Squandered Heritage Vintage
 

Cabrini Church

Todays Times Picayune

David Gregor took these photos on Nov. 20,2006

Haunting

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This looks like an ancient ruin

David Gregor Photo Cabrini Church

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use for Squandered Heritage. For her work with television reporter Lee Zurik exposing widespread misuse of city recovery funds — which led to guilty pleas in federal court — Gadbois won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • Sherry LeBlanc

    didn’t the convent burn on Mirabeau? That land (a considerable amount of land too I might add) belongs to the church too doesn’t it? How do they plan to use that? It’s obvious that since they’re doing the destruction in secret they know they’ve a fight on their hands. Let me know what – if anything – I can do. If my memory serves me, the church cost $3 million in late 1950’s early 1960’s money. What would that be today? Are they also going to remove the school? I could scream!

  • Holy Cross plans to build a School there.

    You can view the plans at the Gentilly Civic Association Website.

    http://www.gcia.us/

    Also look at the right hand side of this site, there is more information listed under the Pages heading

    Thanks for commenting

  • randall fox

    karen bad news, did you read the article from the times picayune. they support the demolition in every aspect and make people who want to preserve the church look evil. even patrica gay supports the demolition of the church but i dont think she has seen it in person. that is real bad news and so many people seem to be against us. hopefully the decision that is made will be correct one. only time will tell.

  • If the Church needs to be demolished I hope that the legacy will be better communications about future redevelopment plans.
    It would be a shame to have to go through this everytime.

    No gazebo is worth losing this Architectural marvel for.

  • Laureen

    How can we discard the brilliance of this design so easily? And the numbers touted at the press conference were so inflated. Patty Gay has to go for a political balance, we do not have a board to answer to. I understand her position, which is why I like operating on this level. I feel so bad for the incivility assessed against the supporters who are so sincere and are gentle people who do see compromise. They have, up to this point, not advertised the money being exchanged at the higher level. They are trying be respectful, but they are going to be forced to expose some ugly facts now. I couldn’t stand it today at the press conference. I had to leave. It was unchristian in every way.

  • Deep

    Don’t beleive everything you read in the paper! PRC tells me that Patty Gay’s comments were taken out of context. Anyway, it doens’t matter if the church is deemed “historic.” The building is SIGNIFICANT on many levels, just as Patty said, which alone is enough reason for saving the building. The meaning of the term “historic” is so bastardized and misunderstood that it has almost become an irrevelent term. The building is Nationally significant because the engineer of the church was also the engineer for the World Trade Center in NYC. Wouldn’t it serve as a tremendous monument to the victims of both the WTC & Katrina?!?!?!

    Regarding Holy Cross & the AD of NOLA, do they think they are beyond the Section 106 process? ANYONE that wants to use federal money to demolish a building 40 years old or older must go through the Section 106 process. This isn’t an invasion of their property rights! Go ahead, Maestri, take this to the courts! We’re doing our homework and I bank that once again the courts will uphold the process!

  • randall fox

    that news reporter from channel nine said the interior of the church was so damaged and the church was “destroyed” . the photos inside do not look the church has been destroyed, no large church in new orleans was “destroyed”. if channel nine wants to see a destroyed lage church i have a great place they can go: the Mississippi Gulf coast.

  • randall fox

    Some may just call it a church; even perhaps an eyesore. That’s where they are wrong. People were married here; people were buried here. The very fact that it is a church, a holy place of worship, should hamper these dreadful plans. Even if they are not Christian surly something sparked in their heads about the destroying of somewhere sacred to another. This magnificent structure where someone laid the the stain glass with their two hands, nailed the frame together, spent countless hours devoted to the rising of it ( and probably their tribute to Saint Cabrini) would hate to see it be demolished. St. Cabrini was a wonderful caring women and patron saint of immigrants. She is the one who is watching over those returning to our beloved New Orleans. It is said that what you build with two hands you can destroy with one. This should not be the case of Cabrini Church. Just remember all who side with my feelings “The future depends on what we do in the present” -Ghandi.

  • Laureen

    I guess Ghandi wasn’t just interested in property values, huh Randall. Nice piece, I love it.

  • david villarrubia

    On this Thanksgiving Day, I want to thank everyone out there who understands the importance of St. Frances Cabrini Church as a house of worship, and as a Church built by the people. Thank you for the spirit of strong support you have demonstrated through these last few weeks.
    The craziness during the press conference reminds me of the craziness of the mob who met with Pilate and WANTED the Crucifixion, at all costs, even while the Romans considered it too hot to handle…it was the people who made the final decision, without reason or logic, as they are here, by pressuring the politicians for a demolition in spite of not being informed. Only my impression, for whatever its’ worth.

    Thank you again.

  • Robert Schoen

    I attended the Historic District Landmark Commission’s meeting in which the Cabrini Church was unanimously nominated for Landmark status, and was profoundly moved by the heartfelt testimonies of parishioners whose lives centered around the church and the many local architects who attested to the remarkable quality and beauty of its award winning design. One of the Commission members sadly noted that no one from the Archdiocese or Holy Cross was in attendance, because they would have heard from the Cabrini parishioners how the Archdiocese never clearly presented the facts to the Cabrini parishioners that accepting Holy Cross would mean the destruction of their own church.

    Instead of characterizing the HDLC and Cabrini parishioners actions to save the church as a belated ploy to ruin the Holy Cross move, I believe the Archdiocese exploited the circumstances of Katrina to keep Cabrini parishioners out of the loop and deliberately rushed the demolition of what they deemed to be a white elephant, so that it would go under the radar before FEMA, the Cabrini parishioners, or the HDLC could become aware of it and prevent it from happening. Clearly FEMA’s investigation and decision to stop the demolition was predicated on the fact that the Archdiocese and Holy Cross were not acting above board in this matter.

    By not taking a proper vote of the Cabrini partishioners to close and ultimately demolish their church, the Archdiocese clearly violated Canonical law regarding the dispersal of a parish and its church. This violation of proceedure has already been challenged, and the Vatican may have the final say in the future of St. Frances Cabrini Church.

    Unmentioned in all of this is the reputed four million dollar insurance payout made to the Cabrini Church after Katrina. With the church gone, the Archdiocese would presumably keep this money to cover its many underinsured properties, while selling Holy Cross the land surrounding Cabrini for a million dollars. It is reprehensible that the Archdiocese chose to pit one community against another, instead of insisting that any plans for the new Holy Cross must incorporate the architecturally important Cabrini Church.

    The reported comments by the well-placed Holy Cross alumnus Clancy DuBois, that the landmark nominated Cabrini church would not fit into the pseudo eighteenth century styling of the newly planned Holy Cross campus is also disturbingly revealing. It is the height of hippocracy that Holy Cross would want to replicate their own history while tearing down that of the parish they are attempting to move into, a church that is dedicated to the city’s most renowned and compassionate local Saint. In my judgment that is neither Catholic nor a decent way to begin anew in someone else’s community.

    Only years ago HolyCross needed to hold its ring ceremony in Cabrini Church because it lacked a sufficiently large auditorium. The church can be a tremendous asset to their new campus instead of a liability. To exploit the longings of the Gentilly community to rebuild, by threatening to move out if the Archdiocese and Holy Cross don’t get their unreasonable way without compromise on this matter is the worst type of institutional abuse and arrogance to come out of Katrina so far. If Holy Cross wants the Paris Avenue location, let them show the proper respect for the neighborhood they are attempting to move into by restoring and embracing its most important community anchor.

  • Shirley Muhleisen

    Was it legal for the demolishing company to begin demolition of the Church
    before the Act of Sale? Also, what money and who supplied it to do this
    terrible act. My soul is sorrowful when, at this wonderful and joyful time
    of year, I must mourn what has already been done to our beautiful
    Church. Shirley Muhleisen

  • Robert Schoen

    Ever since FEMA’s decision to halt St. Frances Cabrini Church’s demolition, Father William Maestri, the superintendent of Archdiocese schools who was previously tightlipped about plans to tear down the Paris Avenue church, began a media blitz of interviews in which he labeled Cabrini supporters as “obstructionists.” At a rally in front of the church after FEMA’s ruling, angry Holy Cross proponents almost came to blows with architect Stephen Verderber and other Cabrini parishioners who sought a compromise to preserve their beloved church.

    All of this bad will could have been avoided if Maestri and the Archdiocese had been more forthcoming with Cabrini parishioners in the first place and adhered to its own canonical law. For months it has been inaccurately reported that Cabrini parishioners voted to dismantle the church when in fact only a fraction of the parishioners accepted the Holy Cross proposal at a poorly attended town meeting. The truth is the Archdiocese had already decided that Cabrini was a burdensome white elephant and never gave its parishioners the option to vote on the saving their church. Boston’s Council of Parishes, which has successfully challenged many similar unlawful church closings, is now assisting Cabrini parishioners in seeking oversight from the Vatican of the plans to tear down their church without a suppression decree.

    At the Historic District Landmark Commission’s meeting in which the Cabrini Church was unanimously nominated for Landmark status, there were many heartfelt testimonies of parishioners whose lives centered around the church and the many local architects who attested to the remarkable beauty of its award winning design. Cabrini was built with quality materials and craftsmanship that would be nearly impossible to afford today. The twenty five million dollars budgeted for the new Holy Cross campus would barely approach the cost of replicating it. It is unbelievable that Maestri and the Archdiocese are revisiting the great folly of tearing down the Rivergate, another modern architecture masterpiece now lost forever to bad politics. Not only have they made a terrible decision, but they lack the humility and good sense to admit they are wrong.

    It is a fair question to ask why the Archdiocese and Holy Cross are so insistent that this important community anchor and landmark be destroyed. Surely if Holy Cross moves into Gentilly the parish will have more need than ever for the large church. According to Holy Cross alumnus Clancy DuBois, the modern Cabrini Church wouldn’t fit into the pseudo eighteenth century styling of the newly planned campus, which calls for a gazebo where the church currently stands. To many, it seems to be the height of hypocrisy that Holy Cross is attempting to replicate their own ninth ward architectural history while tearing down that of the parish they are attempting to move into, a church dedicated to the city’s most renowned and compassionate local Saint. How can this possibly be a Catholic or decent way to begin anew in someone else’s community?

    Only years ago Holy Cross needed to hold its ring ceremony in Cabrini Church because it lacked a sufficiently large auditorium, thus proving the church can serve as a tremendous asset to their new campus instead of a liability. While the architectural brilliance of the church can only be fully appreciated from within its boldly vaulted stained glassed interior, it was intentionally designed with a low brick exterior so as to visually blend into its modest Gentilly neighborhood. It is hard to see how this understated architectural gem can pose a serious aesthetic threat to the planned retro-styled brick campus, which on paper more closely resembles an upscale modern day strip mall.

    Unmentioned so far in this debate is the reputed four million dollar insurance payout made to the Cabrini Church after Katrina. With the church slated for demolition, the Archdiocese would presumably keep this money to cover its many underinsured properties, after realizing a profit of one million dollars from the sale of the land surrounding Cabrini to Holy Cross.

    If a Louisiana politician had forged the same type of sweetheart deal that resulted in the destruction of a irreplaceable landmark church, a disenfranchised parish, and the pocketing of an earmarked insurance settlement, then had the audacity to ask for federal tax dollars to pay for it all, this would instantly draw national headlines as the worst type of post- Katrina institutional abuse imaginable. By stubbornly insisting on getting its way without compromise, the Archdiocese and Holy Cross are exploiting the desperation of the Gentilly community longing to revitalize their neighborhood by threatening to pull out the Holy Cross campus if the church is allowed to stay. If Holy Cross wants the Paris Avenue location, let them demonstrate the proper respect for the neighborhood they are attempting to move into by embracing its most important and long established community anchor.

  • Puddinhead

    You guys are just so far off base with this one, on so many levels. But go ahead…see “hidden conspiracies” and “secret sweetheart deals” where you want to see them…and let an architect who’s told the neighborhood associations (personally) that support the project as is that they are just “too uneducated to understand the significance of the building” as he does that the box with the half-drums on top is an irreplaceable New Orleans landmark. It was designed before Vatican II despite what Arthur Q. Davis (who must be having a little selective memory issue) says because the dates on an AIA Design award given the church predates the beginning of the Vatican II meetings that supposedly inspired it. Incidentally, the same AIA Design Merit Award was issued to another New Orleans structure two years before SFC–the Pontchartrain Beach bus stop. So I guess there’s some architectural equivalence for you right there.

    As for the “angry Holy Cross proponents”…they consisted of representatives of 14 neighborhood associations covering the SFC parish and surrounding area, the president of the Gentilly Civic Improvement Association, several City Council members, etc., all of whom worked very hard to convince HC that this site was the right place for it’s next 100 years. There were a handful of HC students there; I know, because my two sons were two of them, and they were interviewed by just about every reporter there because they were the only ones there who could be said to be “representing” the school, rather than the neighborhood surrounding the church building. Dr. Verberder had a couple of his architecture students (one of whom threatened my 16-year-old who had the audacity to “have an opinion” about matters “better left to adults”…like this student who was likely four years older at most) and four former parishioners of SFC parish. My understanding is that not even all four were members or lived in the parish at the time of the flood…they’d already left the neighborhood, but felt the need to come back to tell those who still live there what they can do with it.

    I could go on about how open the plans have been for the demolition of the present building should HC select the Cabrini/Redeemer-Seton site since the beginning…about the former SFC parish deacon and the former parish secretary attesting at the St. Pius meeting (I was there….there were easily over a hundred in attendance–probably close to the same turnout for Masses just before Katrina) to the amount of money the parish had been hemorhaging on church building maintenance for years. It wasn’t any representative of the Archdiocese or HC that pronounced the building a “money pit” at that meeting…it was the SFC parish secretary. But none of these arguments will sway anyone whose mind is already made up–“evil Archdiocese” and “gallant preservationist architect” has already been ordained in the blogosphere.

  • Robert Schoen

    Puddinhead,

    So many paragraphs and yet you have not addressed one single issue raised in
    my rather detailed post. No one’s talking conspiracies, just underhanded and
    autocratic church policies that will be ultimately be reviewed and hopefully
    reversed by the Vatican. What about the $4,000,000 insurance payout on SFC,
    more than double the amount needed to correct the long deferred maintenance
    needs of Cabrini, being pocketed by the Archdiocese in this sweetheart deal?
    Is that above board? It is a very real possibility that Holy Cross might
    lose a great deal, if not all, of the federal aid to rebuild because of the
    shoddy way this deal was worked.

    I find it interesting that as a Holy Cross parent you attended the Pius X
    meeting for Cabrini parishioners to vote on the Holy Cross deal. How many
    other Holy Cross people were there to cast their vote on Cabrini’s fate as
    well? Holy Cross arranged for the taking out and breaking of the $300,000
    altar, pulpit and other items. I hope you don’t mind a tuition hike when
    your school has to pay to replace these items and pews when the church is
    reinstated.

    Also you fail to address my point about the hypocrisy of Holy Cross trying
    to replicate its old campus while tearing down the architectural landmark
    church of the parish they are moving into. Do you believe in karma, are do
    the Jesuit educated believe they are immune?

    By the way, St. Frances Cabrini’s design clearly does reflect Vatican II,
    and if your researchers were serious instead of legalistic manipulators
    trying to desperately prove against common sense that the church is not
    historic in its layout, they would have discovered that the new guidelines
    for church layout determined DURING Vatican II were posted at least two
    years before its conclusion, and were probably common knowledge to many
    priests who were following the long discussed proposed changes in the
    Catholic press. That’s how Cabrini’s pastor found out about them and
    informed the architect. Otherwise Nat Curtis would have had to have been a
    psychic or religious mystic to have anticipated them so correctly. But don’t
    worry, both FEMA and the HDLC already have this correct information
    necessary to designate the church a historic landmark.

    You should use your real name when you post, Puddinhead, if that is not your
    name. The Archdiocese has a major local public relations firm planting
    stories, spinning facts and riling up Holy Crossers and the people of
    Gentilly on a full time basis. You wouldn’t want others to think you’re a
    paid hack, would you? Isn’t it wonderful to have an Archdiocese that
    actively spreads fear and hatred to get its way, instead of practicing old
    fashioned pre-Vatican II virtues like compromise and respect for the
    sanctity of churches and their parishioners, expecially one dedicated to New
    Orleans most important saint.

    I am very confident St. Frances Cabrini Church will prevail. It’s amazing
    how the truth snowballs and continuously grows bigger, the more it comes to
    light.

  • Puddinhead

    Ah, yes….paragraph by paragraph accusation and allegation.

    Paragraph One….I’m sure you’ve already gone to the District Attorney’s office with the proof of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ theft of more than $2 million dollars from SFC parish. When will the spectacular trial begin? Oh….and The Vatican????? LOL You gonna appeal to His Holiness if FEMA and the legal system don’t come through for you?

    Paragraph Two….I’m accused of dishonestly trying to pass myself off as a SFC parishioner by voting on the fate of the site and buildings. Thanks for the casual character assassination without even knowing who I am, Robert. And one wonders why people don’t always use their real names on internet message boards. Holy Cross would not take possession of the land under the agreement until the Archdiocese had razed all of the buildings and cleared the land; the Archdiocese agreed to sell HC 18 acres of cleared land at that location. But if you prefer to assume HC is sending the asbestos abatement team in and that they (HC) are the ones monetarily responsible for any damage the workers may have done, feel free. As you say, research, my man.

    Paragraph Three….”Architectural landmark” is a phrase that’s been slung around in this debate as though we were talking about the Hagia Sophia here. I mean, having worked for a number of years in a small architectural firm, I can tell you that AIA’s yearly design awards are basically a way for members of the profession to pat each other on the back. Sort of like the Grammys. Will the world be a poorer place if we don’t hear that Outkast hit from a few years back anymore? Maybe…but not by a whole lot. As an example, another structure in New Orleans won an AIA Design Award in 1952–the bus shelter at Pontchartrain Beach. Is SFC more “significant” than the bus shelter? Probably. Sure, it’s an interesting use of structural concrete in the curved roof vaults over a flat roof…sort of Internationalist Style. Not all that practical in a region that can get 50+ of rain in a year, but interesting. Original? Well, for New Orleans, yes. It was a major trend, well, internationally in the 20s and 30s, so there were plenty of examples of the style for Curtis to draw inspiration from. Is it practical? Does it “speak” to anyone of New Orleans? Well…from the wiki on “International style (architecture)”–

    –” One of the strengths of the International Style was that the design solutions were indifferent to location, site, and climate. This was one of the reasons it was called ‘international’; the style made no reference to local history or national vernacular. They were the same buildings around the world. (Later this was identified as one of the style’s primary weaknesses.)”

    Oh….by the way…..no Fathers of the Society of Jesus around any Holy Cross campus. That’s obviously Jesuit you’re thinking of. Once again–research. I was educated (partly) by the Brothers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. To have a deep sense of social justice, by the way. Just so you know. And we did study other world religions, so I can confidently say I feel my “karma” is quite in order, thank you.

    Paragraph Four…my “researchers” are….me, Rock. Just me. Just a Gentilly resident and HC parent and alum. If you want to assure me that when Vatican II convened in October of 1962, that the pastor of SFC at that time was privy enough to what was GOING to be announced as Church policy at the END of Vatican II that he could instruct Nathaniel Curtis in how to design and build the SFC building to meet those tenets and have it open in 1963…..OK, I’ll buy it. Consider me corrected. The church design clearly reflects what the pastor and Curtis felt would be Church doctrine when Vatican II ended in the fall of 1965. As the only Catholic church building ever designed based on the tenets of Vatican II, it clearly qualifies as a historic landmark. What? It’s not the only church to reflect Vatican II? You mean it’s only one of many? Well….it’s still the only church that Nat Curtis ever designed to reflect Vatican II….that’s located in Gentilly…on Paris Avenue. That’s got to mean it’s historic, right?

    Paragraph Five….we already went through the “real name” issue earlier. You start out accusing me of dishonesty in the voting (when Fr. Jacques clearly asked all Holy Cross board members, supporters, or anyone else who was not a SFC parishioner to leave the building before the parishioners, of which I’d estimate a hundred or so were present, would begin to actually discuss whether or not they wanted to accept or refuse the HC offer) and later hint that I’m employed by some nefarious public relations firm that must be spreading misinformation all over Gentilly and SFC parish (otherwise why would so many people in the parish and the neighborhood think the demolition of the building is a worthy price to pay for the total project? It certainly can’t be because they’ve considered all of the facts and made what they feel is a rational decision–because it doesn’t fit into what you want, does it, Robert?) as a “paid hack”. Frankly, Robert, you’re coming across as just the kind of slightly unstable Internet presence I warn my kids about. I didn’t accuse you or anyone else on the “save the building” side of being anything other than on what I feel is the wrong side of an argument. Why am I assumed to be dishonest because I disagree?

  • Apollinaire’s Friends

    Hiya David- love from Degas, Cocteau and PPicasso

  • Robert Schoen

    Puddinhead,
    Once again, if you’re not courageous or honest enough to sign your own name to a post directed to someone you have directly written twice to online, there is only so much credibility you can ask of others. I do note once again that in your second lengthy post to me you fail to address any of the pertinent issues raised in my original post.

    The information you just provided on the Cabrini parishioners meeting is most helpful, in light of several parishioner eye witnesses who were also there and who greatly contradict your report on the numbers present. I also appreciate your confirmation there were no safeguards to prevent nonparishioners from voting except their willingness (or lack thereof) to abide by an honor code.

    I feel compassion for you because you seem motivated to defend the Archdiocese out of fear. I will only say that had the Archdiocese and Holy Cross succeeded in tearing down Cabrini as planned, they would have violated FEMA’s 106 code review and would have therefore been ineligible for the 20 million tax dollars needed to rebuild. Just the violent way they ripped out the stained glass, altar, pulpit, and other custom made furnishings might constitute such a violation. In that light, the Holy Cross community should be eternally grateful to the HDLC, FEMA and Friends of Cabrini for sparing the Archdiocese and Holy Cross the complete disaster of their illicit plot to tear down the church in violation of clearly stated laws and guidelines. As the details of how this unethical usurping of Cabrini parishioners authority to determine the destiny of their own church come to light, and I assure you they will, I am confident Holy Cross will take the enlightened route of embracing and preserving this important church.

    Soon you and everyone else will realize that since the initial plan failed to tear down Cabrini before a serious study or debate could be made, it will no longer happen. Holy Cross has already stipulated in the purchase agreement it is willing to give Cabrini parish two acres to build a new church. But guess what? St. Frances Cabrini already sits on two acres, so why should it be torn down to build another? Did you know the cost of demolition would be almost $700,000, and that they wanted to hand the bill to FEMA? After the events of today and those in the upcoming weeks, it is highly doubtful the church will ever come down.

    I invite you personally, Puddinhead, to join the more enlightened participants of this issue and embrace Cabrini, which will be a shining asset to Holy Cross in its continued role as the spiritual center of Gentilly. Cabrini has and always will belong to its parishioners, not the Archdiocese. We welcome you into our neighborhood and hope you will begin to act as a good neighbor.

  • randall fox

    Will you two stop fighting. Grow up and act your own age. It’s not mature to fight when 15 years olds like me are reading. on another note, I go to Jesuit and we do not have most the things that holy cross wants to have, does holy cross really need a gazebo?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sure fake nineteenth century architecture would look better in a neighborhood built in the fifties and sixties than an actual landmark built during the same time as the neighborhood (sarcasm). As far as everything else im not sure; I have not been as involved in this event as other things.

  • Sheryl LeBlanc

    Your approach – not saying your right or wrong – will turn people off simply by the manner in which you deliver. There are other places for HC to build (or rebuild). What will be done with the land that the old school is now sitting on? Why is Kenner no longer acceptable? Why can’t they use the big plot on Mirabeau where the old convent stood (until it burned)? What impact will the traffic around a high school create in an otherwise residential area? Emotional issues create emotional responses. There is so much half truth and inuendo floating around that it’s really hard to know exactly what is going on. Why do we always resort to name calling and being rude? What parish will serve St. Frances if/when the church is gone?

  • Robert Schoen

    There has been way too much rancor and setting people against each other in this debate. I certainly don’t want to be a part of that and have aimed my post to giving out little known vital information instead of the smokescreen of disinformation and spin that others tend to regurgitate. Unfortunately Father Maestri and the Archdiocese, people who should stand for spiritual leadership, have instead enlisted a slick pr firm to created a campaign to instill fear in people in Gentilly and Holy Cross that Cabrini supporters are out to kill their plans for development. As a parish, we too had looked to the Archdiocese for leadership, only to discover they plotted to destroy our church and the adjacent school in order to pocket the 8.4 million insurance payouts to spend elsewhere. In bringing these difficult facts to light in order to affect a positive goal, I believe the Friend of Cabrini is dedicated to bring people together for mutual goals and to allay their fears.

    Nobody wants to criticize the church or the Archdiocese. But when you become aware of underhanded tactics aimed at disenfranchising a parish solely for financial gain, it is unsettling to say the least. Robin Brou Hatheway sat next to Archbishop Schulte on a flight shortly after Katrina and asked him about her parish church Cabrini, saying that she saw it sitting in water on the Google earth site. He told her that Cabrini and the adjacent church had the best insurance coverage of the entire Archdiocese. Relieved, Robin then asked, “So our church will be all right?” And Schulte answered back, “It’s all an issue of numbers.”

    I’m a Catholic but live next to a church associated with the Assembly of God ministry, and I have been amazed how mobilized and dedicated this group has been to sending in groups of volunteers from all over the country and world to help out in our city. By contrast, the Archdiocese seems to have been paralyzed by Katrina and very passive in their response to parishioner’s needs. The people of Cabrini would have been very willing to volunteer to clean the church themselves, but were locked out, and the archdiocese kept the pastor and key people close to them instead of outreaching to the parishioners. When Cabrini needed guidance the most, the Archdiocese wasn’t there for them. Instead, they were scheming to co-opt Cabrini Church’s and the adjacent schools’ insurance payout of some 8.4 million dollars to tear down both and use this money elsewhere. This is bad decision making born out of an arrogance that they do not have to answer to anyone. Unfortunately those with this mindset often lack the grace or humility to admit they are wrong.

    I remember growing up in New Orleans in the sixties, before tourism became such a big part of our economy, and the city had planned to build an elevated expressway, similar to the monstrosity that now intersects Esplanade Ave at Claiborne, along the river of the French Quarter, where the Moon Walk is now. The plans were in place and every power group in the city backed it, but then a handful of individuals joined the Louisiana Landmarks Society and argued for the aesthetic future of the city. It was a real David and Goliath battle back then, but thankfully common sense prevailed and the expressway was scrapped. Imagine how the French Quarter and Jackson Square would be today, with a constant stream of noise, pollution and vibrations tearing down the historic buildings there. I’m proud to say my father was a big part of the effort to stop the elevated expressway, and I consider this a similar battle to preserve Gentilly’s architectural heritage that will not in any way delay or adversely effect the Holy Cross project.

    Let’s put aside fear and work toward mutual goals constructively. I look forward to Cabrini parishioners and Holy Cross meeting and working out a plan for the future in which everyone will be satisfied.

  • GiGi Gaubert Burk

    I happened into this website by accident by entering “FEMA Cabrini”. I was very interested in hearing the opponents to the demolition side due to the fact that I cannot even relate. After reading all of the arguements and being very open to valid debate, I still come to the same conclusion. Let me explain…

    My father, the late Lloyd F. Gaubert, who’s home sits at the end of Prentiss on Bancroft, was one of the main, if not the main contributor, to the construction and maintenance of Cabrini Church. He was always so disturbed that after giving so much of his hard earned money to building the church, the design was so contrary to his traditional cathedral concept of what a church should be. Although we were all baptised and attended Mass there as we were raised, my father would always make the comment how hollow and cold the church was and how he missed St. Joseph Cathedral in Thibodaux, where he was raised.

    After we all graduated from St. Frances Cabrini, my family only occaionally, out of convenience of Mass times, attended Cabrini Church. I personally attended Mass shortly before it flooded. There were at most 20 parishioners at Mass as was the case nearly every time I attended Mass there. If the parishioners were not attending and supporting the Church before the storm, then who will be supporting the Church if it is renovated. My father was constantly called for contributions. After the storm but before his untimely death, my father stated “maybe we can finally build a church that the parish will like to attend” and “one good thing that may come out of the storm is the demolition of that ugly thing”. By the way, my father was also a major contributor to PRC and the National Preservationist. He did not believe in throwing things away. He donated our family home on Mendez to the Cabrini Church nuns. He donated the bleachers in the school yard. There were not many that followed his lead in contributions to our parish.

    So you save the church, who is going to pay for the costly maintenance and how depressing to see a renovated EMPTY church! The few large events held there did not support that building’s cost.

    I am hoping to rebuild my home that flooded on Bancroft but I am waiting for the outcome on this issue. It is vital to have the support for the building after it is constructed. Holy Cross will support the church they are asking to build. There investment in my neighborhood is warmly welcomed. I do hope they will build a traditional Catholic Church that so many have longed for. I also hope that it will maintain itself through the entire support of the parish, not just the support of a few.

    I beg those who are preservationist to use their energy and money towards projects that will restore buildings that will help revive communities rather than kill all hope. I do feel that if Holy Cross moves to another site we will be doomed. Our parish is banking on Holy Cross. There is nothing else happening in our neighborhood. Please do not put the nail on our coffin!!! I want to rebuild my home in Cabrini Parish.

    GiGi Gaubert Burk
    5710 Bancroft Drive

  • randall

    Shes right, I hate to admit, nut there are more imprant things than cabrini

  • theFuture

    Demolish the church.

    Secularism is the way of the future.

    Deal with it and quit your bickering over something that is obsolete regardless.

  • ThePast

    Do you mean this church is obsolite? Or are all churches obsolite?
    Hell lets tear every church down. Stupid…
    This building means something to people why is it so important to destroy it?

  • N.O. Crater

    For “Puddinhead”-

    The way your post reads, you villify Dr. Verderber for supposedly sending students to threaten your 16 year old.

    I think the real reason you want to drag his name through the mud is because if he had not stood against the demolition of this wonderful piece of modern architecture, it would have just been a blip on the radar of all of the numerous recovery efforts.

    I am a little riled that so many are coming out of the woodwork NOW instead of when this issue was seriously in debate. I stayed out because I felt that the surrounding neighborhood would have the most say in this but I found it very offensive when jarvis deberry (no caps intentional), disregarded the church as “quirky”.

    Dr. Verderber could have used more support form the throngs who are crying about the church in this late hour.

  • Sherry LeBlanc

    Where will these Catholic boys attend Mass? I’m sure religion is part of their study program. Will they then remove the gazebo to build another church in the same place?