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Our Lady of Good Counsel renovations honored

The recently completed $3.1 million renovation of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and its former rectory on Louisiana Avenue was recognized May 19 with one of five 2016 “Renovator’s Awards” from the Garden District Association.

Shelley Landrieu, association executive director, said the association appreciates the effort expended on the restoration of the church and rectory to make the properties “a stable asset” that can be enjoyed by the community.

For 15 years, the association has been giving this award to Garden District homeowners and businesses that have invested money in a restoration or enhancement of a property to benefit the Garden District overall. While most award winners are residential, Trinity Episcopal and McGehee School also have been recipients, Landrieu said.

Msgr. Christopher Nalty, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish – of which the Center of Jesus the Lord (CJL) at Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Henry’s and St. Stephen’s churches are a part – was proud to receive the award at the association’s meeting May 19. He gives much credit to Archbishop Gregory Aymond for the renovations and the efforts he has put into Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Extensive work completed
Ryan Gootee General Contractors, LLC, and noted rehabilitation architects Koch and Wilson began working on the restoration of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and rectory in January 2015 to ready it for the Center of Jesus the Lord, a Catholic charismatic group, that was moving from its longtime home at the former Carmelite monastery on North Rampart.

The church received new mechanical and electrical systems, a new sound system and two new bathrooms (one for clergy and another for the congregation). It also got a new roof with architectural shingles, exterior waterproofing and rewiring of original light fixtures that were appointed with LED lights for efficiency, said Connie Kramer, architect, Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Painting and plaster work also were completed throughout, and the church was brought up to building codes and made ADA-accessible for those with disabilities with the installation of handicapped ramps. Asbestos floor tiles were removed, and the wood floor underneath was patched, shored, sanded and refinished, Kramer said. Restoration of stained glass and the Stations of the Cross also was completed.

Other church improvements included a resurfaced parking lot and installation of new landscaping around the perimeter to comply with City Planning Commission requirements.

The rectory building also was brought up to code, and asbestos abatement was completed. New handicapped-accessible bathrooms, all new siding, air conditioning and electrical work, and flooring on the first floor were installed, as was an exterior fire escape and a new roof, Kramer said. The rectory also was outfitted with a commercial kitchen to accommodate the Center of Jesus the Lord at Our Lady of Good Counsel’s ministry that feeds the homeless.

New home for center
The Center of Jesus the Lord moved to its new home in the former Our Lady of Good Counsel rectory once renovations were completed in October 2015. Its first official Mass was celebrated Jan. 2, 2016, said Joe Polito, who is on the governing board for Center of Jesus the Lord at Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Polito said the charismatic group shares the church with Friends of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Members of the center and the friends are on a joint building committee that advises Msgr. Christopher Nalty on decisions concerning church maintenance.

Center of Jesus the Lord at Our Lady of Good Counsel has its office on the first floor of the former parish rectory and is responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, and just recently replaced the flooring on the rectory’s second floor to accommodate Father Denzil Perrera and Oblate Father George Roy, center chaplain, who are in residence.

The transition went smoothly when Center of Jesus the Lord moved from its former home on the edge of the French Quarter, Polito said. Maintenance costs on the historic building were becoming too burdensome for the center. Money from the sale of the former building went into the renovations of Our Lady of Good Counsel’s historic church and rectory.

“We are happy being there,” he said about the relocation to Good Counsel. “The rectory accommodates all of our needs. The office space is wonderful. We have everything that we would want to conduct business.”

Currently, Center of Jesus the Lord at Our Lady of Good Counsel, 1307 Louisiana Ave., celebrates a charismatic Mass and a children’s liturgy on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.; has a Mass on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.; and eucharistic adoration followed by praise and worship and Mass every first Friday of the month at 7 p.m. After every Mass, Center of Jesus the Lord at Good Counsel has healing prayers.

The Friends of Our Lady of Good Counsel recites the rosary on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and is responsible for Our Lady of Good Counsel’s feast day Mass and Christmas concert.

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