Last week my parents visited New Orleans. My dad judged the city by it's plentiful potholes and dilapidated houses, some of which clearly haven't been touched since Katrina. My mom loved the beautiful live oak trees and the little boys dancing in the Second Line on Sunday. I think she was better able to see the magic of New Orleans, although neither of them was truly taken by it. They like the clean streets of DC better and they couldn't live anywhere else.
Even though New Orleans is a city made for tourists, I had a hard time thinking of things to do with my parents. It didn't help that the two of them arrived during the last dying hot days of summer. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't gone through a summer here how hot and humid and oppressive it can be.
My mom wasn't into walking tours, or swamp tours, but the one thing she did want to do was go to church on Sunday. Specifically, she wanted to go to a Catholic church. She's been a devout Catholic all her life. She's the kind of person who doesn't just go to Church on a Sunday, but a Tuesday and Wednesday too.
New Orleans is a city founded on Catholicism, so there's plenty of Catholic churches here, but I chose to take her to St. Augustine Church in Treme, one of the most historic churches around, in what is the oldest black neighborhood in America. She was enamored by the experience. People reached out and held hands across the aisle and the choir sang their hearts out through the whole service. In the middle of it all, she turned to me and said, "I'm so glad you brought me here."
At the end of service I bumped into Father Emmanuel Mulenga. He's one of the main priests at St. Augustine and I filmed him last year for a Kickstarter video for the 1st annual Treme Festival.
Father Mulenga told me he had been thinking of contacting me because next Sunday's mass was going to be the 175th Anniversary Mass and wanted to ask me to document it, but he had lost my contact information--and there I was. "God is great," he said. I believed him.
I showed up with my camera in hand the following Sunday, and it was a packed service. All of St. Augustine's members were there in support of the church along with politicians, school board members, the archbishop--a who's who of New Orleans. Here are 3 of the best photos I captured that day: