St. Alphonsus in recovery

Posted August 4, 2017 at 12:00 am

By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator

St. Alphonsus Church in Greenwell Springs is “building strength” as it regroups from the flood of August 2016 that wreaked havoc for its church and school family and the surrounding Central and Greenwell Springs communities, according to Jo Ann Stein, executive director of St. Alphonsus.

She said some people are coming back slowly and some are still working on their homes. Even those who are close to recovery are still unpacking boxes.

She said the involvement in church and attendance at Mass is still good because people are recognizing the church plays an important role in the spiritual healing in their lives after such a devastating event.

“We are all coming through it together. We’ve been very supportive of each other,” said Stein.

She said the support helps offset the frustration some people feel as they deal with FEMA, insurance and contractor issues as they try to get their lives back together.

She said welcoming with open arms people who are suffering all kinds of stress and distress helps them to “come through it as a family.”


While there were lots of calls and cries for help, there a lot of people reaching out to them, even though they themselves may have lost everything, said Stein.

“The people of St. Alphonsus are very resilient and patient,” said Stein. “People saw another side of the parish. Unless you are in need you don’t see that. The church did an amazing job. No matter what, we were here every day.”

In large parishes, such as St. Alphonsus, people may not know each other very well. The flood changed all that, said Stein.

“In this day and age people don’t know their neighbor. Everyone stepped up. Everyone was impacted in one way or another. Those whose homes weren’t flooded helped those who were,” said Stein.

She said St. Alphonsus threw out a wide net to bring in as many helpless and suffering people as possible.

“Everyone knew they could come to St. Alphonsus, whether they are a parishioner, Catholic or not,” said Stein.

The parish will commemorate the first anniversary of the flood during its 4 p.m. vigil Mass on Saturday, Aug. 19. The Mass will be followed by a reception with a slideshow presentation featuring short stories, blessings, updates and pictures.