We New Orleanians are as passionate about our faith as we are about eating, music, and making merry. Although the city’s population is heavily Catholic, many different faiths have deep roots here. Our houses of worship are worth visiting both for their religious and cultural attributes. Together, they tell a rich and varied story of New Orleans life, both past and present.
Few cities in the world are so identified by a building as is New Orleans. The city is instantly recognized by the sight of the strikingly beautiful Saint Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France, as it is formally known, was built in 1794 and is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. Mass is celebrated there 7 days a week, including two times on Sunday, once at 9:00 a. m. and again at 11:00 a. m. Many special events (which are usually free) are held at the church throughout the year and especially during the Christmas season. When mass is not in session, you may tour the inside of the church and visit its two gift shops. For more info call 504-525-9585.
St. Augustine Catholic Church, the nation’s first integrated Catholic church, is located in the Treme, just a few blocks from the French Quarter, at 1210 Governor Nicholls St. From its inception in 1841, it served New Orleans’ free people of color as well as those who were enslaved. Today, it is diverse in every way imaginable. It welcomes all people and is of special interest to visitors because of its gospel choir, innate beauty, special cultural events, and Naturally N’Awlins spirit. Visitors also flock to this church to see the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a shrine to Africans who lost their lives. If you are looking for a truly local and authentic experience during your stay, then visit St. Augustine Church. There, just a few blocks away from Bourbon St., you will find real New Orleans culture, music, history, and hospitality. Mass is celebrated at the church from 10:00 a. m. to noon on Sundays. Parishioners pray the rosary and attend mass on Wednesday evenings beginning at 5:30 p. m. For directions or more information call the rectory at 504-525-5934.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral is the first Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas. Situated along the length of Bayou St. John at 1200 Robert E. Lee Blvd., the church is breathtakingly beautiful both inside and out. Over the last 25 years, the congregation, whose roots extend back over two hundred years, has hosted the Greek Festival, a popular 3-day celebration of Hellenic pastries, dishes, and heritage. For more information about the church and its history visit www.holytrinitycathedral.org. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated there each Sunday at 10:00 a. m. Call 504-282-0259 with any questions.
Touro Synagogue’s historic congregation was founded in 1828. The present-day Touro, located at 4238 Saint Charles Ave., is an amalgam of two earlier congregations, one founded by German Jewish settlers, the other a Spanish-Portuguese synagogue whose families were largely of Sephardic background and who arrived from South America and the Caribbean. Its unique history, its dedication to social action and diversity, and its annual Jazz Fest Shabbat—a service that combines Judaism with America’s only indigenous art form, Jazz—make this congregation a New Orleans institution. For more information about this congregation visit http://www.tourosynagogue.com or call 504-895-4843.
Temple Sinai, founded in 1870, is the largest Jewish congregation in Louisiana and the oldest Reform one. Temple Sinai is proud of its history of inspired rabbinic leadership committed to Tikkun Olam. The Congregation has a “historic tradition of serving the spiritual needs of its diverse membership and strives to create a congregation that seeks to be a spiritual presence in the lives of its members in order to help cultivate and satisfy their religious, musical, cultural, emotional and intellectual interests and needs.”
Other synagogues and Jewish organizations can be found at www.jewishnola.com.
First African Baptist Church (504-895-1229) at 2216 – 3rd St. was founded in the 1830s. It is among the oldest continuous African American church congregations in Louisiana. The current edifice was built in the early 1900s.
Saint Anna’s Episcopal Church, located at 1313 Esplanade Ave., brings diverse peoples into one house to worship Jesus and to understand the vast tapestry that is God’s good creation. The bedrock of the soul and life of St. Anna’s is open and welcoming hospitality. The church, which has an interesting history, has special ties to the music community of New Orleans. Its Mission to Musicians concert series, which is free and open to the public, features local and legendary musical talent. Home-style dinners are served during the concerts as well, making this event a must-do for lovers of New Orleans culture. The series is held each summer, but similar events are often hosted throughout the year. The missions’ aim is to ‘keep the music playing’, to bring people together, and to inform others about our culture, food, and the importance of saving New Orleans. For more info about the church and its many events call 504-947-2121.
For more than 160 years, Trinity Episcopal Church has been an integral part of the New Orleans Community. Located at 1329 Jackson Ave., the church has an active congregation. It is widely known in the community for its free concerts, a TAIZE service, and a 5,000 pipe Trinity tracker organ. For more info about the church call 504-522-0276. For more info about the music ministries and its many events contact organist Albinas or Manon Prizgintas at 504-670-2520 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisiana Voodoo is often confused with—but is not completely separable from—Haitian Vodou and southern Hoodoo. A religion that stems from a combination of Roman Catholic ritual elements and the animism and magic of slaves from West Africa, Voodoo originates from a word which means “the power; that who is invisible; the creator of all things.” Although Voodoo is often practiced in the home, you can learn more about this often misunderstood religion at The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum (724 Dumaine St., 504-680-0128) and at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple (828 N. Rampart St., 504-522-9627) where a Priestess is on site.
You can find information about houses of worship for Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists by clicking here. To learn about New Orleans’ Unitarian Universalist church click here. You can find a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall at 2021 Oretha C. Haley Blvd. Call 504-522-0792 for directions and info. Contact Ty via the New Orleans Lamplight Circle for information about pagan resources in the city. To learn about resources for Christian Scientists in the area, visit this website. Click here to see pictures of historic churches in New Orleans.