Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Pray for New Orleans... Twice

As veteran readers will recall, history was made in the Crescent City over the summer, when New Orleans became the first known local church to boast four living archbishops (above).

The latest of the bunch and the first native son ever to hold the post, Archbishop Greg Aymond noted "the big question" at his raucous August installation (fullvideo) -- "Who's really in charge?" -- before declining to answer it.

As the crowd roared, the line was taken as an affectionate nod to the eldest of the group, Philip Hannan (1965-88), revered all-around as NOLA's "first citizen," whose continuing plate of interviews, Masses, media ministry and the like has, at 96, kept him busier than most active clerics.

In recent days, both Hannan and his successor, 82 year-old Archbishop Francis Schulte (1988-2002), have experienced setbacks of health... and local media had to note that Hannan -- who had been scheduled to celebrate an outdoor Mass on All Saints' Day -- wasn't yet up for visitors:
Hannan was twice hospitalized in St. Tammany Parish last week with low blood pressure and a series of mini-strokes, spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey said. However, he is at his home in Covington now, "eating well and walking on his own."

Companions remain in residence with him to monitor his well-being, she said.

Meanwhile, Schulte, who after Hurricane Katrina began spending more and more time in his native Philadelphia, recently suffered two falls there and is resting at an assisted-living facility there.
Whether it's the water or the city's famous cooking, NOLA's prelates have long shown a knack for length of days; the last Crescent City archbishop to depart for the Quarter in the Sky was the legendary Joseph Francis Rummel, who served from 1935 until his 1964 passing at age 88. (The retirement age of 75 for bishops was instituted in 1966.)

Prayers have been asked for both ailing archbishops... and as Schulte always asks of his River City crew, "Pray for Mother New Orleans."

Frank J. Methe/Clarion Herald