Gregory Michael Aymond
|Archbishop of New Orleans|
|Enthroned||August 20, 2009|
|Predecessor||Alfred Clifton Hughes|
|Ordination||May 10, 1975|
|Consecration||January 10, 1997|
|Other||Bishop of Austin
Coadjutor Bishop of Austin (2000-2001)
Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans (1997-2000)
|Born||November 12, 1949
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Denomination||Roman Catholic Church|
Gregory Michael Aymond
|Reference style||The Most Reverend|
|Spoken style||Your Excellency|
|Posthumous style||not applicable|
Gregory Michael Aymond (born November 12, 1949) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the fourteenth and current Archbishop of New Orleans. He previously served as Bishop of Austin from 2001 to 2009.
The oldest of three children, Gregory Aymond was born in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. He attended St. James Major Elementary School, and evacuated New Orleans with his family by skiff after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. After graduating from Cor Jesu High School in 1967, he studied at St. Joseph Seminary College near Covington until 1971. He then attended Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, from where he obtained his Master of Divinity degree in 1975. He then furthered his studies at the Institute for Ministry at Loyola University.
Aymond was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Philip Hannan on May 10, 1975. He then served as a professor and later rector at St. John Vianney Preparatory Seminary in New Orleans until 1981, when he became director of education and professor of pastoral theology and homiletics at his alma mater Notre Dame Seminary. From 1986 to 2000, he served as president-rector of Notre Dame; his tenure was the longest in the seminary's history.
During his priestly ministry, he also served as executive director of the Department of Christian Formation, with responsibility for Catholic schools and religious education. He was director of Society for the Propagation of the Faith and was a member of its national board (1977-2000). During the 1980s, Aymond and groups of seminarians from Notre Dame began to visit Mexico, where they built houses and offered religious training. In 1994 he founded Christ the Healer, a medical mission program of the New Orleans Archdiocese in Granada, Nicaragua.
On November 19, 1996, Aymond was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans and Titular Bishop of Acholla by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on January 10, 1997 from Archbishop Francis Bible Schulte, with Archbishops Philip Hannan and John Favalora serving as co-consecrators.
In 1998 he allowed Brian Matherne, a coach at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco, to remain in his post despite accusations that Matherne had molested a male student years earlier. Aymond dropped the matter without alerting police after unsuccessful attempts to speak to the alleged victim; Matherne was later arrested and pleaded guilty to molesting seventeen boys over a period of fifteen years. Aymond admitted his mistake in not firing Matherene and said that such situations must be applied to learning and improvement.
Aymond was named Coadjutor Bishop of Austin, Texas, on 2000 June 2, being formally installed as such on the following August 3. He later succeeded John McCarthy as the fourth Bishop of Austin on 2001 January 2. The Diocese of Austin grew rapidly (partly as a result of immigration) during Aymond's bishopric and actually had more churchgoers than many archdioceses, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
On 2009 June 12, Pope Benedict XVI named Aymond as the 14th Archbishop of New Orleans, designating him for formal installation as Archbishop of New Orleans on 2009 August 20 at the Saint Louis Cathedral. He continues, within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to chair the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People and sits on the Committees for Campus Ministry, Education, Laity, and World Missions.
Aymond faces challenges in "the aftermath of years of sex scandals and the unpopular consolidation of parishes and closing of churches for economic reasons" as phrased by Kevin McGill of the Associated Press. Even so Aymond said, "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would come back here as [arch]bishop" on 2009 June 12.
On 2009 June 12 Aymond already found himself faced with a complaint that he only "postures as someone who takes clergy sex crimes seriously" from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
No stranger to controversy, Aymond himself "was one of more than 80 United States bishops who wrote to the University of Notre Dame (in South Bend, Indiana) to protest its award of an honorary degree to President Barack Obama"; in Austin, Aymond, who in 2007 tried to block a speaking appointment there by dissident Catholic theologian Fr. Charles Curran, was known as an opponent of abortion, artificial birth control, and capital punishment.
A 2009 June 16 Times-Picayune editorial praised as "a promising way to begin" Aymond's willingness to listen to his new parishioners.
Aymond is thought to be an effective recruiter of people to church vocations, the Austin Diocese web site indicating that under his bishopric the number of seminarians increased threefold.
Aymond has been described as "a sharp, conciliatory operator" and a "quiet pragmatist who prefers to promote Catholic values in and out of his church without the public confrontations some colleagues willingly accept."
Aymond has published two books:
Alfred Clifton Hughes
|Archbishop of New
John Edward McCarthy