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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Ninth Ward

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Oct 23, 2009

Photo by D. Panagos
His All Holiness blesses the Mississippi River.



NEW ORLEANS - His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew made a return visit to the Lower Ninth Ward District today to survey the recovery and restoration efforts of the wetland area in Bayou Bienvenue.

In January 2006, the Ecumenical Patriarch traveled to New Orleans in order to witness the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and to pray with the people of New Orleans. His visit today was part of his continuing advocacy for the protection of the environment that is being highlighted once again at the Eighth Religion, Science and Environment Symposium, entitled "Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River," convened by His All Holiness this week in New Orleans.

Upon his arrival in the area, His All Holiness walked up a platform overlooking the wetlands and was briefed by local officials on the work of the coastal restoration of the bayou, the re-building of the levees, which would prevent storm waves and allow trees and other vegetation to flourish again in the area.

"We are here again to pray for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families and to express our solidarity with the people of New Orleans. We shall also continue to pray and work for the protection of the natural environment," said His All Holiness to the local officials, conservationists and residents of the area.

 "God compelled you to come and stand with us in our fight to restore the natural environment in this area, which is part of God's creation," said City of New Orleans Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis as she thanked His All Holiness for his visit and his prayers and on behalf of the City Council presented him with a Proclamation.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proceeded near the waters of the bayou and along with other hierarchs and clergy accompanying him chanted the hymn of the Epiphany. He then toured the area where the levees had broke and met with local residents who have only recently moved back.

Earlier in the day, His All Holiness conducted a memorial service at the St. Louis Cemetery # 3 of New Orleans, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and also in memory of the late Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North & South America, whose patron saint's day is celebrated today, according to the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar.

Yesterday, Oct. 22, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as part of the Eighth Religion, Science and the Environment (RSE) Symposium, conducted the Service of Sanctification, blessing of the Waters, aboard the riverboat "Natchez" and symbolically sprinkled Holy Water over the Mississippi River. All the participants of the Symposium were aboard to witness the ceremony.

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Contact: Stavros Papagermanos
Tel.:  (212) 570-3530 or (718) 415-5850


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