Center of Jesus to move to Our Lady of Good Counsel Church
Archbishop Gregory Aymond called the decision a double blessing.
Faced with massive renovation costs at its current Rampart Street location, the Center of Jesus the Lord, a Catholic charismatic community, will move into Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and rectory, which had been closed by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a reduction of worship sites under a post-Katrina strategic plan.
Archbishop Aymond formally announced his decision to warm applause Dec. 11 before a Christmas concert held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church.
While he made it clear that Our Lady of Good Counsel would not reopen “as a parish” – “because I don’t think I should go against the pastoral plan” – Archbishop Aymond said the church would come back to life “as a shrine” that will house the charismatic renewal community.
Under the plan, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church will undergo modest renovations and then serve as the site for the Sunday morning Mass for the charismatic community. The Center of Jesus the Lord also celebrates two other Masses during the week.
Our Lady of Good Counsel has been open on Wednesday nights since July 2010 for people to gather to recite the rosary.
“Our prayers have been answered,” said Barbara Fortier, a former parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel. “We’ve been praying for a solution to this situation. We’ve been praying to have a dialogue, and Archbishop Aymond truly has opened his heart and wanted to work with us to come to some kind of resolution. Everyone is very, very happy with it. It’s a good day for all of us.”
Under the post-Katrina strategic plan, Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Henry and St. Stephen parishes closed and then merged as one parish, worshipping at St. Stephen Church, under the new name, Good Shepherd Parish.
Because St. Henry and Our Lady of Good Counsel were closed as worship sites, parishioners of both former parishes held vocal protests and occupied the churches for several weeks. The protests came to an end when police removed the protestors.
Pain from the past
Referencing the controversy, Archbishop Aymond said he had worked over the last 2 1/2 years “to try to come to a better understanding of that pain and what the options were.”
“I think it would be unjust not to realize that what has brought this about is also in the shadows of some real pain for a lot of people,” he said.
Archbishop Aymond estimated it would have cost at least $1 million to repair the Center of Jesus the Lord, the former monastery of the Discalced Carmelites. By moving to the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and rectory, the center will have fewer expenses and a better physical plant.
Father Lance Campo will continue to serve as the director of the center and may reside at the rectory, but that is yet to be determined. Msgr. Christopher Nalty will continue as pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, the archbishop said. Our Lady of Good Counsel Church also will be available for weddings and funerals.
St. Henry discussions
The archbishop said he is continuing to have conversations with former parishioners of St. Henry.
“We’re still moving forward and don’t have concrete plans yet, but we hope to be able to do that in the next couple of months,” he said.