St. Christopher the Martyr Catholic Church
|309 Manson Avenue, Metairie, Louisiana 70001
|History of St. Christopher Church
Rummel on July 1, 1947, from parts of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Agnes Parishes.
The borders were the Illinois Central Railroad tracks, Soniat Canal, Lake Ponchartrain,
and Harlem Avenue (now Causeway Boulevard). It was formally dedicated on
November 13th of that year and embraced about 600 families. Father Patrick J. Quinn
was the founding pastor. Upon his arrival, he described the newly established parish as
“a big field with a lot of trees.”
For the first three months, Mass was celebrated in a classroom at Ella Dolhonde School.
The “pews” were chairs which were borrowed and transported back and forth each
weekend from East Jefferson High School by Mr. John (Uncle Jack) Ruppert, Sr., and
his son. The improvised altar was stored at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robichaux.
Fr. Quinn rented an apartment, but maintained an office in the home of Mr. and
Mrs. John Ruppert. During those three months, the property on which the present
church complex stands, excluding the convent, was purchased along with three U.S.
Army barracks from Camp Plauche. These barracks were moved to the property and
erected as a temporary church and rectory.
The first baptisms in the parish, recorded on July 13, 1947, were John Claiborne Baye,
Jr., Dianne Lynn Catherine Craft, and Sue Ann Hereard. Fifty-one children were
baptized by the end of 1947. The first wedding was solemnized on August 1, 1947,
between Robert Lee Harrison and Helen Agnes Vielee. The first funeral Mass was for
Nicholas Goudeaux on October 7, 1947. On June 16, 1949, 23 boys and 22 girls received
their first Holy Communion. On June 19, 1949, Archbishop Rummel confirmed 65
children and 14 adults.
As of December 31, 2006, there have been 10,454 baptisms, 8,199 confirmations, 2,409
weddings, and 3,885 funerals recorded in the parish.
With the founding of the new parish came an influx of new families into Metairie. To
provide for the education of our youth, St. Christopher School was dedicated in
September 1949. The founding principal, Sr. Luke, MSC, along with a staff of four nuns
and three lay teachers, provided an excellent education for 427 children. A convent was
erected on the slab of a former tow car garage. The Marianites of Holy Cross continued
to staff the school until 1975. Mrs. Ruth Meche then became the principal and is still
doing an excellent job.
Fr. Maurice J. Gubler succeeded Fr. Quinn as pastor on February 28, 1953. By this time,
the parish had increased in size to over 2,000 families. It became necessary to enlarge
the school. A new addition and cafeteria were dedicated on September 26, 1954. The
faculty increased by one nun and three lay teachers. Shortly thereafter, two classrooms
were converted into an auditorium. By July 1956, the staff consisted of eights nuns and
eight lay teachers. The sisters were living in very tight quarters.
Six parishes were eventually formed out of the original boundaries of St. Christopher
Pairsh: St. Mary Magdalen Parish on July 5, 1955; St. Philip Neri on July 2, 1960;
St. Edward the Confessor and St. Benilde in 1964; St. Clement of Rome in 1965; and
St. Ann in 1971. St. Christopher was still left with a population of 1800 families. Its
boundaries were the present ones of Clearview Parkway to I-10 to Cleary to W. Metairie
to Causeway Boulevard to the Illinois Central RR tracks.
The first Parish Fair in 1958 provided something for everyone. People came from all
over the area to attend.
On June 21, 1964, Fr. Ignatius Fossier, O.S.B., became pastor. Although plans were
approved to build a permanent church building as well as a rectory, the Archdiocese
placed a ban on all construction projects due to financial difficulties. In place of building
projects, the Benedictine staff concentrated its efforts on the spiritual needs of the large
congregation. As many as three weddings or funerals were celebrated in one day by
each of the priests.
The 25th anniversary of the parish in 1972 was observed with a Mass of thanksgiving
celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop L. Abel Cailliout. In 1975 the long-awaited rectory was
Fr. Andrew Taormina succeeded Fr. Ignatius as pastor in 1976. Construction of the
gymnasium had begun and was completed in July of 1977. In 1980 the electric church
bell system was donated by Ms. Stella Roman of New Orleans in memory of her
parents. When it became clear that the temporary church would be permanent, a three-
stage remodeling project was begun in 1981. The building systems were upgraded, and
the church was given a more contemporary interior style. The cry room and stained-
glass windows were added. The statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph in the
convent were moved to the church.
In 1983, Monsignor Louis LeBourgeois was named pastor. During his tenure, the
rectory addition was completed. The candle room that had been added to the church in
the renovation was converted to a devotional chapel.
Fr. H. J. Adams was named pastor in 1990. In 1991 construction was begun on the
building housing the Play School and Parish Center in 1997.
Fr. Kenneth Harney followed Fr. Adams as pastor in 1998. Building of the Play School
and Parish Hall was completed. It was dedicated in conjunction with the 50th
anniversary of the parish. That year, a special Mass for the Christmas tree lighting,
followed by caroling and reception, started a tradition that is repeated every year.
In 1999 Auxiliary Bishop Gregory Aymond celebrated Mass in observance of the 50th
anniversary of the school. Also in 1999, the Fall Fest was inaugurated as a time for fun,
food, and entertainment. The first parish ministry fair also took place that year. In
February of 2000, a fund-raiser to reduce the parish debt was begun with the selling of
bricks engraved with family names to be inlaid in the area in front of the church. In July
of that year, the devotional chapel was converted to an Adoration Chapel.
The vitality of the parish is exemplified in all the laypersons whose selfless gifts of time
and talent keep the parish alive. They do this by their participation in the following
organizations and ministries: Adoration Chapel volunteers, Altar Servers, the Altar
Society, Boy Scout Troops 117 and 269, Circle of Friends Club, Confirmation Formation
Program, Cub Scouts, CYO, Eucharistic Ministers, Evening for the Engaged, Finance
Council, Girl Scouts, Holy Name Society, Home and School Club, Knights of Columbus,
Lectors, Men's Club, Mission Rosary Makers, Music Ministry, Parish Council, Parish
Enrichment Group, Parish School of Religion, Outreach Ministry, and Ushers and
St. Christopher Parish celebrated its 60th anniversary July 2007. Also in 2007,
Fr. Harney passed away, and Fr. Frank Candalisa was appointed pastor. We are
blessed that he continues to provide loving pastoral care for the people of the parish.
The parish has also been served by Deacons Alan Johnson, Rodney Trahan, Charles
Duke, Gerald Martinez, and Philip McManamon.
In 2014 the conversion of the convent to an Early Learning Center was approved and
construction started. Also that year, with the encouragement of Fr. Frank, the Parish
Enrichment Group (PEG) organized a census of the parish that was conducted by more
than 70 volunteers who delivered door-hanger packets to 4,500 houses in the part of the
parish below West Napoleon Avenue. The data collected was entered into ParishSOFT
parish-household management software by generous volunteers, providing the ability
to analyze the demographics of the parish and establish effective communication with
In 2015 the Parish Enrichment Group (PEG) embarked on creating this Web site for the
parish, www.stchristopherano.com, providing comprehensive and current information
about the sacramental life, ministries, organizations, events, and staff of the parish. The
PEG also initiated a weekly “Good News You Can Use” e-mail to all who have provided
an e-mail address.
The achievements of these years are a direct result of those who have served the parish,
whether religious or lay. They have laid a solid foundation on which to build.