Pastor, chaplain, athlete … and attorney
New Orleans chaplain FATHER ANDREW TAOMINA is multi-skilled and multi-talented . . .
Fr. Andrew Taormina
New Orleans Chapter
In addition to serving as pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Metairie, Fr. Andrew Taormina is one of three co-chaplains for the Legatus’ New Orleans Chapter. Ordained at his hometown parish of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in 1962 by Bishop Louis Caillouet, “Father T” also has the unique distinction of having earned a law degree. For over 20 years, he practiced criminal law and also served as chairman for the local civil parish’s Indigent Defense Board. He spoke to Legatus’ editorial assistant Tim Drake.
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in New Orleans. My parents were second-generation Sicilians. My father worked in the family wholesale grocery business with his father and brothers. We also had a spaghetti factory. The business opened in 1913 and closed in 1969 when my grandfather and father passed away, and the supermarkets took over most of the local grocery store business. I have one brother who is three years older.
What led you to consider the priesthood?
I’m a lifelong Catholic. I was led to consider the priesthood through the example of my parish priest, and just what appeared to be a very interesting life that helped other people.
The highlight of my priesthood is every day, in servicing the people in so many different ways: at Mass, in the confessional, in giving advice, in running the school, in handling the finances of the parish, etc. There are no dull moments.
How did you first become acquainted with Legatus?
Co-chaplain Fr. Joseph Doyle made one of my parishioners, Joe Canizaro, aware of the organization, and he invited me to look into it. When it was established and Fr. Joe became the organization’s first president he invited me to be one of the chaplains.
There are so many family and corporate businesses in the New Orleans area that are headed by Catholics. For so long this was unknown or not publicized. Legatus has made us aware of this and invited these leaders to join.
What advice do you have for Catholic business leaders?
My advice would be: Don’t be hypocrites by pretending to be “good Catholics” while at the same time running your business in an insensitive manner by thinking only of the bottom line and not showing interest and in helping employees with their problems and health.
Outside of the priesthood, what activities do you enjoy?
I enjoy golfing and dabbling in the law, since I also have a law degree and am a member of the local bar association. After ordination, I was working in a black parish on various committees that dealt with the Model Cities Program, an anti-poverty program put into effect under President Lyndon Johnson.
As the pastor, I sat on the board and we had umpteen things thrown at us by bureaucrats to vote on that we didn’t know anything about. So, I went to school at night at Loyola University and obtained my law degree. I found it very helpful. I practiced criminal law and was involved in a couple hundred cases over the course of about 20 years.
I no longer have time to go to court. When I started, you could go to court at 9 a.m. and be home by noon. Today, you go at 9 a.m. and are home at 5 p.m. It’s difficult to tell a family you can’t bury someone because you have to go to court.
Tell me something that most people wouldn’t know about you upon first meeting you?
I’m a pretty good athlete in spite of being only 5’ 4” tall. I played a lot of CYO ball — football, basketball, and softball — and was pretty good in most of them.