What do early Catholic church parishes have to do with my genealogy? I'm glad you asked.
The only religion allowed by the French government was Catholic. People had to sign papers stating that they were Catholics before being allowed aboard the ships carrying the immigrants to the new world. In the colony, there were stiff penalties for refusing the Catholic religion. Marriages performed outside of the Catholic Church were invalid, the children illegitimate. Children not given Catholic baptisms were not considered people and their births were not recorded. The latter, because the church was the recording agency of births, deaths, marriages for the government at the time.
Consequently, most of my ancestors in Louisiana were Catholic. They had their children baptized in the church, they got married in the church. Presumably they sometimes went to Sunday Mass.
Plaquemines parish is about 100 miles long. There was a church at Balize, near the very bottom of the parish, and the only other church was all the way in New Orleans. Either one can be a long ride for a family, and for a small child.
How long did it take to go 30, 40, 50 miles in a wagon? And back home again? Automobiles weren't around until well into the 1900's. I don't know of any rules regarding how long after birth a family had to baptize their children in Louisiana, but I have read stories of other places where families have lied about birth dates because of time restrictions regarding baptisms, and the hardship of getting the infant to the church. When they got the child to the church, they would say what was necessary to qualify for the sacrament.
I wonder if priests traveled at intervals performing ceremonies and masses? Or was everything always done at the church? I've read a little bit here and there that they did.
"Until 1822, the present civil parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne was the mission territory of the priests of the Assumption church in Plattenville. Mass was celebrated in private homes of the area." The Acadians and the Catholic ChurchThe availability of the Catholic churches was certainly relevant to my ancestors and their way of life. Fortunately, the church believes it a sacred duty to maintain records.
The first parish church of St. Louis on the site of the present Basilica.
Image copied from the book The Basilica on Jackson Square referenced below.
I took this picture of St. Louis Cathedral in February 2002.