Posted: Apr 22, 2011 5:44 PM by Melissa Hawkes
Updated: Apr 22, 2011 5:46 PM
The Vermilion Parish town of Henry is small community that has been hit hard by hurricanes over the years. Even though many residents have left, one structure that has continued to stand strong is the church.
St. John Catholic Church Member, Nina Perrin, said "at one time our community filled this church. We had a lot of young families."
In it's day Henry was a thriving farming community, centered around the only church in town.
President of Church Council, Joey Hebert, said"the first hurricane that hit us was in 1957, which I guess was Hurricane Audrey. It didn't have the impact that Hurricane Rita did. Rita damaged this church as well as 90 percent of the homes in this community."
Now only a few people call Henry home. Perrin said, the church has been a constant beckon of hope in the community, especially after Hurricane Rita.
She remembers the first mass back, "not looking back at all the damage that had been done or all that we had lost--you could just see how happy we were just to be with one another that evening."
Thanks to donations from the community and money from the state. The church is getting the boost it needs to survive future hurricanes.
Hebert said, "they've gotten it to the height of about 11 feet. Then they are going to start putting blocks under it and cement pillars and lower it to nine feet."
Perrin said even though hurricanes have swept away three stores and closed down the only school in town, the one thing that can't be taken away is the residents faith.
Hebert said, "it hasn't dampen the spirit of the people, we still have a good attendance."
Perrin added, "the church is the one place in the community where we can gather."
It'll be at least three or four months until all of the work is complete. In the meantime, services are being held in a gymnasium in Henry.