At the request of some of its parishioners, I visited St. Francis de Sales Church in Central City recently. This 1870 wood frame church in Central City with a plain exterior and elegantly simple interior is scheduled for closing by the New Orleans Archdiocese. Despite of this threat, the members were seeking advice on repairing the structure, and on resources the National Trust for Historic Preservation could offer.
A locally designated landmark, the church was placed on the Louisiana Landmarks Society's "New Orleans Nine" list this year to call attention to its endangered status. This is one of 33 Catholic churches in New Orleans which are scheduled for closure and incorporation into other neighboring parishes. The archdiocese says some closures are due to the loss of 20 percent of the Catholic population post-Katrina. A shortage of priests adds to the problem. Some local congregations, taking their cue from resistance efforts in Boston, are contemplating day and night occupation of their churches to prevent being locked out.
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