St. Rose Offers Hancock County Long-Term Help, Hope

St. Rose Delima Catholic Church in Bay St. Louis has been the light at the end of the tunnel for hundreds of Hancock County residents ever since the storm struck. And the church plans to continue to assist the community in recovery efforts for the next four years.

"All these materials have come from the Catholic charities. This is only half of the shipment for the drywall week," Father Sebastian Myladiyil of St. Rose Delima said.

Volunteers from Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington D.C. spent the day tearing out sheet rock from a storm damaged Bay St. Louis home."

"We've seen the pictures. We read the news stories for seven months now and it's just the general [feeling of] wanting to do whatever we can in some small way to help out," Margaret Ershler of Holy Trinity said.

St. Rose Delima's school acted as a shelter when Katrina made landfall. Those same classrooms now house volunteers.

"We are capable of housing about 60 volunteers in the school you see here, and also provide them with three meals," Father Myladiyil said.

Ershler says it's been a wonderful experience.

"The hospitality of the people down here has been amazing. We have been so well fed and so well taken care of at St. Rose."

Using relief donations, St. Rose gave more than $23,000 worth of gift cards to school children in Hancock County. Also, more than $40,000 worth of household appliances were bought for storm victims.

"We gave out 60 refrigerators in three separate phases and then washers and dryers and dish washers and microwaves," Father Myladiyil said.

Long-term help from the Catholic Church is just an application away.

"That's where we have the blessing of the long term recovery office of the dioceses stepping in and inviting as many people as possible to go through the case management process. If they go through the case management process and if they get qualified, the diocese has set-up this office for four years. It's not just about giving a roof or providing materials for a drywall. It's about bringing people to that pre-Katrina status."

He says helping his community recover is his church's Christian duty.

For more information about the Catholic Dioceses' Office of Long Term Recovery and the services it offers dial 228-701-0555.

by Al Showers