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New Orleans mourns man who ‘personified what a priest is to be in the 21st century’

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 05/07/17

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The Rev. John Arnone, a popular former pastor who taught at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, died Friday (May 5) from complications associated with heart surgery. He was 49. Known as a “priest’s priest,” Arnone was well regarded for his open and unassuming approach to ministry, said the Rev. Jim Wehner, rector at Notre Dame Seminary. “From our standpoint, Pope Francis has been challenging the Catholic Church to be very hands on and very accessible, and I think our Father Arnone personified what a priest is to be in the 21st century,” said Wehner. Arnone was serving as the seminary’s assistant director of pastoral formation, where he focused on teaching soon-to-be priests how to make the transition from school and spiritual training to the real world of running a parish. He was charged with mentoring 30 new seminarians through their spiritual educations, Wehner said. A native of Algiers, Arnone served as pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan for four years before joining the seminary’s faculty in June. Before that he was pastor for Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Violet and St. Bernard Catholic Church, said Sarah McDonald, communications director for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Condolences and well wishes for his family were pouring out over social media Saturday morning. “Sometimes priest can seem to be on a pedestal, or seem too theological, too hierarchical. And people appreciate it when they can see the humanity,” the Rev. Steven Bruno, the pastor at St. Rita who succeeded Arnone, said in an interview Saturday. “He was a good friend, in other words, to people, not just a priest.”

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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