By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

Citing the leadership skills of King Louis IX of France, Archbishop Greg M. Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans delivered a homily of hope for the future and asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to follow God during the next four years during the Louisiana Governor’s Mass on Jan. 13 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.  

DSC_5306.tif

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, left, celebrates the Eucharistic Prayer as Bishop Michael G. Duca, also prays during the Louisiana Governor’s Mass on Jan. 13 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.  Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator

 

Edwards, who defeated challenger Eddie Rispone in a heated runoff election in November, began his inauguration day by attending Mass at the cathedral, mirroring his inauguration day of four years ago. Following Mass, Edwards headed to State Capitol for ceremonies on a day when the inauguration was largely runner-up to LSU’s national championship encounter with Clemson in New Orleans.  

Archbishop Aymond said there are many ways to be formed as a leader, with the first being to use one’s God-given gifts.  

He posed the question “who can we look to as a government leader to be model of effective leadership?” 

He said King Louis IX’s leadership model is relevant today. “As we look at history, we see that at his coronation he took an oath to be a father to his people,” the archbishop said. “He wanted to reflect Christ the King of Peace, and he wanted to make sure his reign always embraced compassion.  

“His duties as king were rooted in his faith and that showed itself in the way in which he governed.” 

Archbishop Aymond said the French king came to mind while reflecting on the Scripture readings Edwards and his wife, Donna, chose for the Mass. The archbishop said it was apparent from the chosen Scriptures that Edwards approaches leadership in the same way as King Louis IX the only French King to be canonized.  

governor's mass photo 1.tif

Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, sits with his wife Donna during the Louisiana Governor’s Mass celebrated Jan. 13 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge. 

 

“The governor says he is committed in word and action to peace, justice, equality, charity and mercy,” Archbishop Aymond said. “(Edwards) reminds us our actions and words must be a shining light in Louisiana and beyond.  

“The governor says he is committed in word and action to peace, justice, equality, charity and mercy.” 

He added that Edwards invites all Louisiana residents to join him in using “our lives in words and actions, to reach out to those are very different from us and with whom we have nothing in common.”  

“They are our neighbor,” Archbishop Aymond said, adding that “our neighbors” include the hungry, the sick, the injured, the poor, children in need, those hurt by racism, the immigrants and those who are living on the margin of society.  

Through the words of the Scripture chosen by Edwards, Archbishop Aymond said “we know through (the governor’s) heart that you will recognize the dignity of every person and to respect them,” the archbishop said. “Your promise to foster unity at a time when our world is divided is a very important example to call us to be one in this state. And you invite us to be a light in a world that is sometimes overcome by darkness.”  

Archbishop Aymond acknowledged the challenges awaiting the governor. The archbishop asked God to give Edwards “the patience to listen, the wisdom to act and the humility to allow God to lead him in everything that he does and in every decision he makes.”  

Archbishop Aymond said every leader has to be a good follower and added he knows Edwards will be a follower of Jesus. He called Edwards a man of peace, justice and unity. 

“May you always remember that the hand of God is upon you every day,” Archbishop Aymond said. “Follow him.” 

Bishop Michael G. Duca welcomed the congregation and gave his thanks for all citizens in the “great state of Louisiana.” 

governor's mass photo 4.tif

Gov. John Bel Edwards greets family members during the sign of peace.