Growing up in the Catholic school system of New Orleans holds fond memories for me. We had a school mass every week, and starting in the fifth grade, we students were allowed to do the readings, carry up the gifts, and sing in the choir. This was more than just studying to receive the sacraments and putting on a frilly dress for a ceremony. Every week, in our plaid uniforms, we were the church.
Sure, when you’re young it may come off as another hour to be out of class or “people-watch” instead of listen, but I very much miss the sense of community that those weekly masses instilled in me. Even though I was always upset when our priests were “stationed” somewhere else, I think having the physical place and ceremony always made me feel that I belonged to something larger. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I’ve never felt at home in any other church aside from St. Raphael the Archangel. Had Katrina not happened, it’s likely I would have been married in that church, but I was never given that option.
Today, many parishioners of churches in New Orleans that did not even suffer the water damage St. Raphael experienced are also not being given an option. Today, the Archdiocese [reminiscent of my time in 1992 when my high school the Academy of the Holy Angels was forced to close due to financial strain] announced numerous church closures and merges. A map and list can be found on these pages, but this video of local author and livejournaler Poppy Z Brite is most powerful:
|Poppy Z. Brite decries Uptown church closing|
Let us hope the people and the protests save some of the churches and parishes that need not be disturbed, especially when these structures help hold most neighborhoods together, particularly now.