Prayer service helps those still recovering from Katrina

Prayer service helps those still recovering from Katrina

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The anniversary of Katrina may be over, but the emotional damage never completely heal for many.

Sunday, a prayer service at St. Michael Catholic Church served many who still need help overcoming the devastating effects.

Steve Kuljis has been through a lot. He's used to praying for strength.

For him, there was Katrina. But before that was the Holocaust.

"You have to be strong," he said. "If you have faith, you're strong. What really keeps you going is faith. Like when I was Mauthausen and Auschwitz, it's the same way. It's faith keeps you going."

He was among those to seek spiritual healing at St. Michael Catholic Church. He compared Katrina to war.

"Same thing. Everything's destroyed," Kuljis said. "You don't have nothing. When you have nothing, you get nothing from nothing. This way, from people, you get something. And from God and from people that pray together stay together."

Music, like that from Our Mother of Sorrows, was also a needed salve for the spirit.

Emma Schmidt says services like this can heal the old fashioned way.

"I think it helps people reunite and come closer together, and be stepping stones for one another."

Geraldine Dufrene survived the hurricane in New Orleans with her son, only to lose him just months later to illness.

"This here helps me," she said. "It gives me confidence. I come to church, I pray every day for everybody. Not just my son, but for everybody. Because my father always told us, prayers will help."

Father Greg Barras, pastor of St. Michael, said it was a time to help people move on with their lives.

"Katrina was devastating and very painful and hurtful but it's not a moment to stay in," he said. "It's a moment to learn from and to grow through. And that's what we believe about Christ, who is in our lives. Christ didn't stay on the cross. Christ moved into that mystery of the resurrection."

As the community heals, so has St. Michael.

The church suffered tremendous damage in the storm, but it has been renovated.

And the multi-million dollar New Life Center, which was supposed to open on the anniversary of Katrina, should be open by late September.

"I would say that we are recovering," Barras said. "We're a mirror of society. So we gather together, just like everybody else - hurting, wondering, questioning, asking but with a movement and a drive, of hope and living and loving and learning. So, we the church, we are recovering."

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