DODGE CITY, Kan. – With his church believed to be destroyed by a powerful tornado and his parishioners “scattered to the four winds,” Father Gregory LeBlanc, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Greensburg, spent part of May 6 visiting the displaced in local shelters.
“St. Joseph Church seems to have been one of the structures devastated by Friday night’s tornado. By most accounts it was destroyed,” Father LeBlanc said in a parish bulletin posted on the Web site of the Diocese of Dodge City.
“It was so good to visit with a number of you Sunday in the shelters,” the priest said. “I am at a loss as we look at what needs to be done now and what needs to be done in the future. God bless us and keep us together even as we are scattered about.”
Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore of Dodge City asked for prayers for the people of Greensburg and other towns devastated by the May 4 tornado, which the National Weather Service classified as an F5 storm, with winds exceeding 200 mph.
“In addition to our prayerful support, I know that we want to be of whatever material assistance we can be,” the bishop said in a May 7 statement. “Catholic Social Service plays a distinctive role in responding to these crises.”
Bishop Gilmore asked each parish in the diocese to hold a special collection or send funds from its general treasury to assist in the recovery efforts.
At least 10 people died in the tornado. Greensburg, a town of about 1,500 people, was about 95 percent destroyed, according to City Administrator Steve Hewitt.