Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Katrina's Lasting Fingerprints

This evening our parish is holding a meeting of the Katrina Response Team, aka the Post-Katrina Parish Partnership Project. Our early meeting was before the holidays and provided an opportunity for a small core group to brainstorm our pending partnership with a parish in New Orleans. Tonight we will have the opportunity to move our plans further forward and include a broader base of parishioners in our planning conversations.

As I prepare for this evening's meeting, I am thinking a lot about the why behind our outreach efforts whether it's post-Katrina, or post-Tsunami, or post-local tragedy. We reach out because we want to help someone(s) in need, because we view that we have something they need.

In the spirit of the Church's post-Vatican II missionary vision, I believe it's important for us in these cases also to be open to what those we serve/assist teach and give to us.

That said, as I have been preparing for this meeting, I have been enriched by the observations shared by Sister Anne Joan Flanagan, fsp on her blog during her home visit to New Orleans and the surrounding areas. If you've not had a chance to view her blog yet, I encourage a visit there. Her insights and witness are very compelling.

My prayer, as we endeavor to engage more deeply in this parish partnership and other forms of outreach, is that we will be keenly aware not only of the temporal needs we might address but also that we will be reminded of and develop an appreciation for her the true tragedies that the "victims of Katrina" witnessed in the midst of the hurricane's wrath and the time that followed. If we forget that reality or miss those lessons, our "help" will be limited as will our partnership.

I see outreach as an opportunity to engage in and experience sacred accompaniment, holy solidarity, and mutual support. May we always remember that "we are ONE body IN Christ!"


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