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Early Catholic Church Parishes in Louisiana



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 Church
The 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.

St. Louis Cathedral and New Orleans in 1726
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.
St. Louis Cathedral in 2002
I took this picture of St. Louis Cathedral in February 2002.

A Table of Early Catholic Parishes, where and when.


PlaceParishEstablishedComments
Old Biloxi (Ocean Springs), MS. 1699A small military fort.
Mobile, AL 1703 
Natchez, MS 1716 
Robeline 1717 
New OrleansSt. Louis Church1720First permanent church on the site completed in 1727. In 1788, St. Louis Church was destroyed by fire. A new church was completed and put in use in 1794, thanks to the generous donation of Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas (who is buried in the church). At this time the church was raised to the level of "Cathedral."
La Balize (near the mouth of the Mississippi, Plaquemines Parish) 1722 
German Coast (Destrehan)Little Red Church1723later, St. Charles Borromeo
Pointe Coupee 1728 
Natchitoches 1728 
Chapitoulas (Metairie) 1729 
St. JamesSt. James1767 
St. GabrielSt. Gabriel the Archangel1769 
EdgardSt. John the Baptist1772 
DonaldsonvilleAscension of Our Lord1772 
St. Bernard Parish 1787 
Baton RougeSt. Joseph1792 
PlattenvilleAssumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary1793 
CloutiervilleSt. Paul the Apostle1796 
IndependenceMater Dolorosa1803 
ConventSt. Michael the Archangel1812 
MansuraSt. John the Baptist1816 
ThibodauxSt. Joseph1817 
MorganzaSt. Ann1826 
CamptiNativity of Blessed Virgin Mary1831 
Grand Coteau ca 1830-1833 
Vermillionville (Lafayette) ca 1830-1833 
New OrleansSt. Patrick18331975- Designated a National Historic Landmark.
BruslySt. John the Baptist1835 
AlexandriaSt. Francis Xavier Cathedral1834 
PaincourtvilleSt. Elizabeth1840 
New OrleansSt. Joseph Church1844 
CharentonImmaculate Conception1844 
Ville PlatteSacred Heart1845 
HoumaCathedral of St. Francis de Sales1847 
LabadievilleSt. Philomena1847 
SchrieverSt. Lawrence1848 
French SettlementSt. Joseph1849 
LockportHoly Savior1850 
RacelandSt. Mary's Nativity1850 
PlaquemineSt. John the Evangelist1850 
Isle Brevelle (Natchez) St. Augustine1856 
Pierre Part St. Joseph the Worker1858 
Morgan City Sacred Heart1859 
Lakeland Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin1859 
Lecompte St. Martin1860 
Moreauville Sacred Heart1860 
BurasOur Lady of Good Harborca 1861-1865 
ReserveSt. Peterca 1861-1865 
MontegutSacred Heart1864 
New RoadsSt. Mary of False River1865 
New OrleansSt. Francis de Salesca 1867 
AmiteSt. Helena1868 
MarksvilleSt. Joseph1869 
New OrleansOur Lady of Sacred Heartca 1870-1888 
KennerOur Lady of Perpetual Hopeca 1870-1888 
Abita SpringsSt. Jane de Chantalca 1870-1888 
NapoleanvilleSt. Anne1874 
St. FrancisvilleOur Lady of Mount Carmel1874 
PonchatoulaSt. Joseph1875 
Taft (Hahnville)Our Lady of the Holy Rosaryca 1877 
New OrleansSacred Heart of Jesus1879 
Bayou BlackSt. Anthony of Padua1873 
VacherieSt. Philip1873 
TheriotSt. Eloi1875 
LaroseOur Lady of the Rosary1876 
VacherieOur Lady of Peace1877 
DevilleSt. John the Baptist1879 
PlauchevilleMater Dolorosa1879 
BroussardSacred Heart1883 
Smoke Bend (Donaldsonville)St. Francis of Assisi1884 
VidaliaOur Lady of Lourdes1887 
New OrleansOur Lady of Good Counsel1887 
CottonportSt. Mary's Assumption1889 
New OrleansSt. Francis of Assisi (on Ursulines St.)1889-1893Replaced in 1918 by St. Mary's
New OrleansSt. Anthony (on Rampart St.)1889-1893Replaced in 1918 by St. Mary's
New OrleansHoly Name of Jesus1892 
ChackbayOur Lady of Prompt Succor1892 
EchoSt. Francis de Sales1894 
New OrleansSt. Catherine's (on Tulane)1895designated for those of African descent
ColfaxSt. Joseph1897 
HessmerSt. Alphonsus1898 
White CastleOur Lady of Prompt Succor1899 


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