The Civilized Disaster

tarps after Laura

Some of our parishioners get these old billboard covers that a lot of people use as tarps and covers, for boats, cars – houses after hurricanes. This MacDonald’s billboard above made it to the local news, which is a fun story – people were stopping by to place orders. And it’s helping save the house from any further rain damage.

An Omelet is Born

I brought my propane camp stove and some propane canisters so Fr. John can prepare actual meals from time to time and not live on cold cuts and cookies.

It’s debatable as to whether or not what’s in the photo is an actual meal. It’s a rotisserie chicken omelet, with softened red onions and … a few other things.

It was to die for.

Thankfully enough of the rotisserie chicken survived the bribing of Little Cujo to make it into an omelet and it was a great excuse to get outside in a good way, eat healthy items, and have some fun. And once you get a hang of the camp stove you can prepare great things on it.

Don’t ask me how I know that.

Sometimes going in to help after hurricanes…

…is all about not only the obvious cleanup but bringing moments of civilized living back into the mix as well – after you put the plants back into place, pick up the roof shingles, take the laundry off the line, find a table to use, lug tree branches, pick up pottery shards, trudge all over creation in the sweltering 97 degrees in the shade heat, unseal windows, and convince Fr. John to go into the house with his dog snarling at the entry – and I am a dog-loving person fwiw – to get utensils, butter, plates.

It was fun a moment. I hope he has power soon, but if not I’m bringing a different coffee pot next week.

Sometimes a man just has to have his coffee.


Surviving Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Cleanup

Hurricanes are killer storms, but living through the storm itself is, for most, not the hard part. It’s the aftermath that’s depressing and can usually have no end in sight.

I brought a load of much needed tarps, bags of much needed ice, and many other things over to my friend Fr. John Payne’s Parish. We’re sending more over in the next few days.

Cujo the Doglet
Sweet Little Cujo, in a rare non-snarling photo.

Fr. John evacuated with his hound, a vicious psychotic little thing many somehow love, to his parents house in Arizona. He then turned around and drove back to be with his parishioners. His dog is scarred, probably for life.

It may be because I’m 6’6”, it may be because Little Cujo is psycho, but when Fr. John wasn’t around the smiles disappeared, the crouching and snarling started and I had to bribe him with luncheon meats to move freely about the house without being mauled.

The Kitchen Table, cleared after the windows were unsealed and Cujo bribed with a pound of ham.
Church Trees

A lot of the leaves were blown off these trees, and there are downed limbs all over the place, with parts of the roof, side boards from the church walls, debris. Et cetera.

What does one say?

It’s depressing after awhile seeing the same piles of leaves down. The same telephone poles. The same branches.

Church damage

Relatively unscathed. A lot of work to be done but the heavy damage starts just a few miles West of here. I saw it but decided not to sight see. So much to be done. So many people hurting.

Fr. John celebrated Mass and even though I was the only one in attendance – I didn’t bring an alb and was dripping with sweat – he gave a great Homily.

The Cemetery

The Parish Cemetery is across this field. A lot of trees came down at the edges, some headstones are toppled though most are miraculously untouched.

Remnants of Storm Surge are not far from here and that post flood smell – immensely rank and a mainstay of post-Katrina living – was omnipresent along these roads and byways.

I had a great visit with Fr. John and everyone was grateful for the supplies and help. Our Parish will be sending more, and we’ll continue helping as we can.


And That’s That

Today was the last of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at St. Jane de Chantal Church in Abita Springs. Not that I expected either it or me to be emotional, but it was all the more straightforward and matter of fact than usual.

It’s been an odd few months. While I had hoped the issues present with it could be worked out, quite clearly a number of those in attendance want their own Chaplain, and want their own Chapel, their own Mass. If that were not true then the Mass wouldn’t be moving.

Some of the tensions we’ve experienced with it have to do with that aspect. One has to be very Gamaliel Acts V about such things. A bit dramatic but true nonetheless.

And my advice is still the same; have nothing to do with these men, let them be. If this is man’s design or man’s undertaking, it will be overthrown; if it is God’s, you will have no power to overthrow it. You would not willingly be found fighting against God. 

Acts 5:38-39

Covid has aged me enough without added dramas thrown into the mix. While the decisions around the move have been fraught with confusion, I’m thankful all of that is in the past and the Mass will move on peacefully. I’ll be devoting more time to spiritual reading, prayer, health, wellness, and exercise.

Then there’s the reorganization of the Parish Staff, several renovations we’re undertaking, a master plan to start working towards the future on a solid foundation, and the mounds of paperwork that can happen when one is an INFP. (I’m being certified as an MBTI practitioner because seriously, it’s not going to hurt anything and I love learning.)

As the Latin Mass moves on, the Parish is still large, vibrant, filled with souls in need of salvation. It will do well in the new chapel with their new Chaplain, Fr. Damian Zablocki.

And that’s that. It was good to have it here while we did.


Must We Really?

Katrina 15

I looked at the National Weather Service this eve so I could plan out some gardening ventures, and realized it’s about to be the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. 💀

I haven’t written a lot about that. Except for a few posts here, and a few thousand emails to everyone getting in touch after the storm when I was one of the only priests in the area with email. Getting the Navy in touch with the Archdiocese was interesting – I went through contacts in Bolivia.

But I was too busy helping and rescuing to be typing away here. Katrina’s a rabbit hole everyone here goes down from time to time.

I’m going to look up some of the pics I took and recite a few memories and get them out of the way. It was horrible – but it was also an amazing time. Where awfulness abounds, grace abounds all the more.

If I had to do it over again, would I do anything differently? 🤨

Heck yeah! But when you don’t have to evacuate and your one of the few priests in a hundreds of square miles radius during a once in a lifetime emergency and you’re an INFP, you just do what you have to do while everyone who’s left town calls you lazy or asks you to empty their refrigerator, or check their house, or say a Mass, or get in touch with the Archdiocese, or see if their relative is still living, or meet them on a naval ship in the river, or meet the President, or give them permission to clean the debris outside of the Cathedral and a lot of other Churches because no one else in the Archdiocese is around, or give them tours around the city because they’re reporters and don’t know where they are, or pray for the soldiers in their command as they’re deeply traumatized, or go and identify bodies of those who have died. 🙄 Someone told me once that they had lost everything in the storm and I didn’t know what it was like – I had to remind them that my dad died in it.

It was a horrible time for everyone, and it’s over with and done. No need to relive any of that mess.

Scientifically, it’s fascinating. Emotionally, it’s time to admit it’s in the past.