OLGC Church in N.O. reopens after 8 years
Our Lady of Good Counsel Church unveiled its magnificently restored interior at a Dec. 13 Christmas concert of sacred music presented by the Good Shepherd Parish Choir, under the direction of organist Brian Morgan.
Located in the Garden District at 1307 Louisiana Ave., the 122-year-old church and its adjacent rectory are the new headquarters of the Center of Jesus the Lord, the local faith community of charismatic Catholics formerly based at the old Carmelite monastery on North Rampart Street in the French Quarter.
Before the concert, Center of Jesus the Lord’s chaplain, Oblate Father George Roy, told the near-capacity gathering that beginning Jan. 10, a Catholic charismatic Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The center already celebrates an 11 a.m. Mass on Tuesdays in the rectory chapel, just steps from the church.
Also, beginning in February, the chapel will be the site of eucharistic adoration on first Fridays at 7 p.m.
Overhaul respectful of past
The yearlong restoration of the 1894-completed church preserved its treasure trove of German-made stained-glass windows, frescos, Gothic arches, marble Communion railings, confessional boxes and stenciled, coffered ceiling, while incorporating modern amenities such as a new restroom, crying room, face-to-face reconciliation area, ground-floor bandstand and wheelchair-accessible ramp.
The facelift also included new A.C./heating, LED lighting, re-plastered and repainted walls and restoration of the church’s original pine flooring, discovered beneath a layer of asbestos tiling.
Still in need of repair are the choir loft – backed by intact stained-glass panels depicting the Madonna and Child surrounded by a choir of angels – as well as the church’s statuary and plaster stations of the cross. Tuck-pointing of exterior bricking is on the church’s long-range to-do list.
In addition to being the home of the Center of Jesus the Lord, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church will be available to the wider Catholic community for weddings, funerals, special occasions and as a place of prayer, said Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who attended the Dec. 13 concert as a guest of honor.
A Wednesday night rosary group of Our Lady of Good Counsel former parishioners and friends meets in the church at 6 p.m. and welcomes new members from across the archdiocese.
“Our mission eight years ago was to save the church so it would not end up abandoned with for sale signs and a padlock on the front door,” said Barbara Fortier, who leads the church’s Friends group of about 25 members. “It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of prayers and a lot of meetings,” Fortier said. “Archbishop Aymond has been wonderful listening to us.”
To formally reopen the church as a place of worship, Archbishop Aymond will be the principal celebrant of a Mass of Rededication on Jan. 2 at 5:30 p.m.
The church was closed in 2008 when Good Shepherd Parish was created through the post-Katrina merger of St. Stephen, St. Henry and Our Lady of Good Counsel parishes. Our Lady of Good Counsel Church continues to be part of Good Shepherd Parish and to be overseen by its pastor, Msgr. Christopher Nalty, whose worship base is at St. Stephen Church on Napoleon Avenue.
“Thank you for making the decision to make your headquarters (at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church); otherwise we might not be here today,” said Msgr. Nalty, addressing members of the local Catholic charismatic community who will celebrate a final Mass at their original North Rampart Street location on Dec. 27.
Msgr. Nalty added: “Welcome to the neighborhood!”