Deacon Bob Bridwell, from St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sanford, is assisting flood victims in Louisiana as a volunteer. Here he shares his experiences.
BATON ROUGE - This is probably my last post. Tomorrow I take an early morning flight back to Raleigh. I’m ready to go home, but it’s hard not to feel a little guilt when the people of southern Louisiana need so much help. I’ve met a lot of people and tried to be of some service, but … I heard a statistic yesterday that 10 percent of the people of this state have been impacted by these floods. Because this disaster emanated from a tremendous amount of rain and not a named storm -- and because it occurred when most Americans (and the media) were more attuned to other things -- the disaster here doesn’t seem to be top-of-mind to most folks across the country. We need to be reminded that the people devastated by flood waters in Louisiana are our neighbors. They will need help for a long time and in many ways.
Recently, I heard someone say that Catholics are known by their belief in Scripture, the holy sacraments and charity. With the demands of life and the distractions we face, sometimes charity doesn’t always become a priority. I know I can be guilty of that inadequacy. The Gospels relate the commandment to love one another and to care for each other. James reminds us that our faith demands more than words. It also demands action. In the last two weeks since the flood waters have receded, I’ve seen first responders, workers, volunteers and ordinary people demonstrating their love for their neighbor. It fulfills and sustains the Catholic ideal of charity. And whenever I begin to be cynical about human behavior, I need to remind myself of the tremendous acts of charity I have seen here in Louisiana.
Many thanks to Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Raleigh and Catholic Charities USA for allowing me to be a part of this mission. God bless.
Deacon Bob Bridwell
St. Stephen Catholic Church, Sanford