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St. Joseph Rebuild Center

The St. Joseph Rebuild Center is a coalition of Catholic and other faith-based organizations serving the Canal Street corridor.

The purpose of the Rebuild Center is to provide a setting, resources and opportunities for collaboration among Catholic and other faith-based organizations in the City of New Orleans. The center works with needy and displaced residents to rebuild their lives and repopulate this neighborhood.

Lantern Light, Inc. is a Collaborative Project of the Conference of Presentation Sisters of North America and has been responding to the “cry of those made poor” in New Orleans since September 2005. The ministry reaches out in faith to people who are homeless and those made poor, a bearer of hope as its various manifestations are nurtured, by encouraging, supporting, comforting, assisting and being a compassionate, listening presence to those encountered.

Months before Katrina unleashed its deadly forces on the Gulf Coast, the Vincentians of the Southern Province were already discussing and making plans to reorganize their ministry in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It was felt that a Vincentian presence at St. Joseph Church would afford a better opportunity to work collaboratively with other religious and lay people in pursuing the Vincentian charism of evangelizing the poor, especially the abandoned poor. The lasting destruction in the St. Joseph neighborhood following Hurricane Katrina only served to strengthen the rationale to focus resources at St. Joseph.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina the Harry Tompson Center, a day shelter for the homeless begun in 1999, provided 50,000 units of service annually and was an integral component of the Continuum of Care, the region-wide plan implemented by UNITY of Greater New Orleans, a consortium of over 70 homeless service organizations serving Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Having lost its program space to the floods of Katrina, the HTC is proud to be one of the partners in the Rebuild Center.

Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing floods crippled many of the works and affiliated ministries of the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province, and destroyed the provincial office. Immaculate Conception Parish rectory and church basement flooded, as did their primary ministry to the homeless, the Harry Tompson Center located just next to the church. Without a congregation to support it, a staff to work in it, and a building to house it, it initially appeared that the HTC would not reopen. But a conversation between the Jesuits, UNITY for the Homeless and the Presentation Sisters around a kitchen table in the back of St. Joseph’s church sparked a dream for a new collaborative ministry through which services provided to homeless people by each individual organization could be saved and strengthened.

Depaul USA has been ministering at the Rebuild Center since January 2012. Depaul USA is a part of DePaul International, parent of the Depaul Group, a worldwide family of charities working with people who are homeless. The Depaul Group is inspired by the values of Saint Vincent de Paul, a major social reformer in 17th Century France. Depaul works to support people who are homeless and marginalized around the world. We currently operate in the UK, Ireland, France, Slovakia, Ukraine and the USA.

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