January 6, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We are excited in New Orleans as we celebrate the Tricentennial of its founding. We have received a blessing from our Holy Father Pope Francis and a letter from his personal representative, the Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre (see page 4). It is a blessing to know that in Rome we are being remembered and prayed for as we celebrate.
It is a time for us to recall our history even before New Orleans was founded in 1718. Missionaries were here ministering to the Native American people of the Mississippi Valley. Our roots go back many generations, and certainly the Catholic Church has influenced the city and has helped us to develop who we are and what we believe in spiritually.
A city of saints
Please join me in remembering the lives of those who have gone before us and who have worked in New Orleans: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini; St. Rose Philippine Duchesne; Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, who has been beatified; and Venerable Henriette Delille, for whom we are awaiting beatification. They, along with many others, have continued to foster the kingdom of God among us in our great city.
I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all priests serving in our archdiocese who give of themselves so generously to lead and shepherd the people of God. I am also grateful to the women and men religious who are an important part of our ministry and who have labored here since the city was founded.
Ursuline Sisters out front
We remember with gratitude that it was the Ursuline Sisters who opened the convent on Chartres Street, which became the first Catholic girls’ school in the United States as well as what now is called Catholic Charities. The religious communities who have served in our archdiocese have, in many ways, helped to shape who we are as the people of God in New Orleans.
I am also grateful to the lay faithful. Thank you for your faith and for the ways in which you grow in your relationship with the Lord Jesus and faithfully serve in your parish that it may become a more alive community of faith. I am particularly grateful to so many who have participated in our Ninth General Synod and are helping us to become a stronger and more welcoming church.
We are blessed to have the statue of St. Pope John Paul II outside of our cathedral. The statue, which was commissioned for the Tricentennial, is our gift to the city. It was blessed by Pope Francis in November of 2017 and will be blessed at the cathedral on January 7 at the opening Mass for the Tricentennial.
May God continue to bless our great City of New Orleans and help us to continue to make it a faith-filled place where the church is alive and is led by the Holy Spirit.
Wishing you God’s blessings, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans