“Kayak Priest” Embodies Faithful’s Response to Hurricane Victims

A young priest from Houston is using his kayak to get around the stricken city of Houston as Hurricane Harvey continues to pummel southern Texas with epic amounts of rainfall, embodying the support that is pouring in from the faithful across the U.S.

ABC13-KTRK is reporting on Father David Bergeron, CC, a French Canadian priest who is serving at the Catholic Charismatic Center in East Houston who was returning from a kayak trip to Galveston when he found himself stranded on a highway due to rising floodwaters in Houston. After spending the night in his truck, he decided to launch his kayak in the morning and explore the flooded streets in search of provisions for his fellow priests and wine to celebrate Mass with stranded neighbors.

“I tried to go back home for Mass and I guess I didn’t make it,” Father Bergeron told a reporter while sitting in his temporarily beached kayak. He had just visited a nearby convenience store for some more supplies for his fellow priests, as well as wine to celebrate Mass for nearby stranded neighbors.

“I even tried to buy wine right now to say Mass with some of the people who are stranded here but that didn’t happen because it’s not noon yet. But we need to wait for noon to buy alcohol on Sunday,” Father Bergeron said.

As KTRK reports, Texas liquor laws prevent alcohol sales on Sundays before noon.

“It’s not that I usually buy alcohol that early in the morning,” he said with a laugh, “but I had wanted to say Mass with the few people who are stranded.”

From Quebec, Canada, he said that he was praying for everyone in need.

Father Bergeron’s prayers are being joined by millions across the country as Hurricane Harvey continues to bring flooding rains to the area.

Due to conflicting messages about evacuation, thousands of people are now stranded in Houston after Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) advised people to evacuate while Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told them to stay put. As a result of the confusion, many of those who chose to stay are now needing to be rescued from their homes which are rapidly filling up with water even while another 15 to 25 inches is expected to fall before the storm exhausts itself.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has called for all people of good will to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead.

“Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region. The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them. Many dioceses of the Church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues,” he said.

As the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, this crisis hits very close to home, he continued. “In solidarity with my brother bishops in this area of the country, I call on people of faith to pray for all of those who have been impacted by this Hurricane, and I ask people of good will to stand with the victims and their families.

“May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion, protect all who are still in danger, and bring to safety those who are missing. May He care in a special way for those who were already homeless, or without support and resources, before this disaster. We pray in thanksgiving for the first responders who are risking their lives to save others at this very moment. We include in our intentions the everyday heroes reaching out to help their neighbors in need, those who, like the Good Samaritan, cannot walk by a person in need without offering their hand in aid.”

The USCCB is working very closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic Charities USA and St. Vincent de Paul along with other relief organizations to assess the needs on the ground. They plan to keep the faithful advised of the best way to help with the material needs of the people in these stricken areas.

Click here to donate funds to Disaster Operations of Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston.

Donations can also be made to the American Red Cross by clicking here, or calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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