St. Augustine Parishioners invite the public to join in a celebration of former pastor Fr. Jerome LeDoux's 50th Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood. A weekend of special events is planned to honor Fr. LeDoux, SVD starting with a celebration to be held at the Sheraton Hotel Saturday, June 2. A Gospel/Jazz Mass will be celebrated Sunday at 10:00 a.m. to be followed with a potluck picnic on the Church Grounds.
Tickets for the Saturday evening event are $20 and can be purchased at the St. Augustine rectory during the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
In keeping with the musical ministry nourished while Fr. LeDoux was assigned to St. Augustine, the acclaimed St. Augustine Soulful Voices Choir, led by Choir Director Carol LeBlanc with musicians Cynthia Dolliole and Esquizito, will be joined at the 10:00 a.m. Mass by musical guests, including the Treme Brass Band, which will lead a grand recessional from the Church.
That recessional will continue after Mass as it becomes a second line that will bring celebrants back to the St. Augustine Church Grounds. The Treme Brass Band will be joined by renowned trumpeter James Andrews and his brother Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews to entertain picnickers at a potluck, complete with good food & cold drink, canopied shade, and surprise guests.
Fr. LeDoux was the Pastor at St. Augustine Parish for 16 years (1990-2006), renewing St. Augustine's role as the spiritual and cultural center of the Treme neighborhood. Built in 1841 by slaves and immigrants, St. Augustine Church was one of the first churches where slaves, free blacks, and whites worshiped together. LeDoux's energetic, multicultural Masses were an homage to post-Vatican II openness of spirit and indigenous cultural awakenings that accented traditional Roman Catholic Masses with references to African spirituality and local culture - jazz, African drumming and dancing, Mardi Gras Indian chants, visual art, and second lines.
In recognition of the importance of this spiritual and cultural icon to area Catholics and the community at large, Mayor C. Ray Nagin will proclaim Sunday June 3 "Fr. LeDoux Day." Nagin will be joined by the New Orleans City Council, which recently acknowledged St. Augustine's "musical, cultural, historical, and spiritual significance, its diversity, and its vital role in our City's recovery" in saluting the Church's musical ministry during the recent 2007 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
In addition to the series of events, a commemorative poster by renowned New Orleans artist Richard Thomas is available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit St. Augustine Parish. The limited edition silk-screen print is available in three editions: an unsigned edition of 3,000 prints; an artist-signed edition of 1,200 prints; and a double-signed (Father LeDoux and Richard Thomas) edition of 800. For more information, please contact GMc+ Advertising at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504.524.8117, ext. 103.
"I wanted to capture both the vitality of LeDoux's ministry and the history of this incredibly important and culturally significant parish, one of the oldest African American Roman Catholic parishes in the United States," artist Thomas stated in explaining the motivation behind his three-panel "totem" poster, painted in Thomas's signature "visual jazz" style. The print is based upon an portrait of Father LeDoux taken by internationally celebrated photographer Michael Grecco.
About Fr. Jerome LeDoux, SVD
Jerome LeDoux was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1930. He grew up attending Sacred Heart Elementary School and traveled to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to attend high school at St. Augustine Seminary. His spiritual training continued in Illinois and Iowa, and he returned to St. Augustine Seminary for further study.
Father LeDoux was ordained to the Catholic priesthood on May 11, 1957. Following ordination, he studied for four years in Rome, where he earned a master's degree in sacred theology and a doctorate in church law. He returned to St Augustine Seminary in Mississippi and taught theology and church law for six years. In 1969, he began teaching at Xavier University in New Orleans and continued in this role for more than a decade.
In 1981, Father LeDoux became pastor or St. Martin de Porres Church in Prairie View, Texas. He moved back to Louisiana in 1984 to lead Baton Rouge's St. Paul the Apostle Church. And in 1990, his near sixteen-year pastorship began at St. Augustine Parish in New Orleans.
In 2006, he accepted an assignment from his order, the Society of Divine Word, to become pastor of Our Mother of Mercy Parish in Fort Worth, Texas. As he has done since 1969, Father LeDoux continues to write a weekly column entitled "Reflections on Life," syndicated in several Catholic weeklies, Louisiana Weekly in New Orleans, and Seacoast Echo in Bay St. Louis.
About the Musicians
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes and his Louisiana Sunspots are a unique roots band. A former NFL football player, Barnes leads his band through several branches of roots music. He is a master harmonica player, accomplished accordionist, and a jam-up drummer. A student of New Orleans traditional and street culture, Sunpie's set mixes blues, zydeco, Caribbean, and New Orleans music in a festive manner.
James Andrews, a renowned trumpeter, vocalist, and band leader, brings many musical influences to bear in his music. Part of one of the many New Orleans' musical dynastic families, James' influences range from the traditional jazz he came up with at Preservation Hall, to the rhythm and blues of his grandfather (Jessie Hill, whose 1960 classic "Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo" is still regularly heard in New Orleans) and uncle (Prince LaLa, best known for his song, "She Put a Hurt On Me"), to the brass band sound that he helped vitalize after Danny Barker's resuscitation of the genre. James' nickname, "Satchmo of the Ghetto," speaks to his reverence for Louis Armstrong and his love of traditional jazz and New Orleans culture.
The Treme Brass Band, a 2006 NEA National Heritage Award recipient and an integral part of New Orleans' brass band heritage and resurgence, specializes in traditional jazz numbers and original compositions, as well as the jazzed-up hymns that have been the stock-in-trade of marching bands, jazz funerals, and street parades for decades. Led by Benny Jones, the Treme Brass Band has a long tradition of generously supporting Church functions and community events. The band's name comes from the historic neighborhood in which St. Augustine Church is located, long known as the home of many generations of New Orleans's finest musicians.
Troy Michael Andrews, an accomplished trombone and trumpet player, grew up absorbing lessons learned from his older brother, trumpeter James Andrews. Nicknamed "Trombone Shorty" from the days when his instrument was taller than he was, Andrews has gone on to play with Lenny Kravitz, U2, Green Day, Lionel Ferbos and a variety of New Orleans and international musicians representing all genres. He's the leader of his own band, Orleans Avenue, a group that blends jazz, funk, spirituals, hip-hop, pop, rock, and brass band influences into a sound distinctly their own.
Fr. Jerome LeDoux, SVD Golden Jubilee Celebration
Saturday, June 2
Public Celebration at Sheraton Hotel (500 Canal St), 7:00 p.m. with Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes & the Louisiana Sunspots, James Andrews, and other Special Guests
Sunday, June 3
"Fr. LeDoux Day" as proclaimed by the New Orleans City
Council and Mayor C. Ray Nagin
50th Anniversary Gospel/Jazz Mass at St. Augustine Parish (1210 Gov. Nicholls St.) with Soulful Voices Choir, 10:00 a.m.
Street Parade/Second Line with Treme Brass Band after Mass, noon
Potluck Picnic on Church Grounds following second line with Treme Brass Band, James and Troy Andrews
For program information, or tickets for Saturday evening Sheraton event, please contact St. Augustine rectory at 525-5934 and 566-1018.