In January, 2003, a delegation from New Orleans attended the Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) Meeting in San Bernadino, CA, with a petition signed by a group of interested persons, requesting the then Melkite Diocesan Eparch, Bishop John Elya, to send a priest to N.O.
After consultation with Archimandrite Frank Milienewicz, the Protopresbyter of the Southern Region, Bishop John contacted Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Azar, Pastor of St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church in Atlanta and directed him to travel to N.O. to study the possibility of establishing a station there.
Fr. John made his first visit in May, 2003 and celebrated the first Melkite Divine Liturgy at Holy Name of Jesus Roman Catholic Church on the campus of Loyola University. Approximately 75 persons attended the Liturgy. A social followed in the Parish Center.
Subsequently, he met with a group and gave them the title of “Organizing Committee”. Approved by both Bishop John Elya and Bishop Nicholas Samra, the approved policies of establishing “Missions” was shared with the Committee.
The official title at present is “The Melkite Greek Catholic Community of New Orleans”. The Bishops and Clergy referred to it as “the daughter community of Atlanta” with St. John Chrysostom Church being their “mother church”.
A Chairperson was elected, a Treasurer was appointed, Ministry Sub Committees of “Liturgical Services”, “Outreach”, “Publicity” and “Historian” were formed.
Since then, Fr. John has traveled on a monthly basis to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, to be the guest at religious education dinners, attending interfaith gatherings, affording spiritual literature for Middle Eastern detainees, Community meetings, blessing of homes and providing Lenten services, etc.
The Jesuit Community has graciously offered the generous use of their parish church and center as well as sleeping accommodations for the visiting Melkite priest.
In its brief fledgling beginning, the Community courageously accepted the hosting of the weekend meetings of the DPC, in October, 2003 in which the Bishops, Clergy and Lay Representatives from the Melkite Parishes around the country participated.
On May 16, 2004, a One Year Anniversary was celebrated in Bobet Hall Chapel on Loyola University campus, followed by a Luncheon in the Parish Center prepared by the Organizing Committee.
Special invitations were received from the Syrian-Lebanese American Clubs to celebrate the Melkite Liturgy for their National Convention in N.O. in July, 2004 and from the Rosary Congress of New Orleans on October 4, 2004.
The compilation of names, e-mail and postal addresses of interested persons is in progress.
Formerly, the Liturgy was celebrated in English and Arabic on publicized Saturdays at 11:00 am at:
Holy Name of Jesus Roman Catholic Church
6363 St. Charles Avenue at Audubon Park
New Orleans, LA 70118
Since Hurricane Katrina, because the community was disbursed, the project has been on hold. Hopes were held that this could have developed into a full-fledged “Mission” and gradually become an official parish.
For further information or if you would like to receive news of the Melkite Community’s events, please contact:
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Azar
404-373-9522 or firstname.lastname@example.org