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Nebraskans respond to needs of Gulf Coast


By Lisa Schulte
The Catholic Voice


Father Michael Gutgsell (far right), rector of St. Cecilia Cathedral, is joined by other church leaders at an Interfaith Prayer Service for victims of Hurricane Katrina Sept. 4 at the cathedral. Also pictured are (from left) Rabbi Craig Marantz of Temple Israel, Rev. Thomas Hurley of Trinity Cathedral, Dr. Saidi Liwaru of Islamic Maurid of Omaha and Dr. Marie Rubis Bauer, a musician of the Saint Cecilia Schola Cantorum.
Photo by Lisa Schulte
Maren Lebens and Matt Rosenlof, students at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, help carry items to be delivered to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The supplies, which included baby care items and dry foods, were collected from St. Margaret Mary Parish and School, Marian High School and St. John Vianney Parish.

Where to donate

CATHOLIC CHARITIES USA
2005 Hurricane Relief Fund
PO Box 25168
Alexandria, VA 22313-9788
1-800-919-9338

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS
Charities USA, Inc.
Gift Processing Center
PO Box 9028
Pittsfield, MA 01202-9028
Attn: Hurricane KATRINA Relief

ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY
2101 Leavenworth St.
Omaha, NE, 68102
Indicate that funds are for Hurricane Relief.

Agnes Payne couldn't believe her eyes.

As she watched the television coverage of Hurricane Katrina, she saw her cousin being interviewed by a reporter.

'I couldn't believe it," Payne said. 'He said he was trying to find his mother and his sister, but saw his father being washed away."

The 80-year-old Payne, whose parents were from the New Orleans area, said the cousin contacted her sister in Tulsa, Okla but that she has no way of contacting him.

'All I can do is pray and that's what I've been doing." That's what many people are doing here in the Archdiocese of Omaha "“ praying.

Nearly 300 people attended an Interfaith Prayer Service on Sept. 4 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. It was led by Father Michael Gutgsell, rector of the cathedral, and religious leaders of the Jewish, Lutheran and Muslim faiths.

Collecting donations

In addition to prayer services, many parishes donated money and items for hurricane victims. As of publication, the archdiocese had collected more than $130.000 for hurricane relief through special collections at Sunday Masses.

Parishioners at Payne's parish, St. Benedict the Moor in Omaha, donated cases of bottled water that were sent to New Orleans, where several parishioners, besides Payne, have family ties.

The Knights of Columbus Council #10305 at St. John the Baptist Church in Fort Calhoun held a pancake feed Sept. 11, which raised $2,500 for hurricane relief. The council donated an additional $1,000 and the Supreme Council matched the total.

Luke Ramos, a student at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha, was the catalyst for a relief effort that filled trucks with items that were sent to hurricane victims.

    Werner Enterprises provided three semi-trailers, drivers and gas to ship the items to Jackson, Miss., where Catholic Charities will distribute the supplies to needy families.

    Other trailers were parked at Marian High School and at St. John Vianney Church in Omaha. Volunteers at the collection sites loaded them.

    The relief effort was named "One in Spirit."

 Students at Scotus Catholic High School in Columbus raised $1,294.32 in cash and pledges for hurricane relief.

Schools are helping out, too.

Students at Scotus Catholic High School in Columbus raised $1,294.32 in cash and pledges for hurricane relief. The money will be forwarded to Catholic Relief Services.

Norfolk Catholic Junior/Senior High students are collecting money through the school's 'Bring Your Change to Make a Change" disaster relief fund. Students are asked to bring their change to school and all monies donated will be matched by Heritage Financial Services in Norfolk. Donations will be sent to Catholic Charities USA for Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief.

Creighton University in Omaha welcomed 68 displaced students from several Louisiana universities, including Loyola University, Tulane University, University of New Orleans and Xavier University, all in New Orleans (See accompanying story on page.) Fifteen of the students are from Omaha.

More assistance

Organizations throughout the Archdiocese of Omaha are making an effort to assist in the disaster relief.

On Sept. 8, Girls and Boys Town welcomed 65 children and staff who evacuated from Girls and Boys Town of Louisiana (See accompanying story). They will be living with host families and attending the school until arrangements are made for a safe return to Louisiana.

The Knights of Columbus Supreme Council is conducting its largest disaster relief effort in its history. The Order has pledged a minimum of $2.5 million in financial assistance and will match any funds beyond that donated to Knights of Columbus Katrina Relief Fund until Oct. 30.

Of that money, $250,000 will be immediately distributed to Catholic Charities in affected areas, and $1.25 million will be used in the immediate future to assist those displaced and made indefinitely homeless. An additional $1 million will be set aside and used to rebuild the estimated 130 Catholic schools destroyed or seriously damaged by the storm and its aftermath.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society District Council Office in Omaha is also collecting disaster funds to send to the Society's offices in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana for direct aid to the hurricane victims.

Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Omaha is working hard to provide assistance to displaced persons, said Executive Director Scot Adams. The agency is currently working to provide food and mental health counseling and housing stock. Catholic Charities also sent truck loads of supplies to the New Orleans area and recently placed an evacuated family in housing at St. James Manor in Omaha.

'Our job is to seek out housing units and make it available nationwide," Adams said. 'We will also be providing longer term sort of case management and resettling kinds of services to the people we house."

Catholic Charities "“ asked to represent the archdiocese to interfaith communities and to coordinate the relief response from parishes and schools "“ has assembled a list of about 150 people who have volunteered resources.

'We hope to be using those volunteers when people come to Omaha," Adams said. 'We also may be working through parishes to be able to adopt a family."

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