|"Building Faith Community in the Resurrection, One Mind and One Heart"|
Milton A. Broussard
Mrs. Earline M. Collins
John C. Dominique
Mrs. Helen L. Harrison
Mrs.Elizabeth R. Harris
Sanders Butler III
John A. Reedom
Ms Onetta Viltz
Mrs.Anna Mae Mouton
Mrs. Clara L. Bijou
Mrs. Dorothy Isaac
Mrs. Sandra C. Antoine
Mrs. Delores A. Raymond
Mrs. Sheila C. Hall
Mrs. Rita Leblanc
Mrs. Doris S. Allen
Mrs. Audry Brown
Mrs. Mary Ann B. Boutte
Ms. Dorothy Reedom
Ms. Frances Reedom
Mrs. Sandra Jefferson
Ms. Jackie Reedom
Souvenir Booklet Committee
Ms. Jackie Reedom
John A. Reedom
Sanders Butler III
St. Edward Parish Council
Rev. Thomas James, S.V.D.
Rev. Malcolm O'Leary
Sister Michelle Callanan S.B.S.
John A. Reedom
Mrs. Helen L. Harrison
James Russell, Jr.
Mrs. Lydia Sayrie
Mrs. Sandra Antoine
Mrs. Yvonne Jolivette
Mrs. Helen A. Polk
Mrs. Earline Collins
Milton A. Broussard
Mrs. Shirley Simon
Mrs. Sandra C. Antoine
Mrs. Mary Ann B. Boutte
Mrs. Lydia Sayrie
James Russell, Jr.
John C. Dominique
Director of Religious Education:
Mrs. Elizabeth R. Harris
CCD Coordinator, K-6th Grades:
Mrs. Doris Richard
Ms. Cathy Jones
Mrs. Martha B. Delahoussaye
St. Edward Church Committees
Youth Night Committee
Mrs. Elizabeth R. Harris
Family Day Committee
Mrs. Helen L. Harrison
Mrs. Doris S. Allen
John C. Dominique
Parish Parade Committee
Anniversary T-Shirt Committee
Mrs. Sheila C. Hall
Ms. Sandra Jefferson
Gospel Extravaganza Committee
St. Edward Angelic Choir:
John A. Reedom
7 A.M. Mass Choir:
Finance & Budget Committee
Mrs. Earline M. Collins
Rev. Thomas James, S.V.D.
Milton A. Broussard
Mrs. Helen L. Harrison
Ms. Jackie Reedom
Venice J. James
Jo Ann James
Mr. and Mrs. Nolan Broussard
Mrs. Nina DeRouen
Mr. Terry DeRouen
Lloyd and Marian Babineaux
Mrs. Mildred Green
Mr. and Mrs. Whitney Roy and Leo
Mrs. Vera Lee Morgan
Mr. and Mrs. Weston Mitchell
Dr. J.F. Broussard
Mrs. Rosa Birdeaux
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Henry
Mr. and Mrs. Perry Coleman & Son
Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Allen & Children
Delma H. Johnson
J.E. and Karen Davis
Sheila C., Renaldo, Sr., Shana and Renaldo Hall, JJ
Dorothy P. Joseph
Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Barideaux, Sr.
Mrs. Ida Mae Birdeaux
Mrs. Ruth V. Bastian
Mr. and Mrs. Milton Broussard $ Carmelita
Myrtle and John Dominique & Family
In Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Williams
In memory of Esther Mitchell
In memory of Ulyesse and Oneta Jackson
In memory of Nettie and Villery Jackson
In memory of Mildred and Hilman Mouton
In memory of Edward Bryant, Sr.
In memory of Lillie Mea Roy
In memory of Gloria Williams
Valene. Terrell and Brittni Mouton
Dorothy V. Babineaux
Alma Johnson Family Memorial
Mr. and Mrs. James L. Jolivet & Family
Mrs. Ledanna Kennedy & mary Ann
Mr. and Mrs. Murphy Henry & Belinda
Mr. and Mrs. Luther H. Branham, Jr. & Family
Mr. and Mrs. Williard Brooks
Betty Lou Reedom
Arnauld, Regina. Archivist of the Diocese of Lafayette. "Diocesan Collection."
Baudier, Sr., Roger. Official Chronicler, Archdiocese of New Orleans. "A Historical Sketch of the Church Parish of St. Peter's of New Iberia 1863-1953." Compiled June of 1953, in commemoration of the dedication of the new church of St. Peter in New Iberia, La., at the direction of the Rev. Albert Bacque.
Bergerie, Maurine. They Tasted bayou Water, Edward Brothers Publishing Co., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1980.
Callanan, Sister Michelle. "Historical Information from the Mother House of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament."
Conrad, Glen R. "New Iberia Essays on the Town and Its People." Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, La., 1979.
Diggs, Margaret A. Catholic Negro Education in the United States, Standard Printing and Lithographing Co., Houston, Texas, 1936.
Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book of St. Edward's Parish, New Iberia, La., 1968.
Nolan, Charles E. Bayou Carmel, Edward Brothers Publishing Co., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977.
Our '75th Anniversary Souvenir Book' is dedicated to Father John Dauphine, born July 26, 1910, who now resides in New Orleans. Father Dauphine, the first African American commissioned to serve as a missionary in Africa, began his missionary works in Ghana in 1939 as a Divine Word Missionary Priest. He has served as associate pastor to area churches throughout his years, including Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Joseph Church, St. Benedict the Moore, Notre Dame, and our St. Edward Church.
It is with Great pleasure that we acknowledge
under whose direction, our Faith Community at St. Edward Church continues to grow.
St. Edward has served as a center for Social activity, and many fond memories are held. We pay special tribute to
Both of them are buried in the St. Edward Cemetery.
We also acknowledge
Special acknowledgement goes to
Through her dedication, diligence and patience, this Anniversary Souvenir Book became reality.
Diocese of Lafayette
Office of the Bishop
November 15, 1992
The Reverend Thomas A. James, SVD, Pastor
Dear Father James and the Good Parishioners, St. Edward's Church:
It has come to my attention that you will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the foundation of your parish on November 15, 1992. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be with you on that occasion because of a prior engagement with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C. However, I do want to greet you and salute you.
Interestingly enough, St. Edward's parish was founded prior to the establishment of the Diocese of Lafayette. For these past 75 years, God has been very good to you. Your parish can boast of a school which is outstanding in every way. St. Edward's has become, in the best sense of the word, a true community of believers who not only encourage and nurture the faith of those within the parish but those outside the parish.
I am most grateful to God for the many, many blessings that He has given to all of you in these past 75 years. I thank God for the strong leadership of Father James and the priests and Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who serve you. I ask God's continued blessing on each one of you as you continue to grow toward your centennial celebration.
With every good wish, I remain
Sincerely in the Lord,
+Harry J. Flynn
Sisters of the Blessed
July 15, 1992
Rev. Thomas James, SVD
Dear Father James:
I am very happy to offer in the name of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament our sincere congratulations to you and the people of St. Edward Parish on the occasion of your Seventy-Fifth Anniversary. May your celebration be days of love, peace and joy for all!
Through the prayers, the hard work, the efforts and sacrifices of the devoted parishioners, the SVD Fathers and those of us who have been privileged to work with you at St. Edward, God has certainly blessed your parish with an abundance of grace, both material and spiritual.
May God grant that your parish remain close to His Loving Heart and continue to grow in the faith, hope and love that will spread out to enrich the lives of all God's people.
Prayerfully, in our Eucharistic Lord,
Sr. Marie McGuigan, SBS
St. Edward Church
August 18, 1992
To the parishioners:
According to the original documents, November 17th, 1992 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of St. Edward's Catholic Church. Today, we have come to give thanks for seventy-five years of faith which was entrusted to us to be a sign of truth in the world. To celebrate God's goodness.
Today, we are a grateful community. Grateful because we have seen and experienced fruits from our faith and also, the blessings and the goodness of God.
Throughout our History in America, we have struggled and have been challenged. In spite of this, we have kept the Faith entrusted to us to keep alive and express in our daily lives in relationship to one another.
As we journey toward liberation and freedom, we have become aware that life is change... Growth is optional..., and we must choose wisely. When we are grounded in faith, we experience the presence of God.
Looking back over the last seventy-five years, we are aware that there is much to be done in our City, Church and Hearts; so that all the Faith-values that we hold so dearly become a reality in the human condition.
For all of us, the time is NOW -- that all our FAITH-VALUES be expressed in concrete expressions of Christ-like Love. Only then we will taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Finally, we ask God to continue to bless and keep al of us and let His Spirit guide us as we continue our spiritual journey of Faith, Hope and Love.
Rev. Thomas A. James, SVD
On behalf of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and as Principal of St. Edward School, it is a great honor for me to welcome you to the 75th Anniversary of the founding of St. Edward Parish and School.
In September 1918, St. Edward School opened its doors in the small rural community of New Iberia. Few people then could have envisioned how far reaching would be the influence of its students. Today, St. Edward touches all corners of the U.S. and extends its arms globally. Students from St. Edward enrich all professional, academic and religious levels. Our Alumni model the highest ambition of our students today. You have passed down a noble heritage!
As you come together in celebration of your roots here at St. Edward, we thank God for you. We ask His blessing, and we encourage you to keep the spirit of St. Edward alive, so that we can pass on to the next generation, the noble qualities of servise, generosity and leadership, that the Catholic Community of St. Edward provides.
Sr. Michelle Callanan, Principal
(A Brief Historical Sketch)
The roots of African American Catholicism run deeply, often reflected through patterns of beautiful and unique stories. St. Edward's Catholic Church is certainly no different, as it can boast of its own rather unique beginning. The Congregation of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church of the City of New Iberia Louisiana began as a National Parish for African Americans.
New Iberia was founded back in 1779 as a Spanish colony. A total of 19 slaves of African descent arrived along with Francisco Bouligny to help settle the land with Malaguenos and others. They survived many obstacles to settle this land called New Iberia, named after the Iberian peninsula in Spain. Hurricanes, fever, floods and other natural elements contributed to this difficulty.
However, the town grew despite these many difficulties. One prominent historian makes note of the fact that Africans helped to build this wonderful community. It is more than likely that their labor was a significant contribution to the construction of the Shadows-on-the-Teche, the Alma House and Mintmere Plantation.
Also of special interest is that Felicite, a woman of African descent, has earned a prominent place amongst the name listed in the history of this town. There was a serious outbreak of yellow fever in 1839 that caused many to die. Felicite nursed many people back to health, ministered to the dying, closed the eyes of those who had died, and mourned over their graves. The town's people cared for her until her death in January 1852.
On the day of her burial, a holiday was declared. Every business in New Iberia was closed, and every man, woman and child accompanied her remains to the final resting place at St. Peter's Graveyard.
New Iberia is known for its agriculture and great natural resources. It is the people of African descent -- the men, women and children who provided the free and cheap labor to harvest the sugarcane and other crops that were a major part of the town's economy during those early days.
New Iberia is also known as the "Queen City-of-the-Teche" because of its regional contribution to commerce. Whether steamboat, train, horse & buggy or truck, people of African descent contributed to this effort.
The needs of the Roman Catholic members of the community were taken care of by the church of St. Martinville.
As the town grew, it became incorporated in 1836. With the township came the establishment of the first Roman Catholic Church. It was called St. Peter. This meant that the needs of the people of New Iberia were now being served by their own church.
During this time, the people of African descent worshipped with other Catholic sisters and brothers who were descendants of the Spanish, French, Nova Scotians, Germans and other nationalities.
In the struggle to build the parish of Iberia, it became apparent that the services of one priest could not meet the needs of all the people. Given the social and political climate of this period, the lack of spiritual care for the people of African descent was compounded.
Perhaps the most singular event to wedge the relationship of the people of the town was the return of soldiers form the Civil War. They found the town under military occupation and economic ruin. A town that had once prospered before the war now lay among much destruction and havoc.
The newly freed African slaves were given the right to vote, and to govern themselves. Under the technical assistance and guidance of the Black Republicans and the Freedman Bureau, the ex-slaves began to rule this community. Marcel Boutte was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees. A man of African descent called Simon served as Constable and City Judge. Both Samuel Wakefield and Charles Decuir served terms as post master.
From the time of the Spanish colony was established until the end of the Civil war, all Catholics in New Iberia worshipped together under segregated seating arrangements. There were those amongst the people of African descent who had yearned for this newfound freedom to be part of their religious experience.
The opportunity happened when the Protestant zealots arrived with the so-called "Carpetbaggers" from the North and "Scalawags" from the South, and began to evangelize the African people. They began to struggle with what it meant to be African American and Roman Catholic. Some found this to be contradictory; therefore, they chose to leave the church in small numbers to form Protestant communities.
Many Africans, however, chose to remain with the church. They found consolation in the faith experience and endured social conditions. And then there were those who did not participate at all.
Between 1890 and the Turn-of-the-Century, many laws were passed by the Louisiana State Legislature to establish "Jim Crow" segregation. It was during this period that Bishop Francis Janssen was appointed Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, of which New Iberia was a part.
Bishop Janssen assembled members of the clergy and laity to seek counsel on what to do about the social and political climate and the African American Catholic in the Archdiocese. It was this Archbishop who came up with the notion of establishing National Parishes in the Archdiocese.
National Parishes were used in the church to accommodate immigrant families until they were ready to assimilate into American society. No one was forced to join a National Parish. The option to remain in the territorial parish was up to the individual. archbishop Janssen shared other notions about race relationship, most of which were rejected by the people of the parish.
The first community to separate the African people in our area was St. John Catholic Church in Lafayette. The African community was called St. Paul the Apostle. This was before the diocese of Lafayette was formed. St. Edward was the first Parish to be founded into the new Lafayette Diocese headed by Bishop Jules Jeanmard.
Although help did come from from the pastor of St. Peter, leakage amongst the African members continue to happen due to social and political climate, and the segregated treatment in the church. One pastor at the church rejected the notion of separation because he believed that the mulattoes would not want to separate and form a National Parish with the other members of African descent.
During the period leading up to separation, great educational institutions were established for Catholics. Founded during this time was the St. Joseph School for the people of African descent on Sept. 1, 1877.
This school was staffed by the Sisters of Mt. Carmel. It was located in the back of Mt. Carmel during those days. By 1889, the school's enrollment included 26 boys and 46 girls. It lasted until 1904. A year later, the structure was burned to the ground; it was never reconstructed.
Sister M. Felicity Samson, Sister M. Stanislaus Boyerdoffer and Sister Mary Albert Andre were the members of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel who staffed this School. The Sisters were proud of the work they had begun with "the other sheep." This school was created under the administration of Fr. Claude Jacquet of St. Peter's. He was known as a man of great vision and consciousness. It was under the pastoral of the Very Rev. P.M. Jouan that this school ended in 1904.
The Very Rev. P.M. Jouan was responsible for making improvements to the school in 1891. Funds were sought by the pastor from Bishop Janssen through the Board of the Negro and Indian Missions. He felt that with a pledge of $150 for three years he would be able to keep the school opened.
It was also during this time that the notion of a separate parish was first mentioned. Fr. Jouan felt that this would not work in New Iberia. He told the Bishop that the numerous mulattoes, who lived in the territorial boundaries of St. Peter's, would not want to leave the white congregation to associate with the Negroes in a place of Catholic worship. While Msgr. Langlois was a pastor at St. Peter's, a National Parish for the African American congregate of Roman Catholics of New Iberia became a reality.
Archbishop Janssen's vision to provide a parish for the African American Catholic people was not readily embraced by the people of New Iberia. National Parishes were established gradually throughout the Archdiocese at a slow pace, and continued under Archbishop Chapelle.
By 1909, with the appointment of Archbishop James Herbert Blenk, the National Parish program for the diocese accelerated. With the rapid departure of African American Catholics from the church and the continued increase of racial tension, the church felt that emphasis on an active parish life in a National Parish would encourage the Africans not to leave.
In October 1916, Msgr. Langlois, pastor of St. Peter's in New Iberia, petitioned Archbishop Blenk to establish a National Parish in New Iberia. His request -- to send a priest to be exclusively in charge of the people of African descent in his congregation -- served as means to reduce the size of his extensive congregation.
Also, it was believed that racial tension would be eased and further leakage from the faith would be prevented once people of African descent were allowed to have and to build a separate National Parish with its own titles and properties.
The Archbishop wrote to the Holy Ghost Fathers to request their assistance in this effort. An excerpt of the actual letter includes the following:
"New Orleans, La., Feb. 10, 1917
Very Reverend dear Father:
This is to inform you that, at an early date, I will call together the Diocesan Consultors with the view of the creation of a new parish for colored people in New Iberia. I am indeed happy to know that you are willing to accept this new parish and to send me one of your Fathers to take charge of it in due course of time.
New Iberia is a very promising field, the large Catholic population of that section is already very well disposed and will respond with enthusiasm to your efforts on their behalf. You may go right ahead with any arrangements you may wish to make before taking charge of this parish, with the assurance that every facility will be given you here to realize this project.
With all good wishes, I am,
In due time, Fr. E. Phelan made all the necessary arrangements for the new Parish. The new mission for New Iberia was authorized by the Mother House of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament on June 7, 1917. His notes indicated that the initial gift from Blessed Katharine Drexel was $10,000. He then received a subsequent gift of $1,000 and a $250 gift for a memorial altar in memory of the late Gen. Edward Morrell, the brother-in-law of our benefactress Blessed Katharine Drexel.
Gen. Morrell and his wife, Louisa Bouvier, sister of Blessed Katharine Drexel, actively promoted and advanced the welfare of African Americans throughout the country. The Morrels used their wealth to build magnificent institutions that served, abated and aided the education and upward mobility of African Americans. Gen. Morrell took charge of the Indian work, while Blessed Katharine Drexel was in her novitiate.
Gen. Morrell was a member of the United States Congress, and used his influence to further the work of the Indian Bureau. In addition, he also took a vital interest in the blighted condition of African Americans. At the time of his death, Sept. 1, 1917, Gen. Morrell lived in Colorado Springs, with his wife Louisa.
At the request of Blessed Katharine Drexel, the new mission of St. Edward's Catholic Church was named in honor of St. Edward the King, in memory of her brother-in-law. Father Phelan made these wishes known to Bishop Jeanmard by letter on Nov. 2, 1917 and received permission to do so.
In the late 1980s, Holy Mother Church announced to the world what the people of St. Edward's already knew: Blessed Katharine Drexel was in heaven.
She is truly an American Saint, but to us she will always be remembered as the lady who championed our cause with her generosity.
Leading up to this announcement by the Church, much research had been done on her life. Biographers described her as a daughter of the privileged, whose father owned a banking empire, and one whose mother's ancestors reached our shores before the great Revolutionary War, and whose step mother shared a sense of deep spirituality and generosity.
This research tells how this Philadelphian used her great wealth to champion the cause of African Americans and Native Americans in the Roman Catholic Church and the United States. The people of St. Edward will have fond memories of Mother Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and generous benefactress to our cause.
As with all things, there were those among the African America congregation who consciously objected to the separation from St. Peter's, the territorial parish for Roman Catholics in New Iberia. However, as the parish developed and they began to see the fruits of the spiritual labor of the missionaries, these "objectors" became reconciled to the change.
On the first page of the 1st volume of the Baptismal Registry of the church, the following is written:
"Rev. F. Xavier Lichtenburger C.S.Sp., arrived in New Iberia, LA., October 1, 1917. From that day he took charge of the colored population here, holding services at St. Peter's Church - till St. Edward's was built. He entered into the new house on Jan 1, 1918 and into his new St. Edward's Church on Nov. 10. 1918"
The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament later arrived on Sept. 12, 1918. The new church was not dedicated untilMay 4, 1919.
Fr. F. Xavier Lichtenburger had a parish of approximately 650 families. Many of the people did not attend Mass during this initial period. One reason that some people did not attend Mass was that they had to travel very far on poor roads by foot. Another reason was the lack of adequate care for spiritual needs under the previous administration at St. Peter's.
It was also noted , during this period, that many of all ages had not yet made their First Communion. In addition, many were flocking to Protestant sects. To combat this, societies were formed and monthly Communion was inaugurated.
Many of the parishioners resided in rural districts or on plantations. Very few of the children could read or write, and received little or no religious instructions. As a result, Catechetical centers were established in Segura, Olivier, Rynella and Petite Anse. It was the belief of the pastors that the way to strengthen the mission work was to establish chapels in the rural districts. The people were found to be generous and willing to sacrifice in support of the mission work.
Fr. Lichtenburger is also credited with building the combination school/church building.
During his pastorate, records indicate that the following African American members of the parish served as members of the Board of Directors for the Congregation of St. Edward Roman Catholic Church: Jules W. Handy, William C. Broussard, Walter Peltry and Joseph Prados.
Perhaps the biggest turning point in the early years was the mission held during Passion Week 1921. During the week of this mission, some 3,000 Communions were distributed, compared to 6,000 Communions throughout the previous year. Fr. Matthews, a Passionist Father, made many who had neglected their duty for years approach the Holy Table and receive Communion. Also, some 12 marriages were blessed during that week.
Fr. Lichtenburger was assigned to St. Joachin's in Detroit, Michigan. He was succeeded by Fr. T.A. Wrenn, who served from 1919 to 1921. He is credited with the purchase of the cemetery and laying it out.
Fr. J.A. Pobleschek, who succeeded Fr. Wrenn, served from 1921-1924. He made improvements on both the church and school.
The Rev. J.C. McGlade, who served from 1924-1935, moved the rectory and the parish hall closer to the church. The rectory was located a block away from the church.
In addition, Fr. McGlade is remembered for the part that he played in attending to the needs of the African American people during the Flood of 1927. Camps were established on the banks of the Spanish Lake between Segura and Burke stations. "Roy Camp" on the Atkinson place was established for the white citizens, while McGlade Camp, under the direction of Fr. McGlade, was located on the old Pharr Plantation, and was set up for African Americans.
During the reign of Fr. McGlade, conversion to the faith totaled large numbers. It is believed that these conversions were a direct result of the many works of mercy performed for the people without regards to creed.
Fr. Anthony Walsh, who succeeded Fr. J.C. McGlade in 1935, served a short term.
The Rev. J.P. Lonergan arrived in 1936, and succeeded Fr. Anthony Walsh. Fr. Lonergan was credited with introducing the idea of a mission in Olivier. The St. Joseph Society sold the community both its hall and its property for $1,000. The hall was dismantled and brought to Olivier, where it was rebuilt.
The St. Joseph Society was a benevolent society, which provided care for its members in need of crisis relief and emergency assistance. Its main source of assistance was the purchase of medicine for members. The St. Joseph society lasted until the early 1970s. Pledge cards were distributed in Olivier in support of the cost of establishing the mission.
The Sisters begin to teach Catechism in Olivier on June 17, 1944. First Communion was received there for the first time in a temporary church. Mrs. Elizabeth Frey Raspberry, of Iota, donated $20,000 in the memory of her son. It was through the benevolence of Mrs. Raspberry that the new mission chapel dedicated to St. Jude became a reality.
In 1945, St. Edward had two pastors, Fr. J.E. Stegman and Fr. James McCaffrey.
Fr. McCaffrey was succeeded by Fr. Herbert Frederick in 1949. It has been a longstanding joke that Fr. Frederick was known as "Fr. Money" for encouraging parishioners to contribute only paper currency because he didn't like to hear change in the collection basket. He was also remembered for having a pet bulldog.
Fr. Frederick was succeeded by Fr. Clement Roach as pastor in 1957, the year that the first daily Mass was said on the Feast of St. Jude. And in December of that year, the Chapel was officially dedicated.
In 1958, the new church and rectory were built. At this time, Frere Street was opened, and an additional property was purchased. The parish of St. Edward now contained two blocks.
The church was used for the first time on Palm Sunday of 1958. On Aug. 30th of that year, the church was dedicated by Bishop Schexnayder. This date is also the Feast Day of Katharine Drexel, whose generosity was responsible for building the first combined school and church. The old church was turned into a hall for the parishioners and a lunch room for the school.
In 1958, Fr. Edmond Leonard succeeded Fr. Frederick as pastor. Fr. Leonard completed the construction of the new school building that had already begun. The year 1959 marked another historical event at St. Edward, as the parish witnessed the tearing down of the old combination school and church.
The structure, which was purchased through the donation of Blessed Katharine Drexel, was replaced by a brick and concrete block school, which included 12 classrooms, a cafetorium, a library and a kitchen. The seating capacity of the new church was approximately 600. The St. Jude Mission Chapel's seating capacity was approximately 250. The new rectory was air-conditioned with four bedrooms and four offices. The only original structure (purchased by Blessed Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament) that still remains today is the brick air-conditioned convent.
Fr. Leonard was succeeded by Fr. Eugene Moroney in 1966. Fr. Moroney served the parish of St. Edward until 1968, when he was succeeded by Fr. Martin Kirschbaum.
Fr. Kirschbaum served a short time that year, and was later replaced by Fr. John Schlicht. It was during Fr. Schlitcht's stint as pastor that the St. Edward Housing Project was established.
Fr. John Schlicht was succeeded by Fr. John Burns, who served from 1971 to 1976.
Fr. John Burns was succeeded by Fr. Murphy, who was the last Holy Ghost Father to serve as pastor for St. Edward. Under Fr. Murphy's administration, St, Edward's had approximately 800 families.
The Holy Ghost fathers served the congregation of St. Edward Catholic Church for 60 years. The Holy Ghost Fathers returned the administration of the congregation of St. Edward to the Diocese of Lafayette on Feb. 13, 1977, the last Sunday that they served the parish.
St. Edward Parish was judged by the Holy Ghost Order to be a success. As missionaries, these Fathers were dedicated to the task of accepting difficult work, and to develop this work. When the sufficient progress was made, the churches were returned to the Diocese.
The parishioners of St. Edward were disheartened at the departure of the Holy Ghost Fathers. Perhaps, a letter printed in the bulletin on their last day of service illustrates how much the Holy Ghost Fathers were going to be missed. As follows:
"The parishioners of St. Edward's are grateful to the Holy Ghost Fathers. The ones who baptized the people, said Mass and preached, heard confessions, witnessed at marriages, and who presided at the funerals of the beloved dead marked by the signs of faith. They are gone but will never be forgotten by the people.
We will cherish memories of their heroic deeds and sacrifices."
A farewell celebration in recognition of the Holy Ghost Fathers' contribution was held on Feb. 13, 1977. The event, which was sponsored by the Parish Council and Parish Organizations, included a Mass and reception.
Also during February of 1977, St. Edward became a Diocesan parish. Thus began a new chapter in the life of this congregation of African American Catholics. They were no longer recognized as a "people to be missioned to, but a people with a mission."
During this pastorate, the people were brought into full connection with the Diocese. Fr. William "Bill" Havenar was installed as pastor on Feb. 28, 1977. He greeted parishioners with the following message:
"Greetings from your new Pastor. I am Fr. Bill Havenar and I am delighted to be here. Since arriving last Tuesday I have met a number of you, I get the impression that you are a community of people who are proud of your faith, your Parish and all its institutions. At this point I feel that I have been sent to a gold mine. I hope I can at least match your interest and drive. May we have many years together."
The people of St. Edward's enjoyed seven good years under Father's leadership. He presented himself to the people and accepted them as they were.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, the community searched for meaning within the "winds of change." Under Fr. Havener, the people began to reflect on lay involvement in the church. They responded by taking a greater role in the local church and Diocese. Parish Council and commissions were functional. Much energy was directed toward the Liturgy and the formation and training of Liturgical Ministers. Ministries of Temporal nature emerged. The people began to care for one another based on felt need and concerns.
In 1983, Fr. "Bill" resigned as pastor. After a brief search, the Diocese sent Fr. Gus Johnson. Within six months of his arrival, Fr. Johnson wrote the following letter to the people:
"People of God:
This has been a difficult letter to write. My decision is based on the age old principle of self-preservation. St. Edward Parish is a large, very active parish. It makes heavy demands on your pastor. The last two and a half months, I have experienced severe tensions and stresses, jeopardizing both my health and effective ministering, tantamount to a total 'burn-out.'
Bishop Frey and our Diocesan Clergy Personal Board agree I cannot continue ministering under such circumstance. I have accepted a transfer to a smaller, less stressful parish. This to become effective the latter part of January 1984.
This is indeed an unfortunate turn of events. What must be, must be. God will provide.
I join you in prayers God's blessings will bring you a young, strong and healthy new pastor.
Fr. Gus Johnson."
With the resignation of Fr. Johnson, we find the end of the Diocesan Ministration of the Congregation of St. Edward. The Rev Johnson was assigned to Assumption Parish in Carencro. This was his last assignment. After leaving Assumption Parish he died following a brief illness.
In 1984, the Bishop turned to the Southern Province of the Society of the Divine Word to serve the people of this Congregation. This Religious Community was founded by Blessed Arnold Janssen. This is the Order, which had a vision of indigenous clergy. It established a Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Miss. to train young black boys to become priests. The Society of the Divine Word is also responsible for the Ordination of the first class of black priests to be ordained in the United States. Prior to this, black priests were ordained outside of the country.
Many young men from the congregation of St. Edward's traveled to Bay St. Louis to study at the Seminary; however, only one would reach Ordination. He, the son of Fanella and Clarence Dixon, Sr., would say "yes" when given the call to serve.
Fr. Francis Alvin Dixon attended St. Edward's Catholic School as a young man. At an early age, Fr. "Alvin" had a strong desire to become a priest. It was here in New Iberia, under the influence of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the devoted lay teachers, his family and friends, and his pastor, Fr. Frederick, that Fr. Dixon's desire to become a priest grew even stronger.
Young Al Dixon and several of his classmates entered the minor Seminary at Bay St. Louis. Out of all the young men who attended the Seminary, Fr. Dixon was the only one who reached Ordination. He held several assignments before coming to St. Edward's. Included were: Dean of Students at the Minor Seminary at Bay St. Louis, Assistant Pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Lafayette, and Pastor of St. Joseph's in Broussard.
Upon his arrival, Fr. Dixon was greeted with much enthusiasm, as the people were ready to be served by one of "their own."
Immediately, Fr. Dixon stressed a return to the essential values of Truth, Justice and Love. One of his greatest contributions was the implementation of the Immediate Action Program (IAP).
This program helped raise the necessary finances to accomplish all the needed renovations. The new church had not been renovated since it was built in 1958. The only work that had been done was the moving of the altar and the installation of an air conditioner.
It was determined tat a larger space, which would be well-lighted, was needed to worship. For St. Jude, renovations were needed for both the church and the hall. The cemetery needed better upkeep and a new mausoleum. The Imani House was to become the new C.C.D. Center.
Renovations at the school and teachers' salary funds were also necessary. In addition, the Convent, which has been built in 1918, needed a new roof and two new rooms.
The people responded by pledging to support the church with donations in excess of $300,000 over a three-year period.
It was during Father Dixon's administration that the High School Religious Education Program was reinstated. Fr. "Alvin" is also remembered for the great care he gave to the details of the Liturgy. Liturgies were authentically black, truly Catholic, properly planned, and excellently executed.
While serving as pastor, F. Dixon studied in Rome for six months. While he was away, the parish was attended to by Fr. Kenneth Hamilton, who is remembered for his love of Gospel music, youthful exuberance and Revival-style preaching.
Fr. Dixon was also noted for many other accomplishments during his pastorate, including serving as the Episcopal Vicar for the Southeast Deanery for the Diocese of Lafayette and the Dean of the Clergy for the City of New Iberia.
In January of 1990, Fr. Dixon as appointed by the Society of the Divine Word to serve as Prefect of Philosophers at Toton House in New Orleans. He was succeeded by a classmate, Fr. Thomas James, who came from Immaculate Heart of Mary in Lafayette. Prior to this appointment, Fr. James served as principal of Verbum Dei, a high school in Los Angeles, Calif.
It is under Fr. James' administration that the Immediate Action Program continues. Today, St. Edward's is a reflection of the seeds that were planted long ago by those pioneering the way. The blooms have sprouted and are now evidenced by the participation of he congregation in many of the parish's organizations. These organizations include the Legion Mary, Knights of St. Peter Claver, Ladies Auxiliary, Junior Daughters, Junior Knights of St. Peter Claver, Altar Society, Parish Council and its Commissions.
Worship and Spiritual Life are also alive and well. The parish can proudly claim many Liturgical ministries that are deeply rooted. These ministries include: Lectors, Choirs, Ushers, Altar Servers, Environment, Youth Ministers and Musicians.
The purpose of Religious Education is to foster Christian formation and faith development, and the Parish of St. Edward's is no different. It can lay claim to a viable education program through a Catholic School, Elementary and High School CCD, Sacramental Preparation, and Adult Education (RCIA).
Many parishioners are volunteers at the Social Service Center and Saint Francis Diner. There are also those who minister to the homebound and prisoners. Many felt needs are being met by the people.
Editor's note: While this brief historical sketch has limitations, much has gone unsaid. It is the hope of the editor and committee members that no one was left out or felt slighted. However, to those who may be offended by these omissions, heartfelt apologies are extended.
It is the wish of the committee that further research may be sparked in the near future. Still, some may be troubled with the inclusion of so much history prior to 1917. Enough can never be said about those who have gone before us marked with the sign of Faith.
The sources used for this effort were many. And thanks are extended to those who allowed us to use Parish records and school records. In addition, thanks are also expressed to those who shared their personal reflections, and those who, for one reason or another, were unable to do so because time would not permit.
Above all, we give thanks to God, who made it all possible by allowing us to complete this 'sometimes' tedious task.
(A Brief Historical Sketch)
Next year, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament will celebrate 75 years of service to the African people in New Iberia
The Sisters arrived in New Iberia on Sept. 12, 1918. There were three Sisters who formed the first community of Nuns. They were Mother M. de Chantal, Sister M. Andrew and Sister M. Martin.
A little cottage on the corner of French and Lombard Streets was used as the first convent. Later, the Sisters moved to a house on the corner of Washington and Iberia Streets. After moving to a house on the corner of Pershing and Julia Streets, they moved to the present location in 1923. This house was built by Blessed Mother Katharine at a cost of about $14,000. The first school was part of a two-story structure that served as a combination school/church.
In 1918, the opening of school was delayed because of an outbreak of the Spanish Flu. The School opened a week after the first Mass was said in the new church. On Nov. 18, some 42 children arrived at the school to learn. The enrolment gradually increased that year. By March 19 of that school year, the school hired its first lay teacher to teach the first grade class.
By the beginning of the next school term, two more Sisters were sent from the Mother House by Blessed Rev. Mother Katharine Drexel. Now the community consisted of five Nuns.
The initial plan from the Mother House, developed by Mother Katharine herself, was to have a central grade school surrounded by rural schools, which would be supervised by the central grade school.
In 1922, grades sixth and seventh were added. Three years later, a high school was developed. The final step would be the creation of Xavier University.
All of this was the grand plan to improve the educational opportunities for Africans in this area. No one will ever be able to assess the effects of this grand education plan in our area. We owe the plan and its fruits to the "Great American Saint," Blessed Katharine Drexel.
The following excerpt from a report filed with the Catholic Diocesan School Board will give an idea of the educational climate the second year that the school was opened in 1919:
"St. Edward School opened Sept. 15 with promise of an overflowing attendance. Notwithstanding the fact that a large portion of our pupils must remain at home until the rice, cotton and sugarcane crops are in, we have already registered over 150. Two more teachers are on the staff this year, enabling us to accept pupils up to the 5th grade. As so many of the poor negroes on the farms round about here have had little or no opportunity of attending school heretofore, and children from 10-18 ignorant of their 'ABC's' to come to us, we have opened a special class for them. One Sister is devoting all her time to inculcating in these the rudiments of the four "R's" -- Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion. The beginning of this new phase of our work is proving its utility. Twenty-five pupils are now members of the class. and we fear accommodations will be inadequate for all applicants when the crops are harvested."
As planned by Mother Katharine, there were 15 rural schools developed around the country side. St. Edward School and High School were the center of learning.
The purpose of the rural schools was to provide Christian education for people of African descent, wherever there were no public or private schools for African Americans.
Mother Katharine built the 15 rural schools in the 1920s. These schools were two- or three-room schools with small cafeterias. The grades were divided according to the number of students. These schools were for all students of African descent, Catholic and non-Catholic.
As early as 1927, St. Edward School was approved by the State of Louisiana, and continues this day with approved status by the State of Louisiana.
By 1930, St. Edward's sponsored teacher training courses also had the approval of the State of Louisiana. When certified, its graduates could secure positions as teachers in any rural or public school in Louisiana. This teacher training program continued at St. Edward's until 1936, when it was transferred to Xavier University in New Orleans.
For the rural teachers, this was an opportunity not only to teach but to also do mission work. St. Edward School was the central location for this plan.
In Margaret A. Diggs' book, Catholic Negro Education, which was published in 1936, we find a discussion of the annual Seminar for Rural Teachers, conducted at St. Edward School in New Iberia:
The Annual Rural Seminar for Rural Teachers, conducted at St. Edward School, New Iberia, Louisiana, September 29, 30 and October 1 of each year. At this time over 25 teachers availed themselves of the opportunity to gain new ideas and formulate higher ideals and aspirations for the new term. The Seminar opened with an informal conference, outlining briefly the objective and the program of the three day session. The teachers observed the classroom procedure of St. Edward School, noting the physical structure of the building, the teacher's bearing, and whether or not the pupils were getting a fair proportion of the subject matter taught. Round table conferences were held, together with discussions of the means which would be most effective in furthering the work and influences of rural education. The difficulties and perplexities which beset a rural school teacher are often problems, which in many cases cannot be solved by the knowledge gained from standard teacher training courses, for each teacher finds in the Seminar conferences as an impetus to work out her own school problems in an efficient manner. The last day of the Seminar was spent in quiet recollection and invocation of God's special blessing on the work of the school term and recreation provided by uplifting programs. In the next few days each teacher was found in her school room, happy and eager to devote herself to God's service and the welfare of her people."
By 1953, these Annual Seminars ended. The responsibility for securing teachers for the rural schools and visitation was picked up by the Diocesan Supervisor for Education.
Not only was St. Edward the first parish established in the new Lafayette Diocese, but it was also the first National Parish, as well as a center for Christian education for African Americans in the rural districts of the Diocese.
In fact, St. Edward can take credit for the schools that developed into full-fledged Diocesan Parishes.
These Parishes included: Assumption of Carencro, St. Mathilda of Eunice, Our Lady of Mercy in Rayne, Our Lady of Lourdes of Abbeville, St. Joseph of Broussard and Notre Dame of St. Martinville.
In 1971, due to the consolidation and integration of the Catholic Schools, St. Edward School became the primary grades of the Catholic School System of New Iberia, while Mount Carmel and Catholic High School became the Elementary and High School areas of the Catholic School System.
Today, the teaching staff of St. Edward's is a complete Lay staff under the direction of a Sister of the Blessed Sacrament, who served as Principal, with other S.B.S.'s serving the school in the positions of Religious Education Coordinator, Remedial Reading and Math Teacher, and Financial Secretaries.
Improvements in the educational program include the opening of a Religion Center, under the direction of a Religious Education Coordinator, who constantly strives to update teachers in Religion and serves as a resource person for the teachers, in all that relates to the teaching of Religion in the school. Computer education and Instructional T.V. are also a part of our curriculum.
St. Edward School is fortunate in having an IBM Writing to Read Center available for kindergarten and first grade students. This language arts program is designed to develop the writing and reading skills of the young children. The computers are used to individualize instruction so that children can work at their own pace.
Instruction is delivered in a laboratory setting for one hour each day, using multi-activity, multi-sensory approach to learning, in which the students are active learners.
Under the leadership of the School Board, Pastor and Principal and dedicated service of Faculty and Staff, the students of St. Edward are continuing to receive an excellent religious academic education.
In 1917, the prophetic vision and dynamic foresight of a religious woman impregnated the location, the structures and the people for what today is known as St. Edward's Parish and School.
That woman was Mother Katharine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Hers was a firm conviction -- that all people of all races must be affirmed and utilized in the spread of God's Kingdom.
To this purpose she was an advocate of the necessity of a strong Christian education, an education which developed leadership qualities. To her and to those who followed her as teachers and guides to St. Edward's, each person was a potential leader.
Mother Katharine Drexel's generosity in providing funds and personnel so that her dream might come true made possible the elementary school, and the normal school which were the fruits of the seed she planted at St. Edward's.
Having been educated within this vision, hundreds of young women and men went out to exercise their leadership ability as professionals in various field, but most particularly as teachers throughout the small towns of Southern Louisiana.
Twenty-two of these towns in rural areas owed their very existence as well as their teaching faculty to the generosity and financial assistance of Mother Katharine Drexel.
Through the years, the students of St. Edward's have been exposed to the Eucharistic reality that "all men are one in Christ."
The awareness of their own worth, which has been the basis of the educational system at St. Edward's, has had the effect of their recognizing the worth of others -- of all others.
Today, the results are seen in the very makeup of the student body of pre-kindergarten to third grade classes, which make up the entire present enrollment. Representing both black and white races, over 350 children live the Eucharistic theme on unity.
In this unity, there is the recognition and respect of a plurality of heritage and ethnic values. The seed planted in 1917 has grown today into a vibrant caring Christian Community striving toward educational excellence.
F.X. Lichtenburger, C.S.Sp.
J.A. Wrenn, C.S.Sp.
J.A. Pobleschek, C.S.Sp.
J.C. McGlade, C.S.Sp.
A.J. Walsh, C.S.Sp.
J.P. Lonergan, C.S.Sp.
J.E. Stegman, C.S.Sp.
James McCaffrey, C.S.Sp.
Herbert Frederick, C.S.Sp.
Clement Roach, C.S.Sp.
Edmond Leonard, C.S.Sp.
Eugene Moroney, C.S.Sp.
John Schlicht, C.S.Sp.
John Burns, C.S.Sp.
Alvin Dixon, S.V.D.
Thomas A. James, S.V.D.
Assistant Pastors Who Served St. Edward Church
Fr. F.J. Nolan, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Jerome Stegman, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Luke Hubert, C.S.Sp.
Fr. William Strahan, C.S.Sp.
Fr. William Lavin, C.S.Sp.
Fr. John Haines, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Charles Hannigan, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Francis Danner, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Peter Maciejewski, C.S.Sp.
Fr. John Murray, C.S.Sp.
Fr. James White, Sr. C.S.Sp.
Fr. Joseph Behr, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Matthew Evanstock, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Norbert Rosso, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Roger Duffy, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Eugene Moroney, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Salvatore Federici, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Raymond Kulwicki, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Henry Montambleau, C.S.Sp.
Fr. William McElroy, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Joseph Deniger, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Martin Kirschbaun, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Miller, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Cassin, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Harrison, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Bernacki, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Walsh, C.S.Sp.
Fr. Oliva Forget
Fr. Robert Romero
Fr. John Dauphine, S.V.D.
Fr. Frank Charles, S.V.D.
Fr. Frank Drzaic, S.V.D.
Fr. Ken Hamilton, S.V.D. Administrator
Fr. Cecilio Jayme, S.V.D.
Fr. Paul Vung Le, S.V.D.
Fr. Malcolm O'Leary, S.V.D.
Theresa Monet Vallian
Mary Ellen Harris
Mary Ann Voorhies
Mrs. Barbara Guidry
Sheila Hall, Secretary
Mother M. DeCantal
Mother Marie Therese
Mother M. Scholastica
Mother M. Pius
Mother M. Benedicta
Mother M. Clarentia
Mother M. Eugene
Sister M. Martin
Sister M. Andrew
Sister M. Miriam
Sister M. Marian
Sister M. Immaculata
Sister M. Winifred
Sister M. Incarnata
Sister M. Callista
Sister M. Phillipa
Sister M. Gervase
Sister M. Concepta
Sister M. Madeline
Sister M. Celine
Sister M. Eymard
Sister M. Cyprian
Sister M. Eulalia
Sister M. Maris Stella
Sister M. Clara
Sister M. Hele Francis
Sister M. Ivan
Sister M. Columba
Sister M. Regina Pacis
Sister Mary Ryan
Sister Kevin Mynes
Sister M. Austin
Sister M. Josephina
Sister M. Francis de Sales
Sister M. Jeanette
Sister M. Stella
Sister M. Dominic
Sister M. Anne Julie
Sister Grace Pilon
Sister Mary Hickey
Sister M. Helene
Sister M. Carmela
Sister M. of Mercy
Sister M. Theodore
Sister Maria Petra
Sister M. Jude
Sister M. Guadalupe
Sister M. of Good Counsel
Sister M. Sheila
Sister M. Annunciata
Sister Clare Fancis
Sister M. Norah
Sister M. of Nazareth
Sister M. Tobias
Sister M. Patrick
Sister M. Johh
Sister M. Julia
Sister Patricia Rogan
Sister M. Grancis Lucille
Sister Anne McDermott
Sister Alice Marie
Sister M. Charles
Sister M. Chrysostom
Sister M. Gabriel Lalamont
Sister M. Michaeleen
Sister Maria Christella
Sister Marie Bernardi
Sister M. Sienna
Sister M. Dominica
Sister M. Agnita
Sister M. Cecilia Therese
Sister M. Theresa Ann
Sister M. Michael Anthony
Sister Eletta Marie
Sister Marie Assunta
Sister Maureen Hynes
Sister Anne Doyle
Sister M. Stephen
Sister Margaret Mary
Sister Marie Kinsella
Sister John Mary
Sister M. Carmel
Sister M. Grace
Sister M. Irma
Sister M. Vera
Sister Imelda Doyle
Sister Bridget O'Sullivan
Sister Anna Iroisi
Sister Lynn Marie Ralph
Sister Betty Strachan
Sister Margaret Sullivan
Sister Rose Ann
Sister Michelle Callanan, Principal
Sister M. Albertine
Sister Ita Walsh
Sister Agnes McDevitt
Sister Rita Gillan
Sister Mary Gervase Blaise
Sister Redempta Simms
Sister M. Jacinta Blanchard
Sister M. Anastasia Placide
Sister Vincent de Paul
Sister M. Nathaniel Jackson
Sister Gilda Bell
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