First, the Archbishop-Elect wrote a letter to the Diocese of Austin:
Dear Brother Priests, Friends and Co-workers in Ministry:
This letter is very difficult to write. I wish I could communicate this message personally, but that is not possible.
I have been informed by Archbishop Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio, that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has named me Archbishop of New Orleans.
Needless to say, this appointment creates in me very mixed feelings. I have been privileged to serve as the Bishop of Austin for the last nine years. Central Texas has become home. I have worked with a great group of priests who have become my brothers. The deacons, religious, diocesan and parish staffs have been most supportive and genuine co-workers in ministry. I have enjoyed our ministry together and being a part of this vibrant, fast-growing diocese. I am very grateful to God and to each of you.
I also feel humbled that the Holy Father has asked me to serve as Archbishop of New Orleans. In recent years, the city has gone through many changes and I am aware of the challenges ahead.
Today I write primarily to thank you for your ministry and to request your prayers for me in this time of transition.
This morning I will be in New Orleans for a news conference at 10:30 a.m. and return to Austin for a conference at 4 p.m.
In the near future, I will schedule a “Mass of Thanksgiving” in four areas of the Diocese to express my gratitude to God and to you for the privilege of serving as the Bishop of Austin.
I will be in Rome to receive the pallium, a symbol of the ministry of the Archbishop, on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The installation in New Orleans is on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 at 2 p.m.
I hold you and all the people of this diocese in my heart and in prayer. Please lift me to God in your prayers.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Bishop of Austin
In the Archdiocese, with an new appended title, Archbishop Emeritus and Apostolic Administrator Hughes shared a few words about Abp-Elect Aymond as part of his farewell letter:
I rejoice at the announcement in Rome today that Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop-designate Gregory Aymond the fourteenth Archbishop of New Orleans. Welcome home, Archbishop Aymond. You are no stranger to us all. You are the first native son to be called to shepherd this wonderful Archdiocese. Archbishop Aymond will be installed on August 20 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral.
Archbishop Aymond was born in New Orleans on November 12, 1949. He attended St. Joseph Seminary College and completed his theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1975. From the beginning Archbishop Hannan recognized Father Aymond=s special gifts. He appointed him to teach at St. John Vianney Prep Seminary where he not only taught but then became its rector. Archbishop Schulte missioned Father Aymond to Notre Dame Seminary in 1981. He served first as Director of Pastoral Formation and then Rector of Notre Dame Seminary from 1986-2000. In 1997 Pope John Paul II appointed Monsignor Aymond Auxiliary Bishop in New Orleans. Then in 2000 he appointed him to serve the Diocese of Austin, Texas.
Archbishop Aymond brings a rich background in Catholic education. While simultaneously serving as Rector of Notre Dame Seminary, he held the post of Executive Director of Christian Formation. In that role, he oversaw the Catholic Schools, Religious Education, Campus Ministry, the Youth Office and the Office for the Pontifical Mission Societies. On the national scene he has been recognized as a leader in Catholic education and serves now as the Chairman of the Board of the National Catholic Education Association.
In Austin, Texas, Bishop Aymond presided over significant growth in parishes and schools. The campus ministry in the Diocese of Austin is a model for outreach to young adults of college age. Archbishop Aymond brings a lively faith, a keen intelligence and
I will now serve as the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the installation on August 20. As I prepare to conclude my service as Archbishop of New Orleans I want to acknowledge the extraordinary sacrifices which people around me have had to make. I came in May 2001. These eight years have been rather turbulent. Extraordinary people in leadership around me have given of themselves unstintingly to address a series of challenges. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 rocked our nation. The clergy sex abuse crisis rocked our Church. Hurricane Katrina rocked New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast area. Reconfiguration of the parishes and schools has rocked this Archdiocese. Now the economic downturn has rocked the global economy. In each case, faith-filled, competent men and women have stepped forward to lead our Church response.
The difficult decisions that I have been called upon to make have been made after careful consultation and prayerful discernment. Inevitably there will be those who differ with me. I want to express my sorrow for the pain that has been experienced and ask forgiveness where hurt has angered some. We are one Church, with one Father, one Lord and Savior, in one Holy Spirit. God grant the understanding and the healing that will enable us fully to be the vibrant, evangelizing and Eucharistic Church he calls us to be.
May God bless Archbishop Aymond. May God bless us all.
Lastly, Archbishop-Elect Aymond addressed his new flock:
Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Archdiocese of New Orleans
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
I have been informed by Archbishop Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio, that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has named me Archbishop of New Orleans. This news humbles me and I renew my gratitude to God for calling me to serve as a bishop of the Catholic Church. I also express gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for his faith in me and for entrusting to me the pastoral care of you, the people of God in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I promise to pray for you daily and to strive to be for you a good shepherd, reflecting to the best of my ability the mind and heart of Jesus.
I regret that my visit to New Orleans for this announcement has to be very brief. I must return to the Diocese of Austin for a 4 p.m. news conference. In the near future, we will have many opportunities to share more relaxed time together. I look forward to my “home coming” in August.
Though I have been away from New Orleans for the past nine years, I have often recalled very fond memories and have prayed for the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans every day. Returning as your Archbishop will give us the opportunity to renew memories of the past and to journey together in new ways as God’s pilgrim people in the future. I particularly remember the very dedicated priests, many of whom I had the opportunity to teach during my years at Notre Dame Seminary. The priests, deacons, religious and laity in New Orleans form a lively, vibrant family of faith. I look forward to being a part of this family again.
I will be traveling to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul, June 29, to receive the pallium from our Holy Father, a symbol of the pastoral responsibility of an archbishop. The people of God in the Diocese of Austin and the Archdiocese of New Orleans will remain in my prayers and heart as I kneel before the Holy Father to receive the pallium.
As I pray for the local Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, I ask that you please lift me in prayer, especially during this time of transition. I look forward to the Installation Mass on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 at 2 p.m. at St. Louis Cathedral. Until then, God’s peace be with you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Bishop of Austin
Not being one to disappoint, he traveled back to Austin not only for the 4 p.m. press conference, but additionally, he has a Confirmation to celebrate tonight.
Photocredit: Diocese of Austin