The Archdiocese of New Orleans is on a fact-finding mission of sorts for the first time since the 1980s. It's called a synod - a gathering of people of God to pray and have discussion. Church leaders say it gives parishioners a voice to express what they want in the church.
"We're asking God to enlighten us," said Archbishop Gregory Aymond. "We're asking three questions: What are we doing well, what are we doing but can do better, and thirdly, what are we are not doing that God would expect us to do to build up the church?"
The synod opened during Holy Week in April at a Chrism Mass. It's only the ninth synod in 221 years. The archbishop has had consultation sessions with 17 large groups over the past few months. Those groups included clergy, religious laity,young adults, the elderly and the Hispanic community.
More than 3,000 people attended the sessions. The archbishop says there were concerns about the issues of evangelization, family, life and even annulments. Pope Francis is holding his own synod in Rome in the next few weeks with a focus on the family.
"How do we deal with divorce, same-sex marriage keeps coming up as a question in our society," Aymond asked. "How do we as a church address that?"
One church-goer outside St. Patrick's said the Pope seems to be trying to be more inclusive.
"He seems to be trying to go back to the roots of the church," the man said.
Aymond says area Catholics sometimes ask for changes the Archdiocese can't fulfill.
"Some of the things suggested we can easily do. I can make a decision and make it happen," Aymond said.
He says improvement in the Archdiocese could be made as early as May from information from focus groups.