Creative ideas, concerted effort are fruits of synod

By John Smestad Jr., Pastoral Planning and Ministries

In May, I detailed the resources and initiatives that the offices and agencies of the Archdiocese of New Orleans have offered to help all parishes and institutions achieve the five priorities and 21 goals of the archdiocese’s 9th General Synod.

Using recent progress reports provided by more than 70 parishes, I am pleased to highlight achievements in each of the archdiocese’s 10 deaneries in meeting the synod’s priorities and goals. Some of these achievements are simple and others more complex, but they touch on all five priorities.

I plan to share synod accomplishments every two months. If your parish isn’t mentioned this time, it might be the next time!

  •  In the Cathedral Deanery, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish formed a parish evangelization committee and placed welcome cards in the pews at every Mass for all who might want to join the parish family. More than 70 cards were received, and the committee made personal phone calls to each person/family to invite them to a coffee social to learn more about the parish. St. Louis Cathedral launched a new Bible study series that has had strong attendance.
  • In the City Park-Gentilly Deanery, St. Paul the Apostle implemented a small-group, faith-sharing program that has parishioners organized into 24 small groups that meet at least twice yearly for prayer, formation and fellowship. St. Pius X expanded its family life ministry to include a variety of activities/programs to meet various groups “where they are.” This includes a divorced/widowed outreach, marriage renewal “luau” event, domestic church circle, “singles night refresh” and multi-generational faith-and-family nights.
  • In the Uptown Deanery, Good Shepherd Parish established a “St. Paul Street Evangelization Team” that goes out to meet residents in the parish and those literally on the streets, especially the busy Magazine Street corridor. St. Francis of Assisi is hiring a paid marriage and family life coordinator.
  • In the East Jefferson Deanery, both St. Edward the Confessor Parish and St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Metairie have placed two parishioners each in the Institute for Lay Ecclesial Ministry and are financially supporting their studies. St. Benilde Parish in Metairie incorporated the vocation lesson plans offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops into its Parish School of Religion program. The parish has been regularly featuring vocation information on its website and in its bulletin.
  • In the St. John-St. Charles Deanery, St. Joan of Arc Parish in LaPlace recruited five married couples to receive training and serve in their marriage preparation ministry. St. Charles Borromeo in Destrehan established a prison ministry with St. Charles (civil) Parish, partnered with the St. Charles (civil) Parish for housing rehabilitation for the poor and elderly, and hosted its first racial harmony workshop.
  • In the Westbank Deanery, St. Martha Parish in Harvey established a social justice committee, launched a food pantry program, held a first Fair Trade fair and expanded an annual Lenten anti-hunger campaign with civic leaders.
  • In the Algiers-Plaquemines Deanery, All Saints Parish in Algiers launched a new Good Friday custom of an outdoor Stations of the Cross procession in the neighborhood. Also, after surveying parishioners, All Saints changed the time of evening services to better accommodate their work schedules.
  • In the St. Bernard Deanery, both St. David Parish in New Orleans and St. Thomas Parish (Pointe a la Hace)/Assumption Mission (Braithwaite) have added youths to the Pastoral Council and lector ministry. They have added high school seniors delegated as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion to serve at parish Masses.
  • In the West St. Tammany Deanery, Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Mandeville and St. Benedict Parish and St. Peter Parish in Covington expanded confession times to multiple days a week. Our Lady of the Lake Parish and Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Mandeville each hired a full-time youth minister.
  • In the East St. Tammany Deanery, Annunciation Parish in Bogalusa launched a new parish website and a Facebook page with multi-media content about parish activities and faith formation suggestions. St. Luke the Evangelist, St. Margaret Mary, St. Genevieve and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Slidell launched a collaborative racial harmony program.

If you would like to know more about any of the above initiatives, please contact either that parish or my office. Thank you to all the people of the archdiocese who are contributing their time and talent to helping us “encounter Jesus and witness with joy.”

John Smestad Jr. is executive director of the Office of Pastoral Planning and Ministries. He can be reached at 861-6294 or

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