The buildings may be gone but the foundations of faith are still strong. Hurricane Katrina destroyed countless buildings, homes and churches including St. Clare Catholic Church in Waveland. On Sunday morning, for the first time since the storm, parishioners celebrated Mass in a tent on the beach front site where their church once stood.
Father Martin Gillespie told the group "I know it's going to be a little uncomfortable, but the main thing, my brothers and sisters, is we are here together."
The broken hearted arrived seeking comfort. The weary came searching for strength. Most of all, the parishioners of St. Clare's Catholic church were looking for one another.
"I haven't seen a bunch of these faces in the last two weeks," said Santo Saucier. "It really feels great to see them and know that they're alive."
Fold out chairs for pews and large fans instead of air conditioning made no difference to worshipers. Whether a large building or a small tent, St. Clare was still God's house.
"How strong is St. Clare?" asked Father Gillespie. "How strong is the parish? Is it the building? Is it the school? It's us. It's all of us being together."
Lynne McCubbin, a church member, said "The buildings mean nothing. The people is what means everything. It doesn't matter is we have buildings or that tent we were in. It's going to come together. We're going to be faithful to God. He knows the reason why this happened. Nobody else does."
The first Mass on the grounds since the storm was a spiritual renewal.
"Wonderful," said Mike Horn. "It's a good feeling. Fills an empty hole."
The church was rebuilt after Camille and it will be again.
"It's hard to imagine it," said Allison McCraw. "but I think it'll be wonderful when it happens."
Nine year old Chase Zimmerman is an altar boy. His young faith already knows how to overcome life's struggles. "You pray for everybody, and you help a lot of people."
St. Clare Elementary School was also destroyed. Father Gillespie says the Biloxi Diocese has said it will rebuild the church and school but it is uncertain whether the new church will be on the beach front.
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