Posted June 2007
In October 2005 a second collection was taken up at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles. It was earmarked for Hurricane Katrina victims.
St. Lawrence is an inner-city church of 3,000 families — about 80 percent Hispanic and 20 percent African-American — people of very modest means. The normal parish collection is about $6,000. But on this weekend parish members extended themselves to help others in more immediately dire circumstances. The second collection alone amounted to $7,000.
Those counting the collection also found a church donation envelope with a message written on it in Spanish. Translated, it read: “For the victims of the hurricane. I did not bring any money. But this should be of some value. It is with all of my heart.” Inside was a gold wedding ring with small notches on the outside.
"It just touched my heart," said Capuchin Franciscan Father Peter Banks, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish, told The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “This woman had nothing and she reached down on her hand and took off her ring. ... This was all she had, and she gave it with all her heart.”
He added: “Watts has this bad image of violence, but Watts is full of goodness. There are saints living within our midst. Our parishioners do relate to tragedy and suffering. It is very humbling to realize I am living among the poorest of the poor, but they are the wealthiest in so many ways.”
Proceeds from the collection assisted recovery efforts at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Pontchartrain Park. The church had been flooded by water eight feet deep.
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