friar blessing man

Jay Orman received the Sacraments of Initiation from Mike Haney during Mass at St. Mary of the Angels on Feb. 27.

For the past few months at St. Mary of the Angels (SMA), Vanessa Matthews, faith formation director, and Mike Haney, parochial vicar, have been meeting weekly with 93-year-old widower Jay Orman.

Jay is one of the increasingly numerous, religiously unaffiliated Americans who has participated, at one time or another in his life, in any of a number of Christian denominations, but never joined one – an infamous “none” as they are called today. In recent years, his interest in Catholicism piqued, and he began reading printed and online material and watching Catholic television programming. He struck up a conversation about Catholicism one day with a neighbor, who is very involved in her Catholic parish, and she invited him to come to church with her, an invitation he was more than willing to accept since he no longer drives a car. For months, Jay sat content in the back of church, absorbing as much as he could by watching and listening, and always coming forward in the Communion procession to receive a blessing.

When his Catholic interest reached fever pitch, Jay phoned the Archdiocese of New Orleans to find out what he should do next. The Office of Evangelization referred him to the church nearest to his residence, St. Mary of the Angels. Jay presented himself to us as a man intent on becoming Catholic before his death, which, although he’s in excellent health, he knows is drawing closer every day. On Sunday, Feb. 27, after Vanessa and Mike agreed that Jay was an adequately prepared catechumen, he gathered with relatives, apartment neighbors and other friends with the 10 a.m. Mass assembly at SMA to celebrate the Initiation Sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

Jay is the incarnation of a couple well-worn sayings, like “you’re never too old” and “God works in wonderful ways!” Now we can’t wait to see how many others Jay will bring back to active Catholic participation in the remaining years of his life.