Friday, August 21, 2009

Aymond installed as Archbishop of New Orleans

Gregory Aymond Installed as 14th Archbishop of New Orleans
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, a son of Gentilly,
assumed leadership of the Catholic church in Southeast Louisiana on Thursday, pledging to an audience at St. Louis Cathedral "to ask God daily for the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, that I may be a good shepherd to you."

They were among Aymond's first words to the battered regional church of 380,000, delivered a few minutes after he stepped inside the cathedral to receive, first a round of rolling applause - and then long, unexpected and robust cheering from more than 1,000 invited guests.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, handed Aymond his shepherd's staff, the symbol of leadership, about 2:30 p.m., making official the appointment of Aymond, the first native son to head the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

In his first address to New Orleans Catholics, Aymond, 59, did not mention Hurricane Katrina, nor the travails of the church that four years ago suffered the loss of 20 percent of its members and $287 million in wealth.

Rather, he called the church to continuing faithfulness to God. And repeatedly he said God would respond, using variations of his own episcopal motto: "God is Faithful."

In New Orleans, the nation's second oldest archdiocese, "God has been faithful to us for more than 200 years," Aymond said.. "He has acted in our history and he will continue to do so."

As a New Orleanian familiar with local devotions, Aymond ended asking the special help of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the Catholic patroness of the city, and St. Louis King of France, the saint whose memory the cathedral honors.

He offered some lighter moments, though.

"Please be nice to me," he began. "My mother would want that."

Aymond remarked that he now becomes one of four living New Orleans archbishops, dating back to legendary Philip Hannan, who ordained Aymond a priest 34 years ago and who at 96, sat nearby.

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