New Orleans Native to Lead Archdiocese

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NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, JUNE 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Today Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Gregory Aymond, currently serving in Austin, Texas, to lead his home archdiocese of New Orleans.

Archbishop Aymond, 59, will succeed Archbishop Alfred Hughes, 76, who retired for reasons of age.

A statement from the archdiocese reported that the prelate will be the first New Orleans native to head the archdiocese in its 216 years of existence.

Archbishop Aymond was ordained a priest in 1975, and auxiliary bishop in 1997. In 2000 he was appointed as bishop of Austin.

Archbishop Hughes said that the new archbishop "brings a lively faith, a keen intelligence and a zealous commitment to the mission of the Church."

He noted Archbishop Aymond's "rich background in Catholic education," as he was rector of the Notre Dame Seminary for 14 years, and simultaneously held the post of executive director of Christian formation.

A letter from Archbishop Aymond to the people of New Orleans affirmed, "I look forward to my 'home coming' in August."

He continued: "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."

In a press conference later, the prelate stated, "I promise to stay close to the Lord in order that I can fulfill my episcopal ministry faithfully."

He will be installed August 20 to the archdiocese, which has some 384,994 Catholics served by 369 priests, 183 permanent deacons and 721 religious.