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….