The Little Sisters of Sacred Heart gave a special treat to some of the residents and staff recently when we went on a Spiritual Pilgrimage to New Orleans. It was a very special day as we left Sacred Heart (behind schedule because of a bus breakdown) and travelled to New Orleans.
Our first stop was the serene St. Louis Cemetery #3 on Esplanade Avenue. It was consecrated in 1825 and contains a beautiful tomb of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Father Klepac led a mass for everyone directly in front of the tomb – it was a very moving and ethereal experience for all.
We then toured two former Little Sisters of the Poor homes that have been closed or converted into other uses today. Our next stop was a great lunch at Liuzza’s Italian restaurant where everyone enjoyed po’boys, pasta and other homemade delicacies.
The highlight of the pilgrimage was the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Seelos. The shrine is located in St. Mary’s Assumption Church. In 2000, the Catholic Church beatified Father Seelos, making him one step away from sainthood. Many miracles are attributed to his intercession both during his life and after his death. Father Seelos came to New Orleans in 1866. He contracted yellow fever and died on October 4, 1867. During his short time in New Orleans, it is said that Father Seelos took on the hardest tasks and did the most penance, but was the most cheerful member of the community. Today he is known as the “Cheerful Ascetic”.
St. Mary’s Assumption Church, where Father Seelos served as pastor is still active. The hand carved wooden statues of saints that make up the high altar are originals from Germany and are some of the finest pieces of sacred art in the country. The confessionals are the same rooms that Father Seelos used more than 100 years ago! Behind the church and shrine, there is a beautiful courtyard dotted with magnolia and palm trees with benches and fountains that are a perfect spot for prayer and meditation. There is also a very nice gift shop with a large selection of religious gifts.
Tired but very happy, we all headed back to the bus for the return journey to Mobile and our lovely home. What a wonderful experience full of blessings!