Situated in the historic Bywater Neighborhood our parish parallels some of the richest history in the development of New Orleans. It is the third parish in New Orleans following St. Louis (Cathedral) and St. Patrick’s, and we are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cornerstone was laid in 1866, and the main building was completed soon afterwards.
Following the Great Storm of 1915, the columns and very familiar clock tower were added. Our current parish of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos was named in 2001 combining the congregations of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Cecilia, Annunciation, Saints Peter and Paul, and St. Gerard, a personal parish for the hearing impaired. In 2003, a fire destroyed the parish’s original pipe organ, and Hurricane Katrina left its mark in 2005. Subsequently, repairs were made and a replacement organ was donated and installed in 2007.
Presently, the church is a beacon in the Bywater area with more than 20 ministries representing this diverse community and its needs. The ministries serve through outreach program for religious studies, prayer groups and faith awareness. Additionally, the adjacent Gerard Center, formerly housing the Convent for the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, now stands as the only facility serving the spiritual needs for deaf and hearing impaired community throughout Metropolitan New Orleans.
Our 150th Anniversary is quickly approaching! Celebratory events are being organized and scheduled. We are putting the finishing touches on a new book of the church’s history, including the building’s architecture, from its development to the present which will be presented at our Anniversary’s opening banquet on November 14, 2015. Archbishop Aymond will honor our occasion by celebrating our anniversary mass on April 23, 2016. And we plan to open our time capsule, placed 50 years ago on the church’s 100th anniversary to be opened on its 150th anniversary. Our Time capsule opening on November 12, 2016 will be the culmination of our celebratory events.
We hope to honor this significant milestone by placing our best foot forward! But at this time in its long history, the church and its campus consist of very old structures which, in spite of ongoing maintenance and previous restoration efforts, require significant rehabilitation.
While we are so rich in faith, culture and history, our financial condition doesn’t allow our community to undertake these activities alone. We have organized a fund raising drive to help us meet the costs of the celebration and the necessary rehabilitation of our church and campus, but we need the generosity of Community Businesses and Individuals to help us reach our goal..
Please look at our brochure which details more of our church parish and its long, storied life. Please consider being part of our Historic 150th Anniversary and contribute to the preservation of this cultural gem. . Your financial support will be greatly appreciated while it honors and preserves such an important asset to our community. (link to brochure)
May the Lord shower you with His blessings. Thank you for your time and attention.
Very Rev. Jose I. Lavastida, S.T.D., Pastor