The Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick have called New Orleans home since 1914, spending nearly a century tending to the sick and dying in their time of greatest need. The devastation Katrina left behind threatened to permanently chase the 18 nuns from their beloved city.
"We never evacuated in our whole lives," said Mother Superior Silvia Juarez. "When we heard there was a mandatory evacuation, we decided we should think about leaving, but we only had two cars available to us and we couldn’t fit 18 sisters in them. We decided some should go. That was a very difficult decision. Six sisters left and 12 stayed behind."
The nuns who stayed at the convent on 5001 Perlita St. were soon chased to the second floor by 5 feet of floodwater the day after the storm. They spent the next three days awaiting rescue.
They took in two elderly neighbors and three young men, providing them with food, water and shelter.
When a passing rescue boat spotted the nuns standing on the roof of the convent still wearing full white habits in the festering heat, the sisters insisted their neighbors be rescued first.
That boat returned with two others that ferried the nuns to safety as the last people rescued in Lakeview.
Fifteen months later, the Servants are back in their convent thanks to the hard work of volunteers from across the country and help from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana and Shell Oil.
You can more about their ordeal here.