Archdiocese to close St. Theresa of Avila and divide the parish

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Infrogmation of New Orleans

St. Theresa of Avila Church at Erato and Coliseum streets in 2019.

The 175-year-old St. Theresa of Avila will be shuttered in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ reorganization plan announced Sunday (Oct. 29). The St. Theresa parish will be absorbed by two nearby parishes, St. Patrick on Camp Street in the Warehouse District and St. Alphonsus on Constance Street.

In a message to local Catholics, Archbishop Gregory Aymond cited the combined financial pressure of the Covid pandemic, Hurricane Ida recovery, inflation and sky-rocketing property insurance rates as the impetus for the year-long parish pastoral planning that ended in closing or consolidating more than 10% of the archiocese’s 111 parishes.

The archdiocese is also currently working its way through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, filed in 2020, amid mounting child sexual abuse claims.

The mergers will be effective beginning on July 1, 2024.

Infrogmation of New Orleans

The santuary at St. Theresa of Avila.

St. Theresa of Avila was targeted because of a low number of parishioners and large financial losses, according to the archdiocese.

When the Sisters of Charity opened St. Theresa of Avila in 1848, it was one of the first 10 Catholic parishes in New Orleans. The parish marked its 175th anniversary on Oct. 14.

It served the area’s Irish and German community during the 1800s and much of the 1900s. As the area’s demographics changed, the parish reached out to the Hispanic community. Mass has been celebrated in Spanish at the church since 1969.

“It’s been a beacon of light to the Spanish speaking community for decades,” Martxelo Orellana Etxeberria commented on Facebook. Parishioner Juanita Fino stated: “My heart is broken and spirits diminished finding out today that it will close.”

Parishioners of the church at 1404 Erato St. endured yellow fever and the Civil War in its first 50 years. More recently, the parish has been battered by a worldwide pandemic, debt, a changing neighborhood and increasingly intense hurricanes.

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