‘We are with you’: Catholic Extension makes donation for Harvey damage

Published 11:44 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Rev. Jack Wall’s first check to the Diocese of Beaumont, deposited into the hands of Bishop Curtis Guillory on Tuesday, was a doozy: $100,000.

There’s more coming.

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Wall, who leads Chicago-based Catholic Extension, a national organization that tends to the needs of the poorest of among almost 200 U.S. Catholic dioceses, was in Port Arthur to extend aid in the wake of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey disaster damage. A half-dozen representatives made the trip from Chicago.

Wall visited St. Joseph Catholic Church at 4600 Procter St., where all of the buildings sustained damage and only the parish hall has been restored to use. That’s where Mass is celebrated. Catholic Extension funds will go to repairing the education building.

A diocesan spokeswoman said Catholic Extension funds would be distributed here in the following way:

• Holy Family Retreat Center, $276,000

• St. Joseph, $200,000

• St. Mary, Fannett, $137,00

• Sisters in the Western Vicariate, $55,000.

Wall said although Catholic Extension is not primarily dedicated to disaster relief, it helps where it can. Founded in 1905, it has a history of helping the Beaumont Diocese back to when it was initiated in 1966. The diocese includes Catholics in nine counties.

Wall addressed a gathering of St. Joseph’s parishioners following a thanksgiving service, telling them that Catholic Extension is “all of us” who are trying to act in concert for the church and its people.

“It’s a powerful thing to walk in as strangers and see we are all in this together,” he said.

Wall said the parish members were doing the “heavy lifting” of repairing the church in Port Arthur, but added, “We just want to say you’re not alone. We are with you.”

Following the service, Guillory said Catholic Extension had helped the diocese with its prison ministry, its Hispanic ministry and the Retreat Center during the 17 years in which he has served as bishop here. In all, he said, Catholic Extension has donated more than $2 million to the diocese.

“We make sure we are good stewards,” he said.

The bishop said 23 churches and three Catholic schools in the diocese took on water during the Harvey flooding. Eventually, he said, through insurance, FEMA and private donations, the church hopes to rebuild.

Guillory has served on the Catholic Extension board for the past six years and said he has seen the organization help myriad churches in impoverished or depressed areas.

A second service was planned in Fannett on Tuesday afternoon.