Interfaith memorial service marks Katrina anniversary

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Nearly four years after Katrina, more than a hundred people gathered on the Church of the Redeemer property Friday morning. They came to pray, to sing, and to remember.

The Steps Coalition sponsored the interfaith memorial service.

"I need you to survive.  I pray for you. You pray for me," sang a trio of African-American women.

They gathered on sacred ground.  These people from different faiths and cultures and backgrounds find unity in a storm experience.

"Today, we urge that the shackles that bind us to Katrina's crippling grasp be released," said Rabbi Dr. Myrna Matsa.

"Katrina hurt rich and poor alike. Healthy and unhealthy together. Republican and Democrat equally. Men, women, and children of all ages, races, religions, nationalities," she told those gathered.

A representative from the Buddhist temple also encouraged reflection.

"I'll invite all of you to close your eyes, listen to the bell," said Venerable Thich Thien Tri.

This melding of faiths and cultures, this coming together for a shared memorial experience, caused Rev. Harold Roberts to recall a similar unity right after Katrina.

"And it didn't matter what color you were, what faith you were, where you came from. You were in line to get ice, you were in line to get water," said Rev. Roberts.

Sakinah Qawyi from the Biloxi Islamic Center prayed, "Our Lord. Accept this service from us. For thou are the all hearing, the all knowing."

The children from nearby Holy Angels nursery participated in the service by helping dedicate a tree, the promise of new life and growth on a site that saw so much storm destruction.

"May you help them to live and learn and support one another.  And have joy in their lives once again," they prayed together.

"We learn from the past, but must guard against being stuck in the past.  Oh Holy One, give us strength to step into the future together," said Rabbi Matsa.

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