As I write this, the work of archdiocesan offices and agencies to create and provide resources called for by the implementation plan of the Ninth General Synod is nearly complete. The focus now, even more than a year ago, is on the most local level of our church, the parishes and deaneries, who are taking advantage of these resources and opportunities to address the most pressing of the priorities in their community.
Consider these “good news” stories selected from the many shared by our parishes this spring.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Parish in New Orleans has expanded its marriage and family ministry to include “anniversary parties” where, using an adaptation of the “Supper and Substance” model, couples with anniversaries from January through June are honored at one gathering, and a second gathering is held for those with anniversaries in July through December.
St. Peter Claver Parish in New Orleans, in an effort to enhance the quality of liturgies, surveyed parishioners and replaced two Sunday Masses with one, with a net increase in attendance and participation in one Mass as compared to two before the change.
City Park-Gentilly Deanery
Transfiguration of the Lord Parish in New Orleans, in response to the synod’s call for making the liturgy welcoming, established a choir for the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass, where previously there was just a cantor.
Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in New Orleans offered a Lenten Bible-study series that proved popular enough that it has been expanded as an on-going program year-round.
St. Patrick in New Orleans embraced the call to evangelize in connection with local cultural or civic events by opening the church for tours during the annual arts district “White Linen Night” that takes place just a block away.
St. Alphonsus in New Orleans embraced the synod call to live Catholic social teaching by establishing a “brown bag project” to provide brown bags of nutritious, non-perishable food to the downtown homeless on a weekly basis, plus monthly food drives for the Hope House food pantry.
East Jefferson Deanery
Our Lady of Divine Providence in Metairie has added five new Scripture-study small group programs for various audiences, with a diverse array of meeting days and times. The parish has also overhauled its website to include Catholic news, catechetical content and prayer resources.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Kenner established an evangelization committee that is focusing on outreach to the broader community including a church presence at the Italian-American Heritage Festival in Rivertown, and intentional outreach to visitors staying at the many airport-area hotels within the parish boundaries.
St. John-St. Charles Deanery
St. Gertrude Parish in Des Allemands established a new chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in response to the synod call to serve the poor in their own community. The new ministry has established a food pantry, home visit program, Thanksgiving basket drive and more.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Hahnville launched a 12-week marriage enrichment retreat with 25 couples from the area participating.
St. Martha Parish in Harvey held an educational program on prison reform and mass incarceration entitled, “Church of Second Chances.”
The Visitation of Our Lady Parish in Marrero established a new marriage-enrichment ministry with trained leadership and a calendar of programming to support married couples in the parish.
Holy Name of Mary Parish in Algiers formed a “welcoming ministry” that conducts intentional outreach to new parishioners including a home visit, a gift basket that includes information about the parish and its ministries, “welcome to the parish” yard signs and more.
St. Patrick in Port Sulphur has taken advantage of existing events such as the Halloween family pumpkin carving event, breakfast with Santa and the Orange Festival by adding promotion of parish ministries with sign-up opportunities at those occasions.
St. Bernard Deanery
Our Lady of Lourdes in Violet launched a Scripture-study program that is now engaging more than 25 percent of families in the parish.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Chalmette focused on evangelization with their Legion of Mary hand-delivering parish information and invitations to each household within the parish boundaries.
West St. Tammany Deanery
St. Benedict Parish created a paid youth minister position and arranged a dedicated youth room for meetings.
Most Holy Trinity Parish in Covington established an education series for parishioners on significant components of Catholic social teaching.
East St. Tammany Deanery
St. Genevieve Parish in Slidell invested in a significant technology upgrade including computers for the Parish School of Religion, an online giving platform and a new parish website that includes up-to-date ministry information.
St. Margaret Mary in Slidell established a vocations ministry that has created a permanent display case in church, scheduled vocation witness speakers in school and PSR classes, and launched a Vocations Chalice home visit program.
If you would like to know more about any of the above initiatives, please contact either that parish or my office. We are grateful to all who are contributing their time and talent toward helping our local Church “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 firstname.lastname@example.org.