St. James Catholic Church marking anniversary of first Mass said in state

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / February 27, 1999

ST. JAMES – St. James Catholic Church will host a milestone in Louisianahistory on March 3 when Mass is celebrated at 7 p.m.It will be the 300th anniversary of the first Catholic Mass in Louisiana.

Father Anastase Donay, a missionary traveling with French explorers Iberville and Bienville, offered the first documented Mass on Louisiana soil. Three hundred years later the Rev. Louis Oubre will celebrate Mass toobserve the anniversary.

While the exact site of that first Mass has never been determined by historians, St. James Catholic Church, as part of the preparation for theCongres Mondial Acadien observances this year, is hosting this observance and a reception to follow.

At the same time, church coordinator Pamela Folse, herself a published author of children’s fiction, has prepared a 20-page book titled “St. JamesCatholic Church: Remembering Our Story.”The slender volume will be offered for sale at the March 3 celebration for $5 each and include a wealth of information, historical photographs and a perspective on the church’s place in Louisiana history, much of which has never before been published.

The Congres Mondial Acadien will celebrate, on Aug. 8, a re-enactment ofthe first Acadian landing in Louisiana and an outdoor French-language Mass.

Separate timelines of secular and church history charting the progress of Louisiana’s development are included, as well as an article on the historic church cemetery, prominent citizens of the past, the influence of African- Americans on the church and plans for the new millennium.

Back on New Year’s Eve 1998, the front doors of St. James Catholic Churchwere symbolically closed in preparation for a grand re-opening on Jan. 1,2000, to launch the church’s Jubilee Year.

Folse noted, “We were very fortunate at St. James Church over the yearsto have local historians work on the history of our church.” Old newspaper articles and historical photographs have found their way into church archives, including the photos of Johnny Harmon, 87, of Vacherie, who recorded countless events at the church for decades. Now anailing resident at Carville, Harmond donated stacks of 8×10 reproductions of these events.

The church, originally founded in 1770 (the present building dates from 1929) and located on River Road in the tiny community of St. James, drawsvisitors on a regular basis. The booklet will add to their appreciation oflocal history.

“Hopefully, by publishing this book, we will produce something everybody at St. James Church can be proud of,” Folse said.

Back to Top

Back to Leisure Headlines

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

Internet services provided by NeoSoft.

Best viewed with 3.0 or higher