The clipping is from the New York Times Free Archives, although, I did have to register first. It is dated October 15, 1904. There are more articles available at the archives about New Orleans Catholics. It is all over the headlines today that The Pope is visiting the United States. NPR has even presented a “How To” of sorts on meeting The Pope, “Etiquette Lesson: If You Meet the Pope“, which is quite informative. The local news stories reveal much about the Catholic church in Louisiana in recent events. The stories are copied below with links. Attached to one article was also a Yahoo Group. For those of you who do not know who the Children of Mary are here is a link to a Google book: A Protestant Dictionary.
POSTED: 3:51 pm CDT April 9, 2008
UPDATED: 6:50 pm CDT April 9, 2008
NEW ORLEANS — The decision to close a number of area Catholic churches doesn’t sit will with many church-goers who promised a fight.
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Some parishioners said they’ve already sacrificed enough.
“Our history is certain, it’s our future that is in question,” concerned parishioner Harold Baquet said.
After hearing about potential church closings two years ago, parishioners at Our Lady of Good Counsel said the archdiocese told them, “Keep the faith. If you meet certain goals, you can stay open.” Now that the parish is slated to close, leaders are turning to a higher power for help.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen,” chanted parishioners inside the chapel. Many are praying for their parish.
“Brothers and sisters, churches are built out of flesh and bone, churches are built from people,” Baquet said.
When Our Lady of Good Counsel on Louisiana Avenue closes, 400 church families will be without a home. John Morehiser said he was sad to hear the news.
“It’s part of our heritage — our family history,” Morehiser said.
The closing is all part of an archdiocese plan to “suppress” 27 local parishes.
“Which means not only would this building be sold–but our community would no longer exist. It would literally be erased from the book,” Parishioner Cheron Brylski said.
But Our Lady of Good Counsel leaders said they were told their church would be spared if they met a list of certain requirements.
“And we met those requirements which included how many parishioners we had, how much money we raised every week, and were we paying down our debt at a certain level,” Brylski said.
Many don’t want to lose a piece of the past. The gothic building was built in 1877.
“I defy anyone who cares for Catholic art and architecture to tour our church here and not to be moved to tears with the thought that it could be sold to the highest bidder,” church member Poppy Brite said.
Many said saving the church is a matter of the city’s salvation.
“We’re a microcosm of New Orleans: young, old, gay straight, black, white, Asian, Latino,” Brite said.
Morehiser said the issue is bigger than the Catholic Church. He said the city of New Orleans must rebuild infrastructure to rebuild communities.
“They can pray until the cows come home, but until they make some changes, they’re not going to get problems solved,” Morehiser said.
Parishioners said they will do whatever it takes to fight the decision, although they did not specify exactly what that meant. They are still hoping the archdiocese changes its mind. The parish council wondered if there is a way they could combine resources of two parishes for communion and confirmation and that way allow both to remain open.
Two N.O. church parishes to close, leaders are told
by Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
Thursday April 03, 2008, 9:14 PM
Key members of St. Henry parish said Thursday they have been told by their pastor that their 152-year-old-Catholic community, along with neighboring Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, are on a list of parishes to be closed in a sweeping reorganization of worship life the Archdiocese of New Orleans is to announce next week.
George Saucier and Alden Hagardorn said Monsignor Henry Engelbrecht broke the news to them and several other lay leaders at St. Henry’s in a late-morning meeting at the Uptown rectory Wednesday.
They said Engelbrecht told them the two parishes were to be formally dissolved — the canonical term is “suppressed” — and parishioners were to be incorporated into nearby St. Stephen parish.
Saucier said Engelbrecht told them that property associated with the two parishes would be sold off. Under church law, proceeds from the sale of property of a dissolved parish are expected to follow church members as they affiliate with a new parish.
Engelbrecht couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Sarah Comiskey, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, declined to comment on the report, except to warn that it might be premature.
“Nothing is final until the archbishop announces his final decision on April 9,” she said.
Saucier and Hagardorn said Engelbrecht told them and others he learned of the decisions in a Monday morning meeting involving him and several unidentified priests with Archbishop Alfred Hughes.
Hughes reportedly briefed them on decisions affecting their parishes, and asked them to let the archdiocese make the official announcements next week as part of a broad plan.
Asked why he thought Engelbrecht briefed his leadership anyway, Hagardorn said, “I think he feels he has an obligation to the people who put so much time into this church to tell them what’s going to happen.”
“He asked us to be quiet about it,” Saucier said. “We said we understand…but I’m fed up with the way the archdiocese is handling this. I don’t care if it comes out early or not. I’m fed up with the secrecy.”
Since autumn, the archdiocese has been planning to reshape parish life in the area. Much of the initiative is required by the massive damage to churches and surrounding communities dealt by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Shortly after the storm the archdiocese permanently closed nine parishes and missions and ordered parishioners in about two dozen others to worship with nearby, open parishes until permanent adjustments could be made.
In the meantime, the archdiocese has assessed the implications of $120 million in uninsured flood damage, the loss of a fifth of the area’s Catholic population and the migration of thousands of Catholic families to new neighborhoods in the area.
In addition, archdiocesan planners have said the deepening shortage of Catholic priests means change might come to beloved old parishes — like St. Henry, the 121-year-old Our Lady of Good Counsel — that were relatively unscathed by the storm, but are too small and too near each other to escape consolidation.
Although parishioners were involved in the early phases of self-reporting on the health and expected future of their parishes, the choices on closings, clusterings or downgrades to mission status have been narrowed in closed meetings by archdiocesan planners who will give final options to Hughes.
Nonetheless, lay leaders in both Uptown parishes have long known they were vulnerable to closing. St. Henry’s ministers to about 300 families; Our Lady of Good Counsel to about 450.
Parish leaders have been intensely interested in the planning outcome. One activist parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Cheron Brylski, said e-mail traffic spiked sharply Wednesday afternoon as activists believed they confirmed reports about the two parishes and began hearing rumors of other closures.
“It’s gotten increasingly high volume as people are hearing the same thing,” she said. “More and more people have been talking since yesterday evening.”
Bruce Nolan can be reached at email@example.com or (504) 826-3344.
National group resists parish closings
Members of Uptown church join coalition
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By Bruce Nolan
Defiant parishioners of an Uptown Catholic church slated for closure are among the first to join a national grassroots group that hopes to share ideas for resisting bishops’ orders to close parishes around the country.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish was represented in the New York debut Sunday of the Coalition of Parishes, a new group with representatives from Catholic communities in Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Camden, N.J., New York; and Toledo, Ohio. Bishops in all those dioceses have announced church closures in recent years.
The group, based in Boston, hopes to network with other parishes marked for closure around the country. It would share information on resources and share strategies for resistance in church and secular courts and in shaping public opinion, said one of its founders, Peter Borré, an energy consultant in Boston and a veteran of a four-year battle over parish closings there.
In addition, Orleans Parish Civil Parish Sheriff Paul Valteau, a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel, said Tuesday he has begun private research to see if the parish has any civil remedy to Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ decision to close the parish and merge its territory and membership with nearby St. Stephen parish.
The parish’s affiliation with the national group and Valteau’s research are parts of its early activism to keep the 121-year-old parish on Louisiana Avenue open, said Cheron Brylski, a public relations executive and Good Counsel member.
Brylski said the Boston group recruited the New Orleanians after hearing last week of Hughes’ decision to close 33 parishes in a post-Katrina reorganization of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Borré has emerged as a leader in Boston’s Council of Parishes, a local resistance group that sprang up after Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley began a restructuring process in late 2003 that slated 83 of Boston’s 357 parishes for closure.
Borré said resistant parishes filed nine suits in secular courts and six lawsuits in church courts, none of which has been successful so far. But the lawsuits were only part of a public uproar that continues to some extent to this day.
Even now, parishioners have occupied and maintain around-the-clock vigils at five Boston area churches once slated for closure, he said. The occupation has continued for more than three years, he said. Plans to close 83 parishes stopped at about 60.
“At its peak we had nine occupied churches. Today we have five. The archdiocese opened four of the nine and we take credit for that,” Borré said.
Moreover, Borré said that parishioners’ lawsuits in church courts often effectively block any attempt to sell properties. “Is that victory?” he asked. “No, but it’s progress.”
In New Orleans, Brylski said parishioners at Good Counsel hoped to hear about those and other lessons from the Boston experience.
Brylski said Good Counsel parishioners have not decided a full course of action yet. But she said “it’s not lost on us that St. Augustine (in New Orleans), which employed the same tactics some of the Boston churches did, is not on the closure list today.”
She added that St. Augustine, in the Treme neighborhood, staged “a very loud and very public demonstration to prevent their closing, and succeeded. We went the route the archbishop said we should go, meeting certain benchmarks, and we didn’t succeed.”
She was referring to a two-month standoff in the spring of 2006, when parishioners at St. Augustine persuaded Hughes to reverse an order to close their then-165-year-old parish. St. Augustine’s rectory was forcibly occupied for 20 days during that controversy.
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Bruce Nolan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 826-3344