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||Name redacted at the request of the author
||New Orleans, LA
||I am a Holy Cross graduate. I live in Orleans Parish not far from St. Francis Cabrini, and my parents live in St. Francis Cabrini Parish. I write in support of demolishing the church.
Even before Katrina, when St. Francis was ostensibly a funcitoning parish, the costs of repairing the church's "architecturally significant" roof were beyond the means of St. Francis' steadily declining number of parishioners. The so-called "architecturally significant" roof leaked from Day One, in fact.
Now, led on by a self-serving Tulane architecture professor (who now teaches at Clemson and has his N.O. home for sale), the "Friends of St. Francis Cabrini Church" want Holy Cross to change its plans and, no doubt, assume responsibility for this eyesore. And they call that "compromise." Where do the "Friends" offer to compromise their plans? Their idea of "compromise" is for Holy Cross to compromise the architectural and spatial integrity of its campus -- not for them to compromise even one brick of St. Francis Cabrini church. Opponents of demolition have been shrill in their "defense" of a church that was never full, exaggerating its historic and architectural significance, and even lying about its history. (Exampe: They once claimed that it was the first Catholic church built after Vatican II in the N.O. Archdiocese. When this lie was exposed, they fabricated another story about how the church "reflects" various aspects of Vatican II, which didn't end until more than 2 years after the church was formally dedicated.)
Holy Cross is more than 157 years old (the HC Brothers arrived here in 1849 and immediately began educating young men). Cabrini is less than 44 years old. Holy Cross looks at this move as the beginning of the school's next 150 years of tradition and heritage. You don't begin a 150-year journey by making a MAJOR compromise in the footprint of your new home, or by taking on many millions of dollars in repair and upkeep for a building you neither want nor need. Nor do you begin such a journey by giving up the "prime" Paris Avenue frontage that the church occupies, thereby obscuring the much more significant (not to mention functional) edifice that HC plans to erect on that site. All of this was said to the members of St. Francis Cabrini parish at a well-publicized and well-attended meeting in July 2006 at St. Pius X church. The parishioners voted OVERWHELMINGLY in support of the HC plan. The opponents were there but, as they are today, they were vastly outnumbered. They simply cannot accept defeat.
The opponents of demolition argue that the church was designed by a locally significant architect, the late Buster Curtis, who also designed the Superdome. To them, I would argue that the taxpayers of America have already spent $185 MILLION preserving a shrine to the late Mr. Curtis (i.e., the Superdome). That expenditure was appropriate because the dome is (1) significant in design, struture and purpose, and (2) still very much in demand and use. None of that can be said of St. Francis Cabrini church. How many shrines do we need to honor Mr. Curtis' legacy? No disrespect to his family, but he wasn't that significant of an architect.
Please, FEMA and SHPO, let the Archdiocese tear down St. Francis Cabrini so that Holy Cross (a viable, functioning institution with MUCH more history, tradition and significance than this church building) can lead the recovery of Gentilly, the Lakefront and Lakeview.