Joyful prayers, songs and conversation could be heard along the street as the parish community of St Francis de Sales in Belle Harbour gathered to observe the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was the main celebrant of an evening Mass of remembrance and thanksgiving on October 26.
As parishioners filled the pews, it was hard to believe a year had passed since that night when wind, water and fire ravaged their homes and community.
Some are rebuilding or have already done so. Many are determined to return. Others may never come back.
Looking upon the congregation, Bish-op DiMarzio recalled the tragedies that had befallen them over the past 12 years – from the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks and the November 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 shortly after takeoff from New York’s Kennedy International Airport, to last year’s hurricane.
The bishop asked how one community could be so resilient, and he offered this answer: “You’ve kept the faith.”
Noting how appropriate it was that themes of consolation, poverty, humility and hope were weaved through the day’s readings, the bishop assured the faithful that, as the responsorial psalm said, “God hears the cry of the poor.”
“I’ve run the race. I’ve kept the faith,” the bishop said, repeating the words of St Paul to Timothy in the second reading.
“How much is that a message for the people of Belle Harbour? You’ve kept the faith and it’s been a tough race in many ways.”
Bishop DiMarzio said St Paul states that the crown of righteousness awaits those who continue to profess the faith, to live the faith.