It was an eye opening experience, one filled with hope for the future of Catholicism. Thanks Donna for putting this into words. dd
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to learn more about Lexington's Priests Janice and Donna.
Taking the movement to New Orleans
By Donna Rougeux
As we drove into the town that just experienced hurricane Isaac we swirled with excitement to see our friends, Bill and Debbie Quigley. Long time friends of Janice, kindred spirits of the movement and devoted social justice activists, Bill and Debbie, welcomed us into their home with enthusiasm.
Jennifer Milona and her two school aged sons came to the house to meet us and arranged for us to spend the next day visiting three different places that minister to the needs of people dealing with poverty and homelessness in New Orleans. We visited The Rebuild Center, The Hope House and The Catholic Worker House.
The Rebuild Center at St. Joseph Church serves lunch daily and offers other services like, showers, laundry, legal and medical services and a food pantry. We enjoyed meeting some of the nuns and volunteers that keep the center operating. We felt like we were the Nuns on the Bus as we left to have lunch in a local restaurant and then on to the Hope House where we talked with sister Lillie and brother Don. They shared with us the history of the Hope House. As they told different stories of some of the people who have been helped over the years through their ministry, we were moved to tears and felt our hearts being inspired by this saintly lady and gentleman.
Then we went to the Catholic Worker House to have the traditional Monday meal of red beans and rice while we met some of the people living there along with the people who keep the house in operation. I was deeply affected by the story of a woman and her sister who are current residents of the Catholic Worker House. They previously lived with their mother who died four months before the hurricane Katrina disaster. The storm destroyed their house and everything they owned. These ladies who had beautiful smiles on their faces are currently looking each day for jobs. They have hope that they will get a job in October in a hotel because they have heard that business usually picks up just before the holiday season. One of these ladies is an artist and talked about losing all of her paintings and art supplies. She looks forward to rebuilding her stock of supplies and being able to paint again. She enthusiastically accepted my invitation to call me when she was painting again. I will continue to pray for her and her sister that they will get jobs. I told her that I look forward to getting that call from her and that I want to buy one of her masterpieces someday.
On Tuesday evening Janice led the liturgy as deacon Diane and I assisted. It was thrilling to be received by 46 people who eagerly wanted to participate in the first liturgy in New Orleans that was led by a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. It was heartwarming to hear the voices of the people participating in the liturgy as they dialoged with ideas from the homily and as they participated by individually reading parts of the Eucharistic prayer. Two school aged boys each took their turn and were visibly pleased to read part of the pray. They were very happy to meet Janice because they had previously seen her in Pink Smoke Over the Vatican.
It is humbling, life giving, and exciting to take our movement to new places. Our experience seems similar to the disciples who were sent out to spread the good news when the early church was being born. This is yet another road trip with Janice that has given me the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits in another place and be part of growing the movement. It fills my heart to overflowing to have the privilege to see Sophia breathe new life into a sick and dying church with this movement as it offers hope, encouragement and empowerment to the people it touches. The people we met in New Orleans seemed to be inspired by our visit. I am inspired by them because they give me such hope for a church that is living, awake and functioning as the kindom on earth.