The people in darkness

[caption id="attachment_21664" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Beach 130th Street in Rockaway, destroyed by fire during Hurricane Sandy.[/caption]This piece by the Huffington Post captures the Catholic ethos that's quietly at work in many of the New York and New Jersey communities struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The writer visited one of the most devastated areas, Breezy Point on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, NY, to report on St. Thomas More Parish. He also notes the central role another Catholic parish in Rockaway, St. Francis de Sales, is playing in the relief effort.New York City is around 40 percent Catholic, and some of the flooded areas, such as Rockaway and Staten Island, have particularly large Catholic populations. In both places, the Catholic imagination had a lot to do with how grief was expressed following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Many 9/11 victims -- firefighters and financial workers -- were buried from St. Francis de Sales Church. And two months after 9/11, the parish responded with compassion following a plane crash that killed hundreds of people practically on its doorstep.I do not discount the good work being done by people of all religions and none, but it's worth noting that the sense of service, solidarity and community that is part of the Catholic worldview really shines in the darkness of these disasters. It helps to shape a city's and a region's response.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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