The Rev. William F. Maestri is a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Ordained in 1977, the vast majority of his priestly ministry has been, and remains, in the fields of education and media communication. His teaching experience includes various faculty positions in elementary, secondary, university and professional schools. Within the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Father Maestri has served as Superintendent of Catholic Schools as well as Director of Communications. He served in both of these roles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and during the immediate rebuilding of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He authored The Archdiocese of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina: A Story of Hope in a Time of Destruction, published five years after the devastating storm. The book details the Church’s role in responding to the storm and contains more than 300 photos and several personal stories of those who lived through the challenging days, months, and years to follow. The book explores the inner workings and decision-making processes of the Archdiocese as Catholic leadership struggled with reopening Catholic schools, which served 43,000 students, and churches.
Relating to Father Maestri’s education and communications ministry are some 40 books and 12 audio-visual programs he has authored. He has been honored twice by the Catholic Press Association for excellence in General Commentary with a First Place Award for “Best Campaign in the Public Interest/Parental Choice in Education.” His weekly columns for The Clarion-Herald, a Catholic journal published in New Orleans, covered a broad range of issues and themes, both secular and religious. Of special interest to Father Maestri is the interface of faith with social culture and politics, especially the public role of religion within the public square. A diocesan priest, Father Maestri is a member of the Clergy serving the Parish of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France. He is director of the recently created outreach mission of the Archdiocese and Cathedral, the Bishop Perry Center, which has a combined ministry of providing spiritual, material, medical, and educational services to the disadvantaged of downtown New Orleans neighborhoods and is concurrently a cultural center for these neighborhoods.
The Center recently opened a new public lending library and kicked off a pilot program, Project HOPE, designed to remove stumbling blocks to learning by addressing hearing, sight, basic medical, and mental issues with screenings and follow-up care free to students in four urban elementary schools. Father Maestri, who serves Mass regularly at St. Louis Cathedral, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and at the Bishop Perry Center, is popular for his homilies which illuminate the teachings of Christianity with episodes from 21st Century life to bring each message into sharp focus for today’s congregations.