photos © Diocese of the Blue Vans
Beginning with my ministry as Curate at All Saints' Chicago and continuing today through my work in the Diocese of Chicago, I have been granted the opportunity to serve on over fourteen rebuild trips in New Orleans and across the Louisiana coastline.
The failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina devastated my beautiful hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Saturday before the storm hit, my mother and grandmother evacuated to Olive Branch, Mississippi. There they found incredible hospitality in the midst of an uncertain reality.
After a week of living there, Anton and I invited them to come to Chicago to live with us until the waters were pumped from the city streets. It became evident that my mother's house was underwater and that it would need to be gutted. She wast determined to rebuild.
I was serving on the Youth Outreach Team of Chicago's premier homeless outreach agency The Night Ministry. My coworkers gathered materials and we arrived in Metairie, Louisiana to gut the house. It took four days.
When I was called by The Rev. Bonnie Perry and the people of All Saints' Chicago to serve as curate, they were organizing partnerships, committing to a long-term response and relationships with the people of New Orleans. Bonnie asked if I would go on the first rebuild trip. I didn't know what kind of pastor I would be since I was dealing with my own trauma response. People were very generous to this outreach ministry. Bonnie suggested that I could produce a video on the volunteers going down on the first trip. Perhaps that would give me some distance from the reality of the storm's effects on my family. So I did.
The first video led to a trilogy called Katrina Resurrection.
All Saints' continues to help rebuild the city. Outreach trips also include coastal restoration projects through Bayou Grace.