King Abdullah Benefits the Academy

“And they came from the East bearing gifts…” —Matthew 2:11

Jude Boylan Wiggins, Mount Carmel Academy Class of ’61

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area, the news of the devastation spread via every media source around the world. The degree of destruction and the amount of suffering did not fall on deaf ears. In this ever-shrinking world, one of our own Mount Carmel Cubs from the Class of 1961 was serving as an executive of Aramco Services Corporation. Her company, based in Saudi Arabia, and under the leadership of the monarch of Saudi Arabia, set up an in-house corporate committee to oversee the feasibility of in-kind giving to the people of the most affected area. The committee members began their fact-finding by talking to their co-worker, Jude Boylan Wiggins, ’61, a New Orleans native, whose family still lived in the Lakeview area of the city.

Jude knew of the flooding at Mount Carmel Academy from the pictures on our web-site, but like so many who were trying to reach anyone in the New Orleans area, Jude 18 soon realized that she could not connect with anyone at Mount Carmel Academy by phone. The land lines were destroyed throughout the entire metropolitan area and the cell phones were jammed and unusable. Jude then returned to our website and posted a message, as many of our students, parents and teachers had already done. Our web masters passed Jude’s message of a possible source of help to Sister Camille Anne and the connection was made. Sister supplied Jude with a list of items that were destroyed in the flood and Jude’s plea for her school was answered quickly and generously by Aramco.

In a time when much of the strife in our world is defined by religious intolerance, the Muslim King of Saudi Arabia authorized the purchase of over $300,000 in replacement items “from the people of Saudi Arabia to the students of New Orleans.” We were urged to list the items that most directly affected the students. As a result, much of the furnishings and supplies on the first floors of seven Academy buildings were paid by our new donor, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Jude Wiggins had worked for Aramco for many years and was two months from retirement when she became a major instrument of recovery by connecting such an unlikely pair—Sister Camille Anne and the King of Saudi Arabia. As Jude tells it, “I know the hand of God was in it, placing me in the right place at the right time. After all those years with the company, I was happy that I was able to help my alma mater in a time of such tragedy.” With the pride of a long-term and loyal employee, Jude spoke very highly of the people of Saudi Arabia. She shared that the great majority of the people of that country wish to show that they are friends of the United States, and they were very happy to be able to demonstrate that friendship in our time of need.

Reprinted from “Mount Carmel Academy Reflections,” Fall/Winter issue. Used with permission.

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