Seminary professor studies churches impacted by Katrina

This story appears in the The Field Hospital feature series. View the full series.
A cross hangs on a church steeple in New Orleans, La., in this 2005 file photo (CNS/Steve Pope, EPA)
A cross hangs on a church steeple in New Orleans, La., in this 2005 file photo (CNS/Steve Pope, EPA)

by Peter Feuerherd

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Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …"

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A seminary professor surveys which New Orleans churches survived -- and which ones didn't --  after Hurricane Katrina. One clear finding: it helps to have friends on the outside. 

Msgr. Laurence Edward Higgins, who came from Ireland and founded St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Tampa in 1958, died last week. His death generated big local news. Among the things written about him: "He used his influence with the rich and powerful to help the poor and needy."  

Is offering Mass in Latin a way to buck the trend of fewer Catholics coming to Sunday Mass? So says parish leadership in Norwalk, Conn. 

In Philadelphia and in other dioceses, Sept. 9 is set aside as a day of prayer for peace and reconciliation. It is the feast day of St. Peter Claver, the 17th-century Jesuit who ministered to slaves in Latin America and is the patron of ministry to African-Americans. The commemoration is a response to the series of killings by police and the killing of police officers which have wracked the nation over the past few years. 

A shuttered Catholic church in Detroit gets reborn, after its sale to a church that describes itself as part of an independent Catholic organization. The focus is on neighborhood outreach to the poor. The video tells the story. 

In sunny southern California, a parish from the San Diego diocese goes solar.

[Peter Feuerherd is a correspondent for NCR's Field Hospital series on parish life and a professor of journalism at St. John's University, New York.]

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