(RNS) With a light rain falling, hundreds of New Orleanians gathered at St. Louis Cathedral on Sunday (Aug. 29) afternoon to remember Hurricane Katrina in grief, gratitude and hope, in the words of New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
A 45-minute ceremony in the cathedral on Jackson Square attracted clergy and members of eight world religions in New Orleans, each offering a short prayer from his or her own tradition.
In various ways, participants mourned the loss of nearly 1,500 New Orleanians five years ago today.
They also expressed gratitude for the kindness of strangers and volunteers, and prayed together for a better future.
Suffering is the crucible of greatness, said Bishop Michael Rinehart, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.
Rinehart drew a chuckle when he began his message by quoting from the gospel of Brees, holding aloft the memoir of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees in which Brees describes the fear and uncertainty that followed the shoulder injury that threatened his football career.
But as Brees found and as New Orleans finds today, after suffering comes rebirth, and in rebirth comes greatness, Rinehart said.
We will never be the same again, he said.
Thank God, we will never be the same again.