Sunday, April 6, 2008
New Orleans: A Missionary Church
The 7th Annual Satchmo Fest in New Orleans Held in St. Augustine Catholic Church
Archbishop Hughes of New Orleans has announced that major changes will soon be coming to that Archdiocese. Some of the churches were struggling before the devastation of Katrina. All have been affected since. No new Catholic Schools will be opening at this time.
So what can parishioners expect? Some churches will be closed, many consolidated. None of the decisions have been made lightly. Whatever is decide all will know those decisions were the result of hard work, deliberations, assessment and prayer.
The Archdioceses is the second oldest in the country. However, after the very fabric of the city was ripped apart by Katrina and its aftermath the church has become, in the Archbishop’s words, “a missionary church.” That is a huge change from one of the oldest, largest and most vibrant Catholic communities in the nation.
A letter announcing that the decisions will be forthcoming was sent to all 140 parishes in the area. The Holy Cross fathers have also announced that they will have to leave the city and the churches they were at, not because of Katrina but because of their won dwindling number of priests.
These are indeed difficult times for the area. The area is still missing 20% of its pre-Katrina parishioners. The expectation is that the dioceses will continue to lose priests for the next five years. However, the Archbishop anticipated the sense of loss and seems to respond with a sense of “God is in control” and “fear not”. He stated, "We will move forward together with fewer priests, fewer churches, fewer schools, but, hopefully, with a greater evangelizing spirits,"
I find my heart going out to my friends at St. Augustine Catholic Church. Let us pray for them and all of New Orleans as our brothers and sisters struggle to make important decisions that will affect them for years to come.