(nola.com) With storm clouds clearing across the French Quarter, St, Louis Cathedral filled with a who’s who of New Orleans civic life for an 8:30 a.m. interfaith service preceding the inauguration later this morning of Mitch Landrieu as the city’s 70th mayor.
Leading a procession into the packed cathdral was the Landrieu’s youngest son, Will, bearing a Louisiana state flag. The new mayor, with is wife Cheryl, entered last in a procession of the dozen municipal officials, including the seven City Council members, set to be sworn in during a 10 a.m. ceremony at Gallier Hall.
Also in the procession were more than 25 local ministers, including Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Rabbi Edward Cohn of Temple Sinai, the Rev. David Crosby of First Baptist Church, the Rev. Paul Morton of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, the Rev. Fred Luter of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Bishop-elect Morris Thompson of the local Episcopal Diocese, the Rev. Michael Jacques of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church and the Rev. Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University.
In a hint of the past, the Greater St. Stephen Full Baptist Choir performed a song featured in Mayor Ray Nagin’s last State of the City address, “I Need You to Survive,” a soulful piece that conjures memories of Hurricane Katrina. The choir also performed the Negro spiritual “Oh, Happy Day!”
In his homily, Aymond called those gathered to support Landrieu in his efforts to lead New Orleans. “We pledge and we pray to continue to forge one team, one family in this great city,” he said, a nod to Landrieu’s campaign and transition slogan: “One team. One fight. One voice. One city.”
The archbishop also reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he said Landrieu and his wife chose for the service, noting that Landrieu will “take on the spirit of the Good Samaritan” through his service as mayor.
“History will write that they need God to be good leaders and that we have come here to ask for God’s blessings on our city,” he said.
Among those in the congregation were former Mayor Moon Landrieu and his wife Verna, the new mayor’s parents; former Gov. Kathlenn Blanco and her husband, Raymond; husband-and-wife political consultants Mary Matalin and James Carville; former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy and his wife, Mickey; Sybil Morial and Jacques Morial, the mother and brother of former Mayor Marc Morial; Don Hubbard, longtime leader of the SOUL political organization; civic activists Anne and King Milling; and developer Darryl Berger.
By 9:05 a.m., Landrieu, along with his large family, were exiting the Cathedral to a shower of applause and headed – along with dignitaries and the local news media – about a mile down the road to Gallier Hall, where Landrieu will take his oath of office. Also sworn in will be the seven City Council members, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Civil Court Clerk Dale Atkins, Criminal Court Clerk Arthur Morrell and Coroner Frank Minyard.