Watch the dramatic video of teens raising enormous crucifix.
Hurricane Laura left more than a third of Louisiana a disaster zone in late August, and the Category 4 storm was merciless to many of the Catholic churches in the Diocese of Lake Charles.
Bishop Glen John Provost said that all of the diocese’s 39 churches and seven missions suffered damage.
Financial support and messages of solidarity from outside the diocese have been generous, but there’s also been a lot of pulling together on the part of Catholics in the area.
On Saturday, a group of students from St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette carried a heavy crucifix out of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Cameron, Louisiana. The parish is less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico and suffered severely from the storm surge.
The group of students and their fathers “spent their Saturday helping communities in Vermilion and Cameron Parishes as they continue to recover,” reported KATC News.
“We were asked if we could help preserve an Italian-made crucifix among other things. I think this image will forever be burnt in my memory,” said Lance Strother, director of campus ministry at St. Thomas More.
Judging from video posted on Strother’s Facebook page, it wasn’t easy. In an interview with Aleteia, Strother estimated that the object weighed 300-400 pounds.
He said that the diocese will have to assess the damage at each church and decide which can be restored. In the meantime, the diocese asked for help in setting aside the crucifix in a safe place.
As in many of the churches, the continuing presence of moisture presented a danger for such objects. “Basically, the marsh on the coastland of Louisiana lifted up with the storm surge, and moved inland,” Strother explained, “which means that it went directly into those churches and dropped itself. So there’s a lot of the marsh mud and everything that comes from the marshes–animals and so forth.”
Bishop Provost, writing on the diocesan website, said that the Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea in front of the Cameron church, which was built to commemorate a previous storm, is still standing.
“This beautiful remembrance of previous devastation during Hurricane Audrey will add Hurricane Laura to its list of catastrophes,” Bishop Provost wrote. “Although in the bull’s eye of the storm, the statue still stands, seemingly untouched. It is miraculous! Our Lady is reminding us of her faithful presence and God’s abiding care for us.”