Capuchin Franciscan Father Teodoro Agudo will bid farewell to St. Theresa of Avila Parish after 49 years of ministry with a Mass of Thanksgiving Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. at the church, 1404 Erato St., New Orleans.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be the principal celebrant of the Mass, which will honor Father Agudo, who has served at the 170-year-old Warehouse District church for 49 years, the last 45 as pastor. They will be joined by Father Roman Burgos, the new pastor of St. Theresa.
A reception will follow at St. Michael Special School, 1522 Chippewa St., New Orleans, where Father Agudo has celebrated weekly Mass for the students for many years.
“I have been able to keep up the church even with all the problems that we’ve had with the lack of resources,” Father Agudo, 89, said in June. “When people come here they say, ‘Oh, you have such a beautiful church,’ and I say, ‘Yes, and it’s an oldie. So, don’t be afraid of getting old. Just take care of yourself!’”
Father Agudo plans to return to Spain and reside with fellow Capuchin Franciscans in Madrid.
St. Theresa of Avila Church was built in 1848, making it the second-oldest church in the archdiocese next to St. Patrick on Camp Street, which dates to 1840. St. Louis Cathedral was largely rebuilt in 1851.
Father Agudo arrived in New Orleans in 1969 in part because of the Cuban revolution. When Fidel Castro imposed his communist rule in Cuba, the 20 Capuchin Franciscans from Spain who had been serving in Cuba were expelled, and their superior decided to send them first to Miami. Since by then there were enough Spanish-speaking priests for the area, his community then asked Archbishop Philip Hannan if the Capuchins could serve in New Orleans.
One of Father Agudo’s final projects is getting donations to fund additional repair work on St. Theresa’s pipe organ, which he has been told is “the oldest pipe organ still working” in the metropolitan New Orleans area. It is believed to date to the late 19th century.