A River and a Town – New Orleans, April 28 – May 1, 2009

At the bottom of the United States, New Orleans is perched uneasily on the coils of the Mississippi, in its final meandering into the Gulf of Mexico. The relationship between the river and the town dominated our week there. The Christian Brothers went to New Orleans because, they say, “That’s where Edmund Rice would be today.”

Edmund was used to ships and coastal storms, from his work in Waterford, but he probably never confronted something as powerful and violent as Hurricane Katrina, that burst on New Orleans in August 2003. We were staring at the damage Katrina had done, six years later. Over 2,500 people died as a direct result of the winds, rain, and flooding from canals that broke open.

The Brothers have joined those in New Orleans who are repairing things – houses for the poor, young lives broken by crime, a whole education system destroyed by a hurricane. Like Edmund, they are changing the way people relate to each other, restoring each other’s dignity. New Orleans is the place where Edmund’s followers can build a better future – and we started on that task, across our schools in North America, connecting and supporting all who work for a more just world.

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