Catholic volunteers help clean up after storm
Friday, Sep. 18, 2020
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The Sept. 8 windstorm downed 21 trees at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Salt Lake City. IC photo/Linda Petersen
SALT LAKE CITY — After hurricane-force winds caused extensive damage in northern Utah on Sept. 8, downing hundreds of trees, the Catholic community joined forces to lend a hand.
Judge Memorial Catholic High School students started collecting debris off the streets, as well as cutting up the branches of damaged trees, as a way to do their Christian service hours.
“A lot of the students could not do the services in the places that they used to, due to the COVID-19 restrictions,” said Celina Poppe, director of the JMCHS campus ministry, so helping clean up after the storm was a good opportunity to meet this requirement. Also, “coming together in difficult moments to help each other and the environment, is what Christian service is about,” she said.
Even before the windstorm hit, the school was looking to find outdoor settings where students could fulfill their service hours, she said.
The storm cleanup “was something that they could do in their neighborhood to get them hours and to give a hand to those most in need in a safe, secure matter,” said Poppe, who also helped with the recovery efforts. “Because we were outside, we could stay six feet away from each other, and we were working for the good of each other. … We are really called to come together in these times of need, of uncertainty, of challenges.”
While Poppe and some students were out cutting up several downed trees, some neighbors approached and began working alongside them, she said.
“We are part of a Christian community that is called to come together, and this was just one of those instances where we can do it being safe,” she said.
On Sept. 9, the Utah Knights of Columbus posted a Facebook plea for its members to help clean up the storm damage at the Carmelite monastery in Holladay, where about a dozen trees had been damaged. On Sept. 12, 47 members of the Knights of Columbus, as well as some family members, arrived at the Carmelite monastery with chain saws, hand saws and other tools to do the work.
“The damage to our property, including the uprooting and splitting of trees along with fallen branches, was devastating, especially after having tended and nurtured this land for many years,” wrote Mother Therese Bui in her thank-you letter to the Knights. “Our efforts alone to clear out the debris and restore the beautiful landscape would have been slow and disheartening. We were tremendously relieved and deeply touched to receive your generous assistance and wholehearted support. … Words cannot express the peace and joy you have given us as we see our home restored and can once again walk along the nature paths in quiet communion with God. ”
In other parts of the diocese, preliminary reports of storm damage came from the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the parishes of Holy Family and St. Olaf, The Madeleine Choir School and the Pastoral Center. At Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 21 trees were downed or damaged, several waterlines were broken, the flagpole was destroyed, and numerous grave markers were uprooted, said John Curtice, the cemetery director.
Intermountain Catholic editor Marie Mischel contributed to this article.