St. Augustine Catholic Church
I am taking a break in my French Quarter series to dedicate this post to St. Augustine Catholic Church, who is celebrating its 175 anniversary this year!
Now, I am not trying to convince any of you that you need to go to church or to persuade you religiously in any way… I would just like to share with you a place that has meant a great deal to me the past two years.
Now, I grew up Catholic, but I have not made up my mind about organized religion, or if/where it belongs in my life. All I know is that I believe in a higher power and St Augustine has been the most comfortable place for me to connect with this being.
When I moved to New Orleans I decided I wanted to start attending church regularly again. So, one Sunday I went to a catholic church down the street from my apartment. I almost walked out half-way through mass because this church (who will not be named) represented every issue I have found with fundamental Catholicism…. closed-minded, judgmental, non-inclusive, and slightly offensive.
As disappointed as I was with this experience, I agreed to go with my good friend to a church in the Treme neighborhood called St Augustine. As soon as I walked through the doors I knew this place was something special. Instantly my ears were filled with the joyful noise of the amazing church choir. Let me tell you, this choir is the most amazing church choir I have heard, and they draw in people from all over the world to attend St Augustine.
When my friends and I first starting attending St Augustine, we were immediately welcomed into the family. We were greeted and hugged by other parishioners, and after attending mass for just a couple weeks, Fr Emmanuel invited us to dinner to get to know us better.
Listening to the priest – Fr Emmanuel’s – sermons, is the reason I get up on a Sunday morning, (regardless of what I did the night before…) and head to church. Unlike the priest at that first church I attended two years ago, Fr Emmanuel’s homilies are filled with positivity, hope, and inspiration. He encourages you not to judge people based on what they believe or where they came from, but to spread love and faith to everyone equally.
This church has been a sanctuary for me in times of both struggle and happiness. I know that when I am feeling down about anything, if I go to St Augustine on Sunday I will feel much better afterword. The sense of love, joy, community and acceptance one feels upon entering this church restores your faith in humanity, proves that no matter what happens there is good in the world, and inspires you to be that good in the world.
St Augustine is truly an extraordinary catholic church. The music is so beautiful it can bring you to tears. The homilies so inspiring it renews that spark inside you that makes you want to be a better person. And, the fellow parishioners who welcome you in, ask you how you are doing, make sure everyone has a hand to hold during the lord’s prayer, and who sing and dance with you to the beautiful music. The spirit of this church can be observed through its family prayer, which is said every week, and I have posted below.
Loving and faithful God, through the years the people of our archdiocese have appreciated the prayers and love of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in times of war, disaster, epidemic and illness. We come to you, Father, with Mary our Mother, and ask you to help us in the battle of today against violence,murder and racism.
We implore you to give us your wisdom that we may build a community founded on the values of Jesus, which gives respect to the life and dignity of all people.
Bless parents that they may form their children in faith. Bless and protect our youth that they may be peacemakers of our time. Give consolation to those who have lost loved ones through violence.
Hear our prayer and give us the perseverance to be a voice for life and human dignity in our community.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.
Mother Henriette Delille, pray for us that we may be a holy family.
Thank you to St Augustine and all of its people for being a special place of sanctuary and joy for me these past two years. You will forever be in my heart.
Paix et Amour