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Venetian Isles church re-opens after Katrina

St. Nicholas of Myra St. Nicholas of Myra

VENETIAN ISLES, LA (WVUE) - A church is Venetian Isles is finally back open after being nearly destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The strength of generosity of St. Nicholas of Myra's parishioners, helped bring it back to life.

For the first time in eight and a half years, music filled St. Nicholas of Myra church.

Saturday's re-dedication mass celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, holds so much meaning. It's the first time many of the parishioners stepped foot into the building that sustained so much damage during Katrina.

The idyllic setting in which the church sits was a mess after Katrina. The storm surge and winds took out everything but the beams and roof of the building. The church's pastor, "Fr. Red" as he was affectional known, stayed inside the building as the storm passed through, refusing to leave. He didn't survive. This new building, is dedicated to him.

Kirk Picou says, "He just wanted to stay right here, this is where he lived, this is what he wanted."

Charlie Alonso adds, "Fr. Red was the best. He was down to earth."

"The loss of Fr. Red is something we'll never get over," said Janet Alonso.

For year's these parishioners were scattered all over the area, without a church they could call their own. Finally, a group got together vowing to rebuild. Archbishop Aymond says, "It's truly inspiring to me that they wanted this so badly, they wanted this to be a sign of their continued faith."

The church came together thanks to donations from parishioners and the generosity of various contractors who offered up their time and services to the cause.

Kathy & Donald Labruyere say, "The interior never looked this good. This really looks nice, they did a tremendous job, tremendous job."

This congregation has a new place to worship in and more importantly a permanent place to honor Fr. Red. "It would be wonderful if Fr. Red could be here in person but we know he's here in spirit and that's what counts," said Wendy Borne.

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