Despite struggles, residents keep faith

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Sept. 3, 2017 at 9:42 p.m.
Updated Sept. 4, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Nora Molina, 64, walks in the front entrance of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church to celebrate Mass..

Nora Molina, 64, walks in the front entrance of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church to celebrate Mass..   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

Before Petra Duenez, 84, evacuated her Victoria mobile home to escape Hurricane Harvey with her family, her husband blessed the inside and outside with holy water.

Most trees in Duenez's yard collapsed and the shed's roof was lost, but her home remained untouched by the storm.

Duenez and her daughter, Josie Amejorado, 60, attended Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church on Sunday morning to give thanks to God for saving Duenez's home.

Last week, President Donald Trump declared Sunday a national day of prayer for Hurricane Harvey victims.

Amejorado said, "We absolutely know that God was watching over us because prayer is very powerful."

While the family stayed in Fort Worth, they continued to pray for the Crossroads every day, Duenez said. The family returned home Thursday.

"My husband and I pray the Lord's Prayer every day," she said. "We were just asking God to help us."

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church was damaged during a flood in 1998 and had to rebuild. Duenez said she kept faith the church would stand strong through the storm, as it did.

The mother and daughter both said it was a miracle the mobile home lost only some shingles because across the street at DeTar Hospital Navarro, one of the buildings has a giant hole in it.

"Keep your faith," Amejorado said. "Stay strong because God will answer your prayers."

Ismael and Graciela Perez regularly attend St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Bloomington, and both teach Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes. They attended the Victoria church because their home church was not able to celebrate Mass. The Bloomington church has substantial damage to its parish hall, including flood and roof destruction.

"We came here to give thanks to God. In the spirit of everything, we're here. None of us got hurt," Ismael Perez, 70, said.

The couple rode out the storm, and while their home didn't sustain much damage, their daughter's mobile home lost parts of its roof, ruining her belongings inside.

Perez has been watching over the church in the absence of its priest, who has planned to return this week and begin services next Sunday.

The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is when people's faith will be tested, Perez said.

"When we see in this situation that many homes really got damaged ... it's a time when really you put your faith to action, come together and help each other out and look for ways to give," he said.

During the wake of a natural disaster, people realize there's nothing more valuable than their faith, church and relationship with God, the Rev. Gabriel Espinosa said to the congregation during Mass.

"God has allowed us the grace to sort of re-examine what matters the most to us and that is one another; that is the church," he said. "We need to make sure in following Christ we take up our crosses. That is difficult to hear."

Jesus shares his cross because of love, Espinosa said.

"After this past week, we know we can carry these crosses. We've been doing it all week," he said. "Jesus says, 'Here is the cross. Take it.' How will we respond?"


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