People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Si tu savais le don de Dieu

Posted by schroeder915 on March 3, 2006

Since it’s been decided that the historic 1841 St. Augustine Church in the Treme will be closed, I thought I heard somewhere that Charmaine Neville would be performing there Sunday at 11:00 AM 10:00 AM.

Can anyone confirm this? I have confirmed this (see update below).

St. Augustine Church was “the only parish in the United States whose free people of color bought two outer rows of pews exclusively for slaves to use for worship,” according to the Clarion Herald.

The LA Times noted that the church needs $1 million in repairs, and greater attendance — or at least more weddings and other ceremonies.

I’d think all sorts of people would flock to the church for weddings if it were promoted more as a crucible of spirituals, blues, and jazz.

It’s a lack of creative vision that has Archbishop Hughes and Walter Maestri stubbornly holding fast to a decision rather than work with the community to find a solution. Bruce Nolan in The Times-Picayune:

Sandra Gordon, a retired school system employee who serves on St. Augustine’s parish council, said its members have been meeting every other week and had drawn up a plan to revitalize the parish. They hoped to start programs in computer training and nutrition, a historical archive and a jazz apprenticeship, Gordon said.

She said the church’s congregation had grown since Katrina. “With new people and help from donors, I believe we could make it,” she said.

Gordon said LeDoux told them they had until about mid-summer to finish their work. They were going to submit their proposal Friday, when the archdiocese shocked them with its announcement.

But Maestri said Monday the plan was always scheduled to be finished in January or February. …

Maestri said that despite the church’s heritage, in recent years the vitality had drained away from St. Augustine. Fewer marriages and funerals were occurring there, and less education of children and adults in the Catholic faith.

A Bruce Nolan Times-Picayune article features the translation for the french title to this post. It’s a gold-leaf inscription over the marble altar: “If you knew the gift of God.”

Here’s the St. Augustine Web site.

3/03/2006 update: I called St. Augustine this afternoon and learned that the Charmaine Neville performance will be this Sunday at 10:00 AM. I was also told that St. Augustine parishioners are appealing and continue to negotiate for a solution with the diocese that will allow the church to remain open. There is also a petition circulating to keep the church open, and a membership drive to ensure it has the numbers it needs to survive in the future.

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4 Responses to “Si tu savais le don de Dieu”

  1. Steve said

    That really sucks man!!
    I hate it that the African American Catholic Community stays away from becoming part of the Knights Of columbus, because if they actually had a KofC council, they’d have a powerful tool in fighting this closing. I know the Knights do a lot of Pro-Life stuff that alot of people dislike, but they also do a lot of good, and something like this is right up their alley.
    They still would probably help with the fight, but they’d be more inclined to do so if the church had a Knights council.

  2. Mr. Clio said

    I’m totally for keeping St. Augustine open, but did you see the T-P’s article on the pastor’s appearance at the City Council mtg. yesterday?

    More reason why that whole crew needs to go, except Oliver Thomas. Cynthia Willard Lewis is unbearable.

  3. velvet_rut said

    i think that it’s time to call the pope.

    the pope should be into rehabbing this crucible of faith… that it’s funky only helps . jesus christ. somebody go spot some madonnas in the mold patterns.

  4. Schroeder said

    Hey, velvet_rut, that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Thanks for the comedic relief. Shit, what a great way to turn tragedy into profit. I’m surprised Benny Hinn hasn’t figured out that angle yet.

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