Well-known Catholic priest and activist Fr. George Clements held a press conference at Haymarket Square Sept. 12 to announce the formation of “One Church, One Family” in the aftermath of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
Fr. Clements is the founder and organizer of “One Church, One Child” which has been responsible for the adoption of thousands of children over the past 25 years. Because of One Church, One Child many homeless children have found homes.
About his latest initiative, Clements said, “Last week I was in Houston and I wanted to see for myself and talk to the people who were evacuated. I was in the Astrodome and Lion Center and Convention Center. While I was there, the constant refrain I heard over and over again was, ‘What’s going to happen to us now? What are we going to do when the national spotlight is off? What are we going to do when all the cameras are gone?’ The people kept saying that over and over again.
“Let’s face it?”it won’t be too long before you hear the word Katrina and people will yawn. Attention deficit disorder. That’s exactly where America is too often on a disaster of this scope. They zero in on the latest event.
“Down through the century, one institution has stayed around for the long run, one institution known as the church. The reason they stay around is that they are mandated to be in the healing business. They remain behind the scenes?”I’m talking about faith-based [organizations]?”synagogues, mosques, temples, whatever. When I was continuously confronted with that question last week, ‘What happens to us now’? I said to those people, ‘Don’t worry, the church is going to be here for you, the church is not going to let you down. The church will be there. They will not toss a $2,000 debit card and ride off into the sunset. The church is going to be there.’
“I ask you to come here today to talk about an organization I have called One Church, One Family. I am fully aware that churches are overloaded with social service projects. After all, I’ve been priest for 48 years. I know what happens with these churches. However, I am still prepared to asked each church to find it in their budget somehow to squeeze something out for one family?”just asking that one church take on one family, become personally, intimately involved with that one homeless family. I’m not saying that our churches are going to be able to solve the Gulf Coast crises, but one church can certainly solve the problem of one family. You can take every tome that was ever written about federal, state and local government. You are not going to find the word love. The government is telling these people what they think they can do?”go to Utah. The church is to ask them what is it that we can do and that is an incredibly different situation altogether.
“One Church, One Family couldn’t care less about religious denomination. This has nothing to do with religious denomination. We are about spirituality?”focusing in on folks who have already been to hell. Any church that is willing to reach out is asked to call this toll-free number: 888/282-8484. Any family also that has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina, that family is asked also to call that same number.
We want to reassure them that they are not going to wear out their welcome with the church. We are telling our churches to stick with them. We have already signed up hundreds and hundreds of families. I know that our faith-based institutions are going to step forward. I know when all of this is done, one question is going to be asked of us: ‘What did you do for those folks who didn’t have what you have?’
Interested parties can call 888/282-8484.