For nearly ten years Fr. Tony Rigoli, O.M.I. has been working to improve the lives of the poor in New Orleans.
Father Tony is pastor at the International Shrine of St. Jude. The Shrine has two identities. It is a landmark in the French Quarter that attracts tourists from around the world. But it is also a lifeline to New Orleans’ poor, people who struggle with poverty and other hardships.
“I can’t fix it all. I can only do what I can, and maybe it will provide a little hope for some people,” said Fr. Tony. “This is truly Oblate work here because we are caring for the most abandoned.”
Father Tony has been a member of the Oblate family all his life. He grew up in the Oblates’ Holy Angels Parish in Buffalo, New York and was ordained a priest in May, 1972. He worked in a variety of parishes throughout the East and Midwest as well as serving as Vocation Director for five years. In 2002 he was assigned to the Shrine of St. Jude in New Orleans.
Father Tony likes the diversity of people who come by the Shrine. Some are tourists who want to visit the oldest church building in New Orleans, dating back to 1826. Occasionally there are celebrities like Grammy-winning singer Aaron Neville who credits the Shrine, and the Oblates, for getting his life back in order.
But most often the people who visit Fr. Tony are those in need of help. They include the homeless man who needs a place to stay, the pregnant woman who needs to see a doctor or the elderly lady who just needs someone to talk to about her difficulties.
To help the needy Fr. Tony oversees the St. Jude Community Center. The center includes a homeless shelter for women and serves about 5,000 hot meals a month to the poor. In addition, each week about 400 food baskets are distributed to the needy. The center also has a very active GED program.
“Everywhere you look, there’s another story. Everywhere you look there is someone else in need,” said Fr. Tony. “I thank God for all of the support we’ve received and I know we will need His help as we continue.”
To learn more about the work of the Oblates at St. Jude Shrine, visit www.judeshrine.com