Baton Rouge: Church helps refugees keep in touch

 The Catholic Church in the Gulf States of America is helping people displaced by Hurricane Katrina keep in touch with each other. Archbishop Alfred Hughes who is presently a guest in Baton Rouge diocese, Louisiana, wrote in a letter to flock, who are scattered all over the USA: "As the archbishop of New Orleans, and a fellow evacuee, I share in your sufferings, hold you in prayer and want to serve you in your needs." He thanked the hosting dioceses and in particular "Bishop Muench and the Diocese of Baton Rouge for the extraordinary way in which they have received more than 200,000 New Orleanians and facilitated the development of a central administration in exile for the archdiocese". "Hurricane Katrina has caused enormous suffering in the overwhelming loss of life, loss of homes, churches, schools and way of life Our first concern has been for people: their rescue, their basic physical needs, medical care and communications with loved ones," the Archbishop said praising the work of Catholic aid agencies and also efforts to "resume activity in as many parishes and schools as possible" recalling that other structures will need major repairs. The Archbishop said one main difficulty is how to connect with the people of the diocese now spread all over the country and he said the diocesan web site is a valid source of communication and information. To visit the site see: He added that he hoped soon to return to the diocese and celebrate Mass again in Saint Louis Catholic Cathedral which will mark the "resurrection of New Orleans." But in the meantime, he said: "Although it is necessary for the immediate future to continue to guide the church from Baton Rouge, we are seeking every possible way to be pastorally present in those communities that have resumed some normal activity as well as those communities that are displaced". "Being exiled from our homes and workplaces is not easy. Even as we express appreciation for the provision of a home away from home, I share with you the challenges of exile. Like the Jews of old, we long for a return to our holy city. I pray for you and I! ask you to pray for me."

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