Action Report: Ursuline nuns pray for shrine restoration


Posted on February 14, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 16 at 12:24 AM

Bill Capo / Action Reporter

NEW ORLEANS -- At State Street and Claiborne Avenue is the National Shrine to Our Lady of Prompt Succor. That's another name for the Virgin Mary, when she listens to those in urgent need.

"The history is that she has been most helpful to people when they prayed, and she comes through pretty quickly," smiled Sister Donna Hyndman, OSU.

One reason she became known as Our Lady of Prompt Succor was the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, when residents joined Ursuline nuns in praying for Andrew Jackson's troops to beat the British, and save the city.

"They gathered with the sisters for a night of prayer before the battle," Hyndman said.

"Can you imagine the devastation of New Orleans when 9000 soldiers come in, promised by General Packenham that they will get beauty and booty?" said Sister Carla Dolse, OSU.

"Before the Mass had finished the courier had arrived from the battlefield to say that the battle had been won by General Jackson," Hyndman said.

The sisters keep a promise to celebrate a Mass every year, and they plan a major bicentennial celebration in 2015. But the 90-year-old national shrine needs major repairs, from broken pews to leaks from what is thought to be the original roof, and one leak just over the statue of Christ.

"Can you see this, the mold and all? It comes down and it's coming down right here, and you can see the water marks where the water has sat, and that's very dangerous for the structure of the Shrine," Dolse said.

But the cost of all this work is $2 million. It would be very scary to try to raise that in just three years.

But these are Ursuline nuns. They're depending on the power of prayer, and on you.

"So many people think that this is a really good thing to support, it's nice, and someone else should do it," Dolse said. "But darlin' I'm saying we need you, we need you to be our partner."

Yes, Sister Carla is from New Orleans, and she's praying for a miracle to save a piece of our history, and restore the National Shrine for the future.

To donate to help restore the Our Lady Of Prompt Succor National Shrine, call the Catholic Foundation at 504-596-3063, or visit the website.