Hundreds turn out for final farewell to Fr. Michael Jacques - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds turn out for final farewell to Fr. Michael Jacques

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The coffin of Fr. Michael Jacques is carried out of St. Peter Claver Church. The coffin of Fr. Michael Jacques is carried out of St. Peter Claver Church.

New Orleans, La.—Hundreds gathered in the historic Treme neighborhood for a final farewell to beloved priest and pastor, Father Michael Jacques.

An overflow crowd which included Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and other city officials, packed the funeral mass at Saint Peter Claver Catholic Church, the church Father Jacques pastured for nearly three decades.

"From a human point of view we would say that he was too young to die, that he had much more to do for this parish, for our Archdiocese," said Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

Father Jacques died unexpectedly from a heart attack on June 7th.

"In terms of Michael's earthly journey as a disciple, as a priest, as your servant and brother the Lord has called him home," the archbishop said during the funeral mass.

Jacques was a shepherd to thousands in the Treme community, nurturing, teaching, and comforting many.

"Was a true servant, a servant to the community and to many people in this area," said Stephen Monette, a parishioner at St. Peter Claver.

"Father Michael knew everyone by name. There are over 2500 families in this parish, he knew every single parishioner's name, he knew their children, he knew all about their family," said Dixie Faciane who sings in the church's choir.

"Father Michael buried both my grandfather, my grandmother, he ate gumbo at my grandmother's house, he was a great man, a wonderful man," stated Monette.

"He believed in the community, he loved the children, he said if you start with the children and you raise them up , and then they'll be here to do good in the community," said Dionne Simmons.

For Leah Chase, the renowned chef whose restaurant is near the church, Father Jacques was a pastor to cherish.

"Father Jacques built this parish and he made us feel our worth," she said.

And parishioners said not only did Father Jacques love the community's culture, he made it his own.

"He totally did. He was very Afro-centric, inside of his house there's very many African pieces of art, he constantly celebrated the Treme community," said Faciane.

"He just immersed in St. Peter Claver, in Treme, in New Orleans, he was definitely of and from this community of New Orleans, he loved it," said Edward Gray, another parishioner.

And with his coffin carried out of the church on the shoulders of parishioners, hundreds packed the street, remembering Father Jacques broad reach.

"We started crime initiatives, we sat on boards together, so he wasn't someone just did it from the pulpit, he did it from the streets also," said former New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass who grew up in Treme.

Mayor Landrieu said Father Jacques will be sorely missed and is contributions were immeasurable.

And as members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club and a jazz band led the way, Father Jacques was given a true New Orleans sendoff.

"Now I just hope we have the strength to keep it going, to build on what he started and what he built," said Leah Chase.

Father Jacques will be buried in Selma, Alabama on Monday.

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