased many of the supplies.
The diocese and St. Margaret’s hosted a Day of Reflection and Preparation for clergy, spouses, and church staff.
St. Margaret’s housed and fed volunteers from Arkansas who traveled to Louisiana to cut and remove trees.
Parishioners from St. Paul’s / Holy Trinity in New Roads housed families from churches in New Orleans.
Christ Church, Slidell, distributed relief supplies from their parish hall.
St. Michael’s and All Angels held services for parishioners from St. Luke’s, New Orleans.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from December 2005
Christ Church Cathedral distributed relief supplies, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, school supplies, toys, clothing, and water.
Christ Church Cathedral held a concert, entitled “All the Saints” to commemorate the Cathedral’s bicentennial and Hurricane Katrina. The concert featured Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The audience filled the Cathedral and spilled out on to the steps and into the chapel. It was named one of the most poignant post-Katrina musical moments in a recent article in the Times Picayune. The day before the concert, a service to celebrate the bicentennial of the founding of Christ Church was held at the Cabildo, the location of the first church services on November 17, 1805. A second-line parade was also held that marched through the French Quarter to St. Louis Cemetary #1. This was the first second-line parade held in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Chapel of the Holy Comforter distributed relief supplies, cleaning supplies, snacks, and water.
Chapel of the Holy Comforter organized neighborhood clean-up days for the Lakefront and Gentilly neighborhoods. On the clean-up day in the first year, St. James provided the mid-day meal for volunteers.
Chapel of the Holy Comforter housed a temporary day care center for University of New Orleans faculty and students.
Holy Communion organized a chain saw crew to cut fallen trees & branches in Metairie (Parishioners of St. Martin’s)
St. Paul’s, New Orleans, provided pastoral care to their neighbors.
St. George’s shared their office space with Grace Episcopal Church.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from February 2006
Trinity, New Orleans, started a chapter of Mobile Loaves & Fishes in New Orleans to deliver meals to volunteers and those returning to work in their flooded homes. They also distributed books to flooded libraries. This ministry is still operating today but now as an independently operated ministry renamed Trinity Loaves & Fishes. They deliver meals, toiletries, and clothing to those who need it. (Learn more Trinity Loaves and Fishes here)
Trinity, New Orleans, provide pastoral, monetary, and material support to the New Orleans community: 1) Trinity Social Services- a program that helped families with food, clothing, and household goods; hosting FEMA job fairs; and assistance in navigating the services available in the city; 2) Trinity Counseling and Training Center- provided counseling to those struggling with the aftermath of the hurricanes; 3) Helped raise funds for St. Thomas Community Health Clinic to hire a pediatrician and nurses to care for the expanded post-hurricane patient caseload; 4) Started Trinity Connects to stimulate partnerships and collaborations among community leaders to address housing, education, medical care, mental health, and employment.
St. George’s opened the Dragon Cafe for a hot dinner twice a week serving neighbors, parishioners, volunteers, and relief workers. Volunteers working in the Dragon Cafe came from St. George’s, St. Philip’s, St. Andrew’s in New Orleans, Chapel of the Holy Spirit, St. Martin’s, and from volunteers across the country. This ministry is still in operation today feeding breakfast to the homeless on Sunday mornings. (Learn more about the Dragon Cafe here)
Church of the Annunciation worked and continues to work to revitalize and advocate for the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans. They began immediately after the hurricane doing relief work and distributing cleaning supplies and food. The focus eventually moved to restoration by rebuilding playgrounds, landscaping, helping to reopen a school, and rebuilding over 100 homes. Annunciation has hosted over 12,000 volunteers from across the country as part of their volunteer program. (Learn more about the Volunteer Program here)
The schools around the diocese held supply drives.
Parishioners from Church of the Holy Communion, Plaquemine, repaired a home for a parishioner of St. Andrew’s, Bayou Dularge.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from April 2006
With a grant from Episcopal Relief and Development, The Office of Disaster Response opened compassion centers operating out of St. Luke’s, New Orleans; St. Paul’s, New Orleans; Chapel of the Holy Comforter; the Urban Ministry Center (located next door to the Bishop’s Office), and one in LaPlace in partnership with Grace Community Services.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from May 2006
The Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative was formed as a partnership between the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, Episcopal Relief and Development, Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity Church, and a local bank. Jericho Road, now a ministry of Christ Church Cathedral, continues to operate to this day and serves to revitalize the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans by building and selling affordable homes to low and moderate income families, vacant land management, and engaging and building networks among the neighbors. (Learn more about Jericho Road here)
St. Anna’s Church started the St. Anna’s Mobile Medical Mission to provide free health screening, health care services, and health education. They traveled throughout the Greater New Orleans area providing care, especially areas that had no hospitals. The St. Anna’s Medical Mission is still in operation today. (Learn more about the St. Anna’s Medical Mission here)
St. Anna’s formed the Ministry to Musicians, a once a week feeding ministry, a place for musicians to perform, and receive health care.
As volunteers began arriving in New Orleans, the following churches started volunteer housing programs: St. Andrew’s, Chapel of the Holy Spirit, St. Augustine’s, St. Martin’s, St. Luke’s, St. George’s, St. Mark’s, and Church of the Annunciation. All Souls Church would later form a volunteer housing program. The programs at Church of the Annunciation and All Souls are still in operation today.
Starting in 2006, the Office of Disaster Response added house gutting, house repair and case management to its services. Thousands of people (around 15,000) from around the diocese, the United States, and the world volunteered with the rebuilding program.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from September 2006
St. Philip’s, New Orleans, started an Emotions Anonymous Group to assist those having a difficult time coping with the problems of rebuilding and recovery after the hurricane.
St. Anna’s hosted a memorial service for those whose pet died during the hurricane.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from October 2006
All Souls Episcopal Church formed by the Episcopal Diocese and Church of the Annunciation in the Lower Ninth Ward as a parochial mission station. The church was named to honor those souls who will find the church and for those who were lost in the flood water of Hurricane Katrina. They held services in a garage of a parishioner.
Christ Church, Covington, in collaboration with the St. Tammany Outreach for the Prevention of Suicide formed a suicide prevention program. In addition they offered free counseling to children through a support group of those between ages 6-11 dealing with the issues of grief and loss after the hurricane.
Christ Church, Slidell, formed a counseling program to assist those struggling with grief and loss after the hurricane.
The residents of Christwood Retirement Home launched a project called “Delacroix-to-Go” providing food and household supplied to residents of Delacroix, LA.
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from November 2006
St. Paul’s, New Orleans, and St. Luke’s, New Orleans, formed Homecoming Centers that allowed families returning to the neighborhoods access to case management services, child care, computer access, food, laundry facilities, a place to organize community meetings, and so much more.
The St. Luke’s Homecoming Center advocated for the residents of the 7th Ward, Treme, and Mid-City neighborhoods of New Orleans. They held a summer camp for children called Camp Ubuntu. They housed thousands of volunteers coming into the city to help in the rebuilding.
The St. Paul’s Homecoming Center advocated for and helped to rebuild the homes of residents of the Gentilly and Lakeview neighhorhoods. Thousands of volunteers have worked with the St. Paul’s Homecoming Center. It is still in operation today but now serves day to day as the St. Paul’s Senior Center. (Learn more about the St. Paul’s Senior Center here)
Click here to read selected Churchwork articles from 2007
St. Andrew’s, New Orleans, started an early learning center at the church to provide affordable childcare in post-Katrina New Orleans . It is still in operation today. (Learn more about St. Andrew’s Cottage)
Chapel of the Holy Spirit opened the Katrina Legal Outreach Project to provide information and legal assistance on hurricane-related issues.
St. Anna’s offered ESL classed to support the large influx of immigrant labor primarily from Central America. The program grew and became a large community who called it Oportunidades NOLA.
St. Augustine’s offered ESL classes to those living in and around the city of Metairie.
St. Anna’s started the Murder Ministry (the Murder Board) to bring attention and start a dialogue about the violence plaguing New Orleans and to recognize that all are children of God- both victims and perpetrators. This is still an active ministry of St. Anna’s (Learn more St. Anna’s Victims of Violence Program here.)
Out of the Murder Ministry, a program called Horns for Guns was formed. Horns for Guns was a gun buy-back program that sought to channel youth into arts programs. Horns for Guns led to the founding of Anna’s Arts for Kids in 2010 and another community program called Roots of Music. (Learn more about Anna’s Arts for Kids here)
In September 2007, the House of Bishops meet in New Orleans. The bishops and their spouses took part in a “Day of Service” doing everything from rebuilding houses to serving food. One of the most memorable moments was the ecumenical service held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center where the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, preached and celebrated.
All Souls Episcopal Church moved to the former Walgreen located at St. Claude and Caffin Ave in the Lower Ninth Ward. The Most Rev. Dr. Rowand Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, dedicated the building when he came to New Orleans to attend the House of Bishops Meeting. The church immediately become involved in ministering to families in the Lower Ninth Ward offering programming for children, distributing supplies and food to neighbors returning to rebuild their house. Many of these programs are still operating today. (Learn more about the Afterschool Program, Camp SOAR, Music Program)
Click here to read The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana: Moving Forward in Ministry (published 2008)
Read the Episcopal News Service Series Out of Deep Water, a week long series covering the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
These were long and tiring years but our diocese came out stronger and the lessons learned enabled us to respond effectively to the disasters (Hurricane Gustav, the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, Hurricane Isaac…) that followed. We learned to do God’s work in new and unique ways. We learned to listen to and respond to where God was calling us. We got to know our neighbors. Over the past decade there have been many ministries formed built on those lessons learned. We pray we will never forget.
Visit the Episcopal Asset Map to learn more about all the outreach ministries found throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.
Ministries still operating today:
As you read above, some of the programs born in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are still in operation today. While they may have changed focus, they are still filling an important and much needed service in the community. Click on the links to learn more and see how you can support them in their mission.[Updated in May 2018 to reflect current status]
(Please let us know if we left something off this list. Email Karen Mackey at email@example.com for any additions.)