History of St. Rose de Lima Parish Church

In the 1850’s, families who lived in the area that was the site of the Gueno Plantation requested to have a church parish established.  In 1857, Archbishop Blanc granted their petition and set up a parish under the guidance of Reverend Claude Pascal Maistre. A small church was set up on Bayou St. John and a short time later it was moved to Mystery Street.

A short time later, the new parish was given a piece of land on the Bayou Road by Dame Magdalen Guenot., widow of James Joseph Buss. It was on this ground that Fr. Maeistre built the first wood frame church of St. Rose de Lima.  Father Maistre was succeeded by Rev. J. Charles E.M. Ferec, who served until 1866 and then by the Very Rev. Francis Canon Mittelbronne.

By 1864, the small frame church had become too small. Father Mittelbronne proposed a more artistic and elaborate church, and in 1880, the new church was dedicated. According to records of the period, it contained paintings, artwork and statues of great beauty.  Father Mittelbronne remained at the new St.Rose de Lima Parish until 1896 when he was succeeded by the Very Rev. Canon Alphonse Janssens.

On the afternoon of Friday, October 24, 1913, a terrible fire destroyed the church and all of the artwork contained therein.  The parish rallied around their pastor, now the Right Rev. Monsignor Janssens, to build a new church. In 1915, a new steel and brick church, of Tudor Gothic design, was completed. The interior of the new church, while impressive, lacked the decorations that the people of the parish desired. Msgr. Janssens labored through the years to pay down the huge debt, and the ambition of the parish, to have beautiful paintings and murals in the church, was not realized at the time of Father Janssen’s retirement from the ministry.

In 1939, Archbishop Rummel announced the appointment of the Rt.Rev. Msgr. Edward Prendergast as pastor. Under the stewardship of Msgr. Prendergast, the church would realize it’s dream of further beautification. Plans were delayed with the onset of World War II, however Msgr. Prendergast did manage to pay down the debt of the church and school, and in 1948, he received the approval of the Archbishop to complete the interior decorations so desired by the Parish.  Promising to make St.Rose one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese, Prendergast oversaw a mammoth project that fulfilled the expectations of his flock.

Saint Rose Parish flourished through the Prendergast years. The beautiful church was attended by many business and professional people who saw to its continuing support. St. Rose had, to its credit, a wonderful music ministry under the direction of long-time organist Hilda Caboche who played the beautiful Gottfried pipe organ that had been installed when the present church was built.  The school prospered under the operation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Although St.Rose de Lima Parish has suffered some loss of support due to suburban migration of the 1960’s, the parish is still viable, and Masses are well attended even today.


Very Special Thanks to John and Kathleen DeMajo for allowing us to use the history and photos of the church.  For more Churches of New Orleans, please visit them at: www.neworleanschurches.com