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Chuck Haga, Forum Communications, Published November 14 2012

Returning favor from 1997 flood, Grand Forks church donates to Sandy-damaged NJ church

GRAND FORKS - St. Michael’s Catholic Church here is sending a hurricane-stricken namesake parish in New Jersey more than $15,000 “and the prayers of 1,000 parishioners,” the Rev. Gerard Braun said Tuesday.

The money was collected during Masses over the weekend.

The New Jersey church, St. Michael’s in Long Branch, was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and a subsequent Nor’easter storm last week. The homes and businesses of many parishioners were affected, according to a church official there.

St. Michael‘s in Long Branch had come to the aid of St. Michael’s in Grand Forks 15 years ago after the church suffered more than $4 million in damage in the flood of 1997.

The Rev. William Sherman, now retired, was at St. Michael’s then and went to New Jersey to thank the people of Long Branch. When he heard about Hurricane Sandy’s impact, he suggested a “payback” collection.

“We collected about $15,600, and the money is still coming in,” Braun said. “I spoke with Father Chuck Weiser, the pastor there, and he was most grateful.”

Braun said the special collection for the New Jersey St. Michael’s coincided with the church’s annual appeal for parishioners to pledge their giving for the coming year, and that was a great success.

“That spirit of generosity caught fire,” he said. “Several people mentioned to me that they thought it was a good thing we were doing, coming to the aid of the church that helped us.”