Fr. Peter J. Daly
October 22, 2004
First hurricane Charley hit the
West Coast. Then hurricane
My parishioners, like people all around the country, wanted to help those struggling with the aftermath.
The weekend after Hurricane Charley
smacked dead on into
So, the next Sunday, we devoted out poor box collection to the people of Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda. People gave $899, which we rounded up to $1,000 and sent it off in the mail.
A few days
later I got a phone call from
“We just started getting mail delivery again,” he said. “We were delighted to open the envelope and to get the promise of your prayers and your check.”
There are times when you are proud to be Catholic. At times like these we are at our best when we live up to our name “Catholic”, which means “universal.”
said that it has been reassuring and overwhelming to the people of his parish
that Catholic churches from all over the
He sent me
a bulletin, which had letters from parishes all over the
Two little girls in
Fr. Kaywell and his parishioners really need the help. Nearly every house in the parish was damaged. All the businesses in the town are closed, at least temporarily. Both area high schools have been condemned as unsafe. Many elderly people in the parish lived in mobile homes, which have been totally destroyed.
The parish plant really took a direct hit. The church was completely destroyed. The roof fell in from the wind and everything was drenched with rain.
Yet the Lord did not abandon His people. Miracle of miracles, the tabernacle survived unscathed and the vigil light never went out, despite 140 mile per hour winds.
Parish worship has continued uninterrupted. Tabernacle and vigil light were carried over to the parish hall, where mass is now being held. Fr. Kaywell reports that the crowds at mass are smaller but the quality of worship is wonderful. The prayer is heartfelt. Strangers and newcomers have become neighbors and friends.
Moreover, the parish has continued to reach out to the community. Their parking lot served as a staging area for the Red Cross. Their parish hall has served 3,000 meals per day to area residents who are still without utilities and many without homes. They even have port-a-potties in their parking lot to offer needed relief to people without plumbing.
I have always contended that people are better in hurricanes. No one wants loss of life or personal injuries, of course. But the loss of material things and damage to buildings give us a new appreciation for what it truly important. People are important, not things.
of Punta Gorda, like the people in many other damaged towns from
Catholics have also discovered what it means to belong a “Catholic” community of faith. It means that we are not alone on this world.
Those are things worth discovering, once the storms of life pass by.