Dear Friends in Christ:
This week marked the two year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed. For most Houstonians, this is but a memory of a terrible event that affected our city. For others it was a horrible time when they saw their homes flooded, the possessions of a lifetime lost, followed by a test of patience (and sanity) and the trial of rebuilding. There are many, however, including many in this parish, for whom the nightmare has yet to end. After two years they have not yet been able to return to their homes, they are still fighting with insurance, contractors, the city permitting office and others. A drive through many of our neighborhoods shows that there are still empty homes and darkened streets. We cannot forget our neighbors and those still struggling to recover.
As a child I remember my mother being terrified of the weather. I never appreciated her fears until I saw firsthand after Harvey how nervous people in this area now react to a heavy downpour. I sense the worry on their faces and in their voices as they fear that the rains may turn into another act of devastation. Not all of the scars of Harvey were left on homes and streets.
Since the hurricane, there has been a lot of blaming and accusing. In time, I hope that the many disputes will find their proper and just resolution. As a people of faith we should all look at the hurricane and floods of two years ago and reflect. In the midst of this terrible time for so many, God did not abandon us. His love and grace were present not only during the time of the rain and rising waters but afterwards as well. The blessings to us far exceeded the water. God’s grace was made manifest in the care and concern, cooperation and generosity, of so many. While that was so clear in the days and weeks immediately following the flood, it still remains so today. Here in our parish, we still have people coming to our Social Services Ministry seeking help and yes, we are still assisting people. We continue to help people rebuild their homes and their lives. This too is God’s grace at work.
To those of you who lost so much, please know you remain in our thoughts and prayers. To those who are still in the painful process of rebuilding, continue to trust in God and know his grace. Lastly, a word of gratitude to God for his divine protection and to all those who so selflessly cared for their neighbors in a time of need. I have said this before and I would like to offer it again, in so many ways, this was our parish’s finest hour. In the midst of tragedy and shock, so many of our parishioners and our staff reached out to care for others in love and concern. You were the embodiment of our Catholic Faith! You were a beautiful example of Living Faith, Changing Lives and Making a Difference! I am particularly proud of our staff. Many of them had lost their own homes to the flood and yet they were here helping others. I will never forget our parishioners who simply showed up and said “What can I do to help?” Nor will I forget the parishioners who without any fanfare took their neighbors who had lost everything into their own homes, not just for a day or two but for months and even more than a year. Too, I recall with gratitude the many parishioners who without being asked and without any recognition simply sent a check to the office with a note that said “For the flood victims”. Nor will I forget the people who spent countless hours in prayer for our parishioners, our neighbors, and our city.
Though for many the storm and the flood are but memories and, for others, recovery continues to be slow but ongoing, the graces and mercies of God remain for all of us. God’s grace is everywhere and in every situation. As people of faith, our job is to always be aware of God’s grace, to trust in the Lord and to strive to be instruments of that grace for others.
In pace Christi,