History of The Immaculate Conception Chapel

150 Years of History

It was on February 23, 1853, either by an act of God or a little persuading from as Archbishop of New Orleans, Antoine Blanc, a tract of land was donated by Mr. Arthur Morgan Foley. “Said donation was made for the establishment of a chapel or church for the use of the Catholic inhabitant of the said Canal especially”. A chapel had been built at Canal, La in the Bayou Lafourche section, in 1858, and priests from along the bayou would come and make masses for the people. The chapel was always kept up in good condition. The people of the Canal felt pride for their church and had a community spirit. Archbishop Shaw decided to establish a resident priest there. People responded with enthusiasm by building a rectory. On June 26, 1920, Archbishop Shaw appointed Father Leo Jarysch as pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. When the Archbishop arrived, a salute of the guns was fired. Edgar Breaux welcomed everyone there. The next day the parishioners had their first high mass sung by Father Jarysch. At four o’clock on that Sunday afternoon, a crowd of people headed by altar boys and twenty-four flower girls gathered at the presbytery to say farewell to Archbishop Shaw who was followed by Monsignor Gassler, Father Jan of Napoleonville and Father Jarysch. A cavalcade of men on horseback escorted the Archbishop and his party to the end of the parish. This was the greatest day remembered on the Canal.

In 1922, a large pavilion was erected on the grounds for fairs and other parish functions. During the administration of Archbishop Rummel, Canal was assigned to the parish of Pierre Part.

At one time in 1921, Father Ignatius Gottfried filled in for Father Leo. It is believed it was when Father Leo visited his homeland in Poland. Father Habeb came to serve the Immaculate Conception through the years 1925-1930.

In 1930 until January 1936, Father Beauvais came to reside here and served the Canal. To quote a person who remembers some of the things from that time period, “He was a good speaker; and he tried to tell people right from wrong. He was forty five or fifty. Young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty would visit him two or three times a week. He liked to talk to the young people.”

Father Toups replace Father Beauvais in 1936. He was of French descent from Lockport. Although he made mass for the people of the Immaculate Conception he lived in Pierre Part. Father M. Gubler was another priest who lived in Pierre Part who came to make mass here.

Father John Adams in the year of 1942, originally from New Orleans, lived in Pierre Part and also made mass at the chapel. The masses then were at seven and eleven. One Sunday the mass was at seven at the canal and eleven in Pierre Part. The next Sunday the schedule was alternated. In 1945 during Father Adam’s time with us, Mr. Louis Blanchard was requested to live in the rectory of the church. He was caretaker of the church until 1953. Father Adams left in 1950.

Father Paul Landsman, later becoming Monsignor, came to our parish in 1950. He lived in Napoleonville and served the canal. Mr. Louis Blanchard moved out the rectory when Father Cyprien Foret came in 1953. He left the canal in 1959. He died May 20, 1960.

Father Landsman again took over being pastor for the Immaculate Conception. In 1976, he had the roof and windows changed and aluminum siding was added. His time with the canal area was the longest than any other priest. He stayed for a period of thirty years until his retirement in 1980.

In September 1980, Father Victor Messina replaced Monsignor Landsman. It was during his stay that the chapel underwent some changes. The original cypress pews were removed and some modern cushioned pews and kneelers were installed. Tile flooring was replaced by vinyl floor and carpet. The inside of the church and the Stations of the Cross were painted. A cry room was added and a designated area for religious articles to be sold was set up.

Father Gregg Dompor was sent to Napoleonville for a while and would make mass for the people of the Canal frequently. He brought a group of young people together to form the first guitar played mass at the Immaculate Conception. Although he was sent to help Father Messina, he eventually had to obey orders from the Bishop and move away.

Father Vic stayed in Napoleonville and made masses here until he too had to obey orders from the Bishop and moved to New Roads. It was then that the people of the Immaculate Conception experienced, along with Napoleonville and Plattenville, a phenomenon known as clustering. Because of clustering the three parishes had to share one priest. The priest who was assigned was Father Kenneth Laird. The bishop chose him to begin something very new and controversial in our area. After the people realized the need for clustering because of the shortage of priests in the diocese, they were better able to accept this new idea.

Father Laird remained until 1986 and was then replaced by orders of the bishop by incoming priest Father Gerald Burns. With parish clustering taking its toll on area priests, attempts were made to close the little historic church. It wasn’t until the summer of 1992, Hurricane Andrew’s winds blew the roof off the Immaculate Conception Chapel. Some time would pass before anything would be done to repair the damages, while concerned citizen’s efforts went by the wayside. Rumors went around that the loving little chapel would be no more. Parishioners rallied, letters were written, words were passed, but in the end, the church was spared. Soon contractors would busily repair the storm damages (during Hurricane Andrew the church altar and pulpit were also destroyed. A new altar was rebuilt by Henry Blanchard, Jr. in thanksgiving for his son, Henry Blanchard, III having his life spared and total recovery from a serious car accident in which he broke his neck. The pulpit was also rebuilt and donated by Mr. Gaston Waguespack who did a beautiful job). Now stands a wonderful piece of history in our little chapel for future generations to enjoy and be proud of.

In 1997, our community welcomed Father Trey Nelson. Father Trey has brought many wonderful new programs to our combined communities for our youth. He along with the new addition of Associate Pastor Father Howard Adkins who arrived in 2007 has made the clustering schedule for our three parishes more manageable.

Although The Immaculate Conception Church has not operated a full mass schedule as of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and is no longer considered in the clustered parish schedule, the people of the Immaculate Conception always seemed to adapt to the changes that needed to be made and welcomed new pastors that came into their church with respect and the promise of cooperation in any endeavor for the betterment of it’s community and parishioners.

To date the chapel still celebrates two annual masses, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and All Saints Day for the blessing of the Cemetery. The Chapel through its Lady’s Altars Society’s Organization, which still remains active, also hosts each year on its own accord, an annual Crowning of the Blessed Mother in May, The Way of the Cross each Friday afternoon during Lent, and they lead the rosary each weekday morning in the chapel as a tribute to the Blessed Mother in the months of May and October. The Society also serves the community in many other ways, they still hold a monthly meeting of it’s membership, they have a bereavement committee for families that may need assistance in there time of grief and most important of all they have lovingly kept up the church that we all cherish a place of reverence and grace for those who seek its many blessings.

In Tribute

Lester Falterman, Born February 4, 1911

In preparation for our 150th celebration, Ms. Barbara Blanchard and Ms. Jane Templet had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Lester Falterman, the oldest living resident parishioner of The Immaculate Conception Community. Mr. Lester now 97 years old was happy to share his happy memories of his beloved chapel. He received all sacraments at the little chapel. He recalled his “Little and Big Communion”, serving as an altar boy under first resident priest Father Leo for six years, sang in the choir in Latin, was confirmed by Bishop Shaw and was married to his wife Genevieve.

He remembered many details about each priest who came to pastor the parish. What language they spoke, who their families were, he remembered “Fr. Habeb from Syria stayed only a few years with two relatives, Lily and Loly”. Mr. Lester served on the parish counsel for 30 years under Monsignor Landsman. However, he most appreciated by his devotion to the Blessed Mother. He faithfully for 47 years would ride his bike daily to the chapel to recite the rosary and for some many years to show his faith and devotion to his fellow parishioners, he rang the Angelus bells three times a day, causing people to stop what they were doing and pray the Angelus to the Blessed Mother.

Mr. Lester Falterman is indeed a devoted and true blessing sent to teach us that the value of giving back to your community will bring you joy and blessings of love, family and community. A community that has surely come to respect and love this humble man and what he has given to so many with his giving spirit.

Immaculate Conception Church Resident Priests

  1. Fr. Leo Jarysch – 1920-1925
    1. Fr. Ignatuis Gottfried filled in fro Fr. Leo in 1921
  2. Fr. Habeb – 1925-1930
  3. Fr. Charles Beauvais – 1930-1936
  4. Fr. Toups – 1936-1942
  5. Fr. John Adams – 1942-1950
    1. Fr. Gubler and Fr. Hughes resided in Pierre Part, travled by boat to fill in for Fr. Adams when needed.
      1. Fr. Cyprien Foret – 1953-1959
      2. Monsignor Paul Landsman – 1960-1980
      3. Fr. Victor Messina – 1980-1984
        1. Fr. Gregg Dompor Assisted Fr. Messina
      4. Fr. Kenneth Laird – 1984-1986
      5. Fr. Gerald Burns – 1986-1997
      6. Fr. Trey Nelson – 1997
        1. Fr. Howard Adkins – 2007

** Before the first resident priest, Fr. Leo Jarysch, records show that Father Anglais said masses at the chapel prior to 1920.