Monday, October 3, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A place to pray again after storm

NEW ORLEANS — Churchgoers gathered to pray at the historic St. Louis Cathedral yesterday, convening in the building described as the "soul of the city" for its first Sunday Mass since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans more than a month ago.

Emergency workers and soldiers, many of them out-of-towners who descended on Louisiana after the hurricane, mixed with newly returning residents as they prayed for the resolve to carry on.

Louisiana Archbishop Alfred Hughes spoke of the more than 900 people who died and offered hope for those who remain to face rebuilding a devastated region.

"This is indeed an historic moment in the life, not only in the church of New Orleans but in the whole city," Hughes said. "The structure which harbors the soul of our city has come back to life."

Hughes reassured the congregation that God did not cause the hurricane to punish evildoers. "God tolerates evil in order that we may ultimately realize a greater good," he said, urging those gathered to keep a close relationship with God.

Some churchgoers wept during the service, as the choir and congregation sang hymns about finding shelter in a storm and getting through dark times. The communion hymn contained the lyrics, "I am hope for all who are hopeless ... I will bring you home."

Located in Jackson Square, the Roman Catholic cathedral was originally built in 1727. The first Church of St. Louis lasted 61 years, until it was destroyed by fire. The triple-spired cathedral was rebuilt on the same location. It was virtually untouched by Katrina's fierce winds and high waters.


Legislators seek abuse investigation

Louisiana legislators have asked state officials to investigate allegations that prisoners who were evacuated to a rural facility because of Hurricane Katrina are being physically abused by guards. Many of the evacuees had been awaiting trial or were being held on misdemeanor charges.

Pamela LaBorde, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the department takes the allegations "very seriously" and will send personnel to the prison in Jena, in north-central Louisiana, today to start an inquiry.


Officials expected pumping of floodwaters from New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward to be completed by midweek, said Mitch Frazier, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers. Electricity had been restored to about 29 percent of New Orleans customers and about 98 percent of Jefferson Parish customers, said Chanel Lagarde, a spokesman for Entergy Corp.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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