Posadas pickup pilgrimage gives gift of charity to Louisiana parishes affected by hurricanes

By Daisey Martinez
PEARL – Sister Marirose Rudek, R.S.M., Director of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization in the Diocese of Lake Charles, shared during a regional meeting of the diocesan faith formation directors back in November. She spoke about the great loss people in her diocese have faced and how they are all just trying to navigate these troubled times, together.
“After the hurricane Laura, people had the attitude of, ‘It’s okay we can do this. We can handle it’, but after Hurricane Delta, people were just sobbing, sobbing, sobbing. … On top of everything else, people are losing loved ones due to natural deaths, heart attacks, suicide. There’s this sense of being overwhelmed and fatigued.” These are some of the words that Sister Marirose used to describe the difficult situation over in Lake Charles.
Daniel McCormick, Director of the Office of Religious Education from the Diocese of Birmingham, was touched by what Sister Marirose had shared with the group and knew he wanted to find a way to help out. After speaking with Sister Marirose, McCormick came up with the idea of a supply drive for faith formation for the parishes who lost their religious education buildings and more due to the wind and rain damage of the hurricanes.

PEARL – Mike Speyrer of Birmingham picks up a donation to load on the truck for a special “Posadas Pickup Pilgrimage” project that stopped at St. Jude parish on Dec. 17. Daniel McCormick of the Diocese of Birmingham developed the project to deliver much needed supplies to parishes in the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana that were hard hit by Hurricanes Laura and Delta earlier in the year. Stops were made in Meridian, Pearl and Natchez within the diocese. Kelly McGregor of St. Jude Pearl is pictured in the background. (Photo by Daisey Martinez)

This was the genesis of the “Posadas Pickup Pilgrimage” project. The objective was to gather parish leaders and catechists for charitable Advent celebrations at parishes across the dioceses of Birmingham, Jackson, and Alexandria and encourage the celebration of the Posadas in parish communities and families this Advent.
McCormick planned the trip to include nine stops to symbolize the nine nights leading up to Christmas in the Posadas tradition. Three of those stops were in the Diocese of Jackson: St Patrick Meridian; St Jude Pearl, and Mary Basilica Natchez on Dec. 16 and 17. Items were collected from their parishioners and from St. Francis Madison, St. Paul Flowood and Holy Family Jackson, whom actively participated by collecting and dropping off donations at the Pearl pickup location. St. Anthony in Madison and Cathedral in Natchez were some of the local Catholic schools that were also involved in collecting supplies for the pilgrimage. The parishes in these cities provided a welcoming environment for those who dropped off donations on the dates of the pickup.
In a time when everyone must be socially distant, this served as a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and show love and kindness to our neighboring brothers and sisters.

Sister Marirose messaged everyone involved by sharing her gratitude “Thank you to everyone, … no matter what you’re able to give. Just your prayers are much appreciated because the people in our diocese are overwhelmed and things have been stressful … so we’re grateful.”