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New Orleans
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Katrina Study Guide

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A picture is worth a thousand words – or so they say – but even pictures cannot capture the full impact of the devastation caused when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans August 29, 2005. That was the feeling among many of the Dominican communicators who visited New Orleans during the January, 2007 OPCOMNET Conference Seeing the devastation first hand, realizing how much worse it must have been a year and a half prior, and hearing personal accounts of life before, during and after Katrina brought to light the fact that the story isn’t over even though it may have disappeared from the news.

Something terrible happened to the people of New Orleans, among them members of the Dominican family. Hope and Faith in New Orleans attempts to shed some light on the untold story of New Orleans, how Hurricane Katrina effected the Dominicans in the city, their battle to rebuild and how they are coping two years later.

During January’s conference the communicators compiled a series of stories documenting the Dominicans from New Orleans as they attempt to rebuild their lives post-Katrina. The stories are moving, but each contains a message of hope and resilience.

The entire text of this special series is available here on You can also download stories in Word format by using the link on the right sidebar of each story. A PDF version of all the stories with a collection of photos is also available for download on the Table of Contents page.

Different Lives Living in the Same World

Prior to the storm, the St. Dominic Chapter of the Dominican Laity had about 40 members who formally met at St. Dominic’s Church once a month. Katrina effected each member of the group differently. Some lost their homes and everything they owned, while others’ homes were virtually untouched by the wrath of the flood waters. About 25 members returned to New Orleans to rebuild, they have helped one another in the long recovery effort – physically, emotionally and spiritually. To find out how this close-knit group has grown even closer in the wake of the post-Katrina devastation. READ MORE

A Beacon of Hope Lights the Road
to Recovery in New Orleans

The Beacon of Hope Resource Center strives to raise the quality of life for the families who were touched by the devastation by providing information and resources to help them rebuild. Founded by Lakewood South homeowners Doug and Denise Thornton, flood survivors themselves, the group was chartered to “assist all New Orleans homeowners in rebuilding and restoring their homes and communities.” Lay Dominican Linda Pippinger is part of the effort. READ MORE

St. Mary’s Dominican High School:
A Wave of Success

The story of St. Mary’s Dominican High School is a story of perseverance and triumph in the face of adversity. After Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, approximately 18 inches of water filled the school, minimal in a city that had significant portions under 10 feet or more. But it was early October before administrators were let back into the school and by that time mold had destroyed most of the schools’ contents. Through “prayer, people, program, policy, property and preaching,” less than five months after more than 80 percent of the city was left underwater by the storm, the school reopened. READ MORE

Telling the Story

Over 25 years of classroom notes and professional resources were lost when the basement offices of the Spirituality Center at the Notre Dame Seminiary flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Sr. Noel Toomey, OP (EMD) and other staff members are now rebuilding and regrouping on their new second floor office in a building next door. The experience of Katrina didn’t change Sr. Noel’s ministry as much as it added a new dimension as people seek someone to talk to not just about spiritual direction, but about their own experiences during the Katrina ordeal. READ MORE

C’est Si Bon: Dominican Friars Fully Engaged
in Post-Katrina Recovery

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the presence of the Dominican friars in Louisiana continues as it has since 1911. Nineteen friars, who live in two priories and lead two parishes, are currently living and ministering in the city. While some of the structures in the priories and parishes suffered damage from the storm, their spirit and ministry remained constant. The friars of the Southern Province see post-Katrina rebuilding as an opportunity to preach the Word of faith in God, even in the midst of a massive and slow recovery from one of the country’s worst natural disasters. READ MORE

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

Over half of the Eucharistic Missionaries of St. Dominic associates were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Some were never able to return to their original address. After being gone for several weeks, or longer, some were able to return to the city and repair their homes -- others weren’t that lucky. The displacement of the associates and the sisters doesn’t allow them to connect in the same ways they once did, and they now rely on the Internet and the mail to help keep everyone informed. READ MORE

Being Eucharist in a Hungry City

Srs. Diana Hooley, OP (EMD) and Alberta Schindler, OP work for Serenity Hospice Center, a small private hospice service through which they are companions for people in the throes of terminal illness. The duo sees about 70 patients. Not only are these people suffering from terminal illnesses or dealing with the death of a loved one from a terminal illnesses, they are also dealing with the loss, in some cases, of everything they own. Dealing with death is hard enough... READ MORE

The Dominican Family Responds

Dominicans were among those touched by the images shown on television and in newspapers. They sent e-mail messages and volunteered time and talents to assist not only the Dominican Family but the city as a whole.To find out how our Dominican congregations offered assistance to our Dominican family and the city of New Orleans. READ MORE

Dominican Sisters of Adrian Lend Their Help

The Dominican Sisters of Adrian have been a visible and lively presence in the New Orleans area. They have assisted with various ministries throughout the city and offered their assistance to the Eucharist Missionaries, the St. Mary’s Dominicans, the friars of the Southern Province and the city as a whole. Not only have the sisters been providing a service to New Orleans, they have found their time there to be a blessing to them as well. READ MORE

Water Memories

The flood water of Hurricane Katrina caused the separation of family members, displaced neighbors, parishioners, schoolmates, coworkers and friends, and left people without the means to survive. Sr. Patricia Rogers, OP (Sinsinawa) was the principal at St. Mary Academy in New Orleans. She left New Orleans with five others sisters. The school was never rebuilt. Experience a first hand account of how Sr. Patricia is still coping with the devastation and loss experienced during Hurricane Katrina. READ MORE


View a new documentary film on the survivors of Hurricane Katrina
by Armando Ibanez, OP

use this link for a
4-minute trailer.

word version





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