Special mass honors homeless in New Orleans who have died

Special mass honors homeless in New Orleans who have died

A dozen homeless people died on the streets of New Orleans this year. It's a number the Archdiocese of New Orleans says is far too high.

At St. Joseph Church on Tulane Avenue a special mass Sunday afternoon united clergy from around the city to pray for the lives lost and the ones that can still be saved.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond says, "Sometimes people because they're homeless, really lose hope and just give up."

That's how Susan Coogle felt last year when she was living in her car. "All the homeless need is some hope and encouragement that there's help for them," Coogle said.

In Coogle's case, someone called Unity of Greater New Orleans to tell them about a woman seen sleeping in her vehicle. Unity helped Coogle access medical services and got her back on her feet. "Today I have my own apartment, I have food in my refrigerator and I'm able to buy clothes," Coogle explained.

Martha Kegel, Executive Director of Unity of Greater New Orleans says, "The vast majority of homeless don't want to be homeless. They're homeless because of extreme poverty and difficult life circumstances."

Katie Henderson says the social security and disability checks she receives from the government won't cover a rent payment on an apartment. So she lives in a shelter. "I became homeless in 2012. This is the 6th shelter I have been in," Henderson said.

Henderson believes there are hundreds of people just like her; productive members of society who've fallen on hard times. It's those people that the archbishop says, need the city's help the most. "Sometimes I think people say why bother because what I do hardly puts a dent in this problem but the attitude of God, I think, is, whatever dent we can put into this affects the life of another person," Aymond explained.

With so many panhandlers on city street corners, Martha Kegel admits there is a bit of fatigue when it comes to giving. So she suggests donating to an organization or shelter, where your money is sure to be put to good use.

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