My Kind of Town

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

A friend of mine called the other day to make arrangements to get together. She told me to meet her on the corner of Nuns and Religious. Any place besides New Orleans and I would have thought she was just joking around. But, sure enough, down here such streets exist along with Ursulines and Dominican.

To the Northerner, New Orleans is another country, seductive and disorienting. To the Southerner is part of the family; a little eccentric; French and very Roman Catholic even in the midst of a very Anglo-Saxon culture.

New Orleans is celebrating its tri-centennial this year, and the connections this city has with all things Catholic are legion. Beginning with the arrival of the Jesuits in 1725, Ursulines in 1727, the Daughters of Charity in 1820, the Dominicans in 1860 (and many others) and continuing to the present with the many religious orders that joined in the recovery efforts after Katrina, the city has maintained a Catholic culture that might be hard to find in a lot of places. The people living in the neighborhood around the Peace Center are always telling us stories about the Sisters who used to live in the area and visit with them before Katrina.

Many saints and blesseds have ministered to the people here: St. Frances Cabrini, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, Blessed Henriette Delille. They have left schools and medical facilities in their wake that continue efforts to minister to the poor and the marginalized. Xavier University is a Catholic all Black institution of higher learning founded by Saint Katherine Drexel, and the Peace Center has the honor of working with many students from there who volunteer in our After School program.

Even Mardi Gras has tried to honor the role of the Catholics in this town. In 2017, in honor of their 175th Anniversary, the Sisters of the Holy Family had their own float in one parade. In 2018, in honor of the tri-centennial, the Krewe of Rex provided floats decorated with figures of Blessed Henriette, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the Ursuline Sisters and St. Louis Cathedral.

In his reflection during our celebration of Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese, Archbishop Aymond shared that recently someone had said to him that religious women were a total part of the history of this city. He responded no; they had actually written the history of this city.

Is this a super holy city? Nope. Is it a city filled with evil? Nope. But it is filled with folks who have been helped by Sisters, Brothers, Nuns and Priests for 300 years and more. God is good! All the time!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

18 responses to “My Kind of Town

  1. Hi Pat — thanks so much for your reflection about ‘my’ city – New Awlins! Of course I have MANY memories! And so many orders of men and women religious staffed schools, hospitals, parishes, etc. and came to help so many people after Katrina.
    I ‘echo’ Betty Doskey’s recommendation of the book FRENCHMEN, DESIRE, GOOD CHILDREN. …for insight about the names of streets and avenues.

  2. As Dominican Associate are there any economical lodging You might be aware of for about a 5 days? Never been to Nawlins but always wanted to go.

  3. Sr. Pat:

    I have been trying to find you. I received this contact information from a former classmate. I had called and emailed where I thought you were a couple of years ago, but no response. We have not talked for many years, we should catch up! You now have my email. please respond.

    Bob Hoyt

  4. Susan, what a remarkable insight that you discovered and shared with us. Oh, that we could touch this younger generation! But how?

  5. Pat:
    There is no city in the world like “Nawlins”. You captured it well! I spent some wonderful years at the EMD Motherhouse, a couple of blocks from the best Mardi Gras Parades.

    Cathryn Wright OPA

  6. Sr.Pat, I have visited NO, but did not get to see Xavier University, the University founded by St. Katherine Drexel.
    I was grateful to know about how Katherine Drexel used her father’s money for such a wonderful cause.

  7. Sr.Pat, I have visited NO, but did not get to see Xavier University, the University founded by St. Katherine Drexel.
    I was grateful to know about how Katherine Drexel used her father’s money for such a wonderful cause.

  8. Having lived there much of my religious life(EMD) I can say you have captured the reality very well. It’s a whole different world. thanks, Maria Emmanuel

  9. I am very familiar with the corner of Nuns and Religious. The Curtin Chemical supplies store used to be located at that corner, and since I taught in the chemistry Department of St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans, I frequently went to Curtin in person to get my order straightened out.

    There is a great book about street names in New Orleans: “Frenchmen Desire Goodchildren.” (These were actual names of streets in New Orleans. I highly recommend reading it.

    By the way, there is now a Drexel Drive, near Xavier University, the University founded by St. Katherine Drexel. I remember meeting Mother Katherine years ago at Xavier University. In the past, I taught at Xavier University and I also taught at Xavier Prep (high school) before that.

  10. Loved learning of this rich history! Thanks so much, Pat! (And thanks for your ministry at the Peace Center!) Blessings on you all.

    Peace!

    Pat Mood

  11. Sr Pat,
    What a wonderful reflection on the Catholic culture of our city! And the city is still blessed with the presence of the Peace Center, and with you and Ceil and Sue living, witnessing and preaching here. Yes, God is good, always!

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