“It is our collective prayer that through the Mercy of God, our beloved Fr. Weiss is now resting with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.”


Fr Peter Weiss, SSJ, a pastor in New Orleans and educator at St Augustine High School, has died at the age of 70. Multiple sources have confirmed that the priest took his own life.

The pastor of All Saints Catholic Church since 2014, Weiss recently celebrated 42 years as a priest in the Society of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (also known as the Josephites), the nation’s only male religious community founded to serve African Americans.

He was found dead at the parish on Wednesday morning.

“The St. Augustine High School community is devastated by the news of the passing,” said campus minister Fr Rodney “Tony” Ricard in a statement released by the school that evening, and later reposted on the Josephites’ Facebook page.

“It is our collective prayer that through the Mercy of God, our beloved Fr. Weiss is now resting with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Weiss was a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and the Washington Theological Union, and was ordained for the Josephites in 1979. He later served throughout the society’s geographical footprint, including in Alabama, Texas, Washington DC, and Louisiana. He was also formerly the Josephites’ vocations director.

Weiss first arrived at St Augustine High in 1991, joining the faculty of the historic Black Catholic school founded by the Josephites in 1951. Shortly thereafter, he also began his first stint as pastor of All Saints.

After a number of years away following Hurricane Katrina, he returned to the parish and school in 2014.

During his time at St Augustine, he taught theology and was also at one point director of the color guard for the Marching 100, the school’s historic student band. He was the group’s chaplain for more than 16 years prior to his death.

He began service as the school’s chief religious officer in August 2020, supervising the St Augustine campus ministry and serving as “the direct link” between the school and the Josephite society.

In that role, he also led the students’ annual trip north for a tour of the Underground Railroad, which in prior years also involved a culminating visit to Washington DC for the March for Life. This year’s trip was scheduled to occur in the coming weeks.

Read more. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him …

We have heard about several priests who have died by suicide over the last several months. 

A 2020 article on suicide among clergy noted:

Dr. Melinda Moore is a Licensed Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University and has studied Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS).

Moore told CNA that suicide prevention steps are incredibly important. She pointed to studies that show how a single individual’s suicide can have a devastating effect that ripples throughout the community.

“We’ve got 48,000 Americans who are dying by suicide every year. … [These are] Americans who are killing themselves and leaving entire families, networks, communities devastated by their deaths. We know that for every person who dies by suicide, there are 135 people exposed. Out of those 135, forty-eight people will be seriously impacted by the death.”

“What we know is these people who are impacted significantly, they have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and another study showed suicide attempt. So not only are these 40,000 Americans killing themselves every year, they’re leaving all this collateral damage that amounts to over 2 million people every year,” she said.

Suicide among priests, and pastors of other Christian denominations, occurs more commonly than expected, Moore said. However, she said religious leaders often face stigmas about seeking psychological help.

“Priests are no different from the rest of us. The difference is that priests and other clergy oftentimes are idealized and held to a standard where they feel like they can’t ask for help. They are the individuals that other people come to for help, and so they themselves feel like they can’t seek help.”

Moore said suicide is not always tied to mental illness. But she said people who commit suicide often encounter three feelings – not belonging, being a burden to others, and the sense that that could carry out lethal self-harm.

Please: pray for our priests. May they know God’s comforting presence and find consolation, help and support when they need it most.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.

Related: When a deacon’s daughter dies by suicide