Jesus, of course, was a carpenter, and these inspiring women are clearly following his lead:
Dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Volunteer, Make it a Habit,” about 80 nuns from congregations nationwide worked side by side in New Orleans Oct. 5-9, swinging hammers and hanging wallboard in homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
They were part of “Nuns Build,” a volunteer religious effort coordinated by the nonprofit St. Bernard Project and Ursuline Sister Regina Marie Fronmuller and Dominican Sister Mary Keefe, both of whom have been ministering to New Orleanians since Hurricane Katrina.
“There’s a need here, and sisters are responsive – that’s what we do,” Sister Mary said of the effort. “We help people. Others have come, so why not the sisters? I knew that they would respond.”
“It didn’t take much,” Sister Regina Marie said. “They were so willing to help.”
For the five-day effort, Sisters Mary and Regina Marie corralled members of Dominican communities in Adrian, Mich.; Mission San Jose, Calif.; Blauvelt, N.Y.; Amityville, N.Y.; Tacoma, Wash.; San Rafael, Calif.; Springfield, Ill.; Racine, Wis.; and Houston.
They also called on Dominican Sisters of Hope; Dominican Sisters of Peace; Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart; Marianites of Holy Cross; Ursuline Sisters; Franciscan Sisters of Milwaukee; Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph; Sisters of Mount Carmel of New Orleans; and Sisters of the Holy Faith.
The nuns are among 17,000 volunteers who have helped rebuild 244 homes not only in the civil entity of St. Bernard Parish but also in New Orleans East and Gentilly since the St. Bernard Project began in July 2006. While other nuns have accompanied church groups since Katrina, this was the first all-nun group, Sister Regina Marie told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese.