Katrina Helps Teach Nun's Lesson of Faith

His wife, Rebecca, gave birth to their daughter just days before Katrina hit and is still rattled by their exodus, the uncertainty and what she sees happening to their city day after day on television.

"You take it one step at a time," he said. "And I don't know, I don't have the crystal ball."

But he thinks many who called New Orleans home -- loved the pace of it, the life of it, the very thought of it -- won't return.

It will likely be rebuilt, the pieces reassembled. But Arroyo doesn't know if it can ever be the same. And that can also be said of his life, he pointed out.

"When you're stripped of everything like this, when you have no home to go to, when you're a refugee, it purifies you. I mean, you're brought down to basics," Arroyo said softly. "But I found something on the other side of this horrible thing. Our house is gone, our material possessions are gone. But I'm more focused on my kids and my wife and my parents -- and we're all together here --

than I ever was before. And you do grow to a deeper appreciation of each and every little face around that table. And you cherish them more. You do."

He discovered something that Mother Angelica -- whose own life had been marred by so much tragedy -- wanted him to understand all these years that he has worked for her: things change, life shifts in ways you can't expect, what you have today could be gone tomorrow. Where you are now may not be where you will stay. And that's OK.

"I lost my home," he said. And he didn't just mean his house. He meant the city that he loved, and all that it meant to those who loved it, too. He looked toward where his wife, his children, his parents were gathered, starting the hard work of arranging life as evacuees. "I lost my home. But the heart of my home is with me."

Raymond Arroyo's Web site is http://www.raymondarroyo.com/.

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