The Faithful Stand in Worship, Despite Battered Church in Pass Christian

More than 36 years ago, Camille demolished St. Paul's Catholic Church in Pass Christian.

All that was salvaged were broken pieces of glass and a statue of Jesus with a broken arm.

The church eventually rebuilt, but weeks ago, Katrina delivered St. Paul's another damaging blow, with her flood waters washing away parts of the building and much inside of it.

Despite gaping holes in St. Paul's church, hundreds of members there gathered to lift up their voices in praise.

Warren Griffon has been a parishoner here since 1946.

He and the church weathered Camille, a storm that wiped out the old St. Paul's sanctuary in 1969.

"We started having mass back in the gym, that was quite a deal, quite a change," Griffon said.

Now, generations later, parishoners, including two of Griffon's daughters, who are lifelong members of St. Paul's are facing a similar challenge.

"We were here the morning, following Katrina, and we walked in and saw, of course, the damage where the wall is blown out and the back wall is blown out, but when you enter through the entry way, there, hanging from the ceiling is the cross with the risen cross on it," said Warren's daughter, Therese Griffon.

Therese's sister, Catherine, says it's also been uplifting to see fellow parishoners who survived the storm.

"I've got to see a lot of people I still haven't seen since the storm, and it's kinda natural for us now, when you haven't seen people that you've seen for a while, to give them a hug, and it's even more so now," Catherine Griffon said.

And while the storm may have battered this church building, members here say they're still standing strong in their faith.

"The church isn't the building. I think the father said that this morning. The church is the people, and it's God and the people together that makes the church. It's not the building. But anything could happen to the building, as I said the church is the same because of the people," Warren Griffon said.

Father Dennis Carver called Sunday's service a homecoming for parishoners.

He says the Sunday morning attendance was more than 25-percent over a typical Sunday morning gathering.

Father Carver says people came from as far as Covington and Baton Rouge to attend the service.

Meanwhile, church leaders are trying to determine where permanent services will be held in the future.

"The plan now is simply to wait. There's been some engineering reports in the building, saying it's salvageable, however, the question now is the cost of saving the building. The question is, would it be cheaper to construct a new one or would it be more expensive to reconstruct this facility?" Father Carver asked.

Church members will attend mass at regular schedule at Our Lady of Lords on Menge Avenue in Pineville until a decision is made.