Day 1-2: The Land Of Cotton

When you see Spanish Moss, you know you aren’t in Wisconsin anymore.

Having been scooped up at the airport, we drove even farther South until I was in one of the most dangerous places on your planet… where massive oil refining is done, there are strategic reserves, a nuclear power plant, and nothing but a levy holding back the mighty Mississippi, presently in flood.  Big pipes go over the roads so that oil can be pumped from barges on the river to the refineries that line the bank.   Technologically interesting, though not exactly serene.

And so we priests tucked in to many pounds of ….


And thus it was morning and then evening, the first day.

Today, however, brought Lebanese food, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Alas, the coffee was not as fierce as I had hoped, though I discerned its characteristic cardamom.

The conversation with these priests is fascinating.  They are technologically savvy in a way that I can’t even hope to approach.  Also, they have given me a good picture of the state of the Church in the region.  For example, one of them told me that in his diocese half the priests of the diocese will hit retirement age (and they are fully expected to retire) within the next 5 years.  The bishop, during the Chrism Mass, had delivered a sobering sermon describing how serious their situation is and, from what I understood of the account, he essentially admitted that what they have been doing hasn’t been working.   That, friends, is quite something for a bishop to do in public.   It is a first step to fixing the problem, too.

The status quaestionis here has made me appreciate even more the effort of The Extraordinary Ordinary to provide priests for the future of the diocese.

In any event, it was an interesting, if scary, discussion.

Then, after stopping for a bit at a coffee shop so I could hammer out an article for the paper, it was into the car again for the drive North, to…


Did you know that this was the See of a Diocese that is now suppressed? Having been suppressed in 1910, it remains a titular see.   Every bishop has to be a bishop of some place or other. So, bishops who aren’t, bishops who are e.g., auxiliaries, curial or diplomatic officials, are given dioceses that exist only in memory. The present Titular Archbishop of Natchitoches is the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia and Timor-Leste and also the Apostolic Delegate to Brunei Darussalam, American-born Joseph Marino.

In any event,…

Natchitoches is pronounced ˈnækətəʃ or nak-ə-tĭsh. It was named after the local tribe.

One site I found when I was looking for the meaning Of Natchitoches says:

Legend and local “historians” have for many years erroneously interpreted the word “natchitoches” as “chinqapin” or “chinqapin eaters”. The most accurate translation however, is believed to be as recorded by John R. Swanton in his early book “The Indian Tribes of North America”.

“The word “Natchitoches” is generally supposed to be derived from “nashitosh”, the native word for pawpaw, but an early Spanish writer, Jose Antonio Pichardo, was told that it was from a native word “nacicit” signifying “a place where the soil is the color of red ochre,” and that it was applied originally to a small creek in their neighborhood running through red soil.”

I don’t know about chestnuts, or even chestnuts about chestnuts. But they do have famous meat pies here. I am also told that Jim Croce died here, there are haunted places all over the area, The Horse Soldiers starring John Wayne was shot here in 1959, and an ancient Zeuglodont found in 1943 was named after the town: Natchitochia. I wonder how they pronounce that….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iPadre says:

    That looks like Fr. Decker? I think I will be seeing him next week.

  2. Manducat in the hat says:

    Welcome to The South, Fr. Z. I pray you enjoy your stay. Don’t forget to partake of the fried alligator and sample some of the local craft brews (Blue Moon doesn’t count as it’s made by MillerCoors).

  3. Manducat in the hat says:

    If you haven’t been already, stop by St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Natchez, about 20 miles south of town. Ask about Grandpere Augustin. You’ll get a real history lesson.

  4. PhilipNeri says:

    Fr Z., come to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans! We’ll show you what the future of the Church looks like in the South. . .

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  5. Most dioceses have seen the decease of some of their faithful (and many, the death of incardinated priests) so it is not unhopeful that many suppressed dioceses will have (or already have) saints in Heaven, who may well pray for their titular bishops.

  6. Orlando says:

    Father Z, I am so glad you came to the South. The transformation that is happening down here is truly amazing. I would venture to guess that on a percentage basis we had more Latin Mass’s them any other region of the Country. Next time you are down this way, I would hope you could stop by the real south, North Carolina and see the incredible work His Excellency Bishop (should be Cardinal) Jugis is doing. We recently opened a new seminary and there are several parishes offering the TLM. We have a generation of young priest faithfully leading the charge against an entrenched 1970s generation of pastors . They can often be found throughout the archdiocese working in our schools , including at Charlotte Catholic High School , whether in the classrooms or on the sidelines of all our sporting events dressed in traditional attire being unabashed witness to the one true faith. The future in old Dixie is bright, indeed!

  7. mike cliffson says:

    I don’t understand priests retiring unless it ‘s in the sense of not being physically able to run a Parish any longer – the family ‘ve been at mass at the Little Sisters of the Poor’, whom may the Almighty continue to strengthen, ‘s homes , where very doddery priests in their late eighties, inmates themselves , said mass with the help of some tactful and unobtrusive mcing, twosentence sermons or none, and extraordinary ministers for communion. (Yes , the mcing and the extraordinary ministers of communion were sisters) Both painful and inspiring to see the effort put into the elevation of a not very full light chalice halfway up……. What happens stateside? I mean, I ‘m sure priests deserve every minute of endlife rest at whatever age it is , but….

    Apropo of your post’s yummies : Bon appetit! retrospectively, that is I hope now that you enjoyed them then ,then being at some time between the photos and your posting. If I may make so bold as to wonder:
    Lewis Carol for whatever reason seems to have shared you cousins’ spelling and possibly pronunciation of crayfish, though disdaining them in the character of the little man in one poem :
    IN stature the Manlet was dwarfish–
    No burly, big , Blunderbore he;
    And he wearily gazed on the crawfish
    His Wifelet had dressed for his tea.*
    perhaps Carol just needed a rhyme, perhaps time was, in living memory in lots of places, when seafood and its fluvial equivalent was food for the poor, not a costly delicacy. Brits once considered anything tasteless and cheap the right fuel for schoolboys, undergraduates, (and Catholic seminarians ), admittedly along with beer. Even if tasty you can get tired of manna when the daily staple.And I’ve had crayfish near Madrid whose hot spicey sauce was excellent but not quite enough to hide the strong flavour of mud, being told that the invading American crayfish had not the flavour of the European variety it was replacing. I wouldn’t like to say. Excellent in inland paellas, mind you.
    You tactfully Write : Today However we had Lebanese food


  8. Natchitoches is beautiful. Have relatives there. Yummy, crawfish; I will be feasting on some of them little craw daddies tomorrow. And the meat pies are totally awesome. Enjoy!

  9. @ Manducat in the hat, do you know the Roque family there? My brother married Tammy Roque at St. Augustine on Cane River

  10. Come further south, almost to the end of the world, in Bayou Vista; and if you want to go to the end of the world we will take you there for excellent seafood or stay close to home and continue the crawfish boil. Or just hang out in a small parish that has manned a 24 hour adoration chapel for over 20 years. Either way, enjoy being near where God comes to vacation and His children love His Church.

  11. david s says:

    Speaking of retired priests, a few years ago Fr P at age 92 or so mounted the high pulpit a full story above the sanctuary floor.
    He began to read the announcements:
    “Today’s second collection is for retired priests”….(long pause)….”Whatever that is”….
    (another long pause)…..”Maybe they’re sick”…..

  12. Manducat in the hat says:

    @ semperfic I don’t know the Roque family. My sister was married at St. A’s as well by Fr. Humphries. I have a bunch of family there, Cunninghams, Prudhommes,

  13. Manducat in the hat says:

    @ semperficatholic – My Great Uncle is Fr. John Cunningham of the Diocese of Natchitoches.

  14. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The diocese losing half of its priests in the next five years is so sad. Here in Denver we have 67 seminarians (a few of whom are studying for other dioceses). I am confident that the vocations folks would be happy to help other dioceses learn about the approach that has worked here. (I had the pleasure of meeting several of the seminarians last spring at the first Mass of a new priest of my acquaintance. They not only chanted the propers, but let me join them for it. We don’t just have quantity, we have quality.)

  15. mike cliffson says:

    David S
    Good on yer Fr P aged 92! Exactly !

  16. TheDude05 says:

    Come on Father give the CU a shout out

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