St. Augustine Catholic Church in New Orleans
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Chronology of Events in Church History
Year Event
1720 The Company of the Indies constructs the brick-between-posts house at Bayou Road and St. Claude to headquarter a tilery and brickyard, just two years after the founding of the city of New Orleans.
1793 Free people of color and slaves found the first colored Catholic Eucharistic Community, St. Francis Xavier, in Baltimore, Maryland. This community did not become a canonically established parish until 1863.
1823 Marthe Fortiere, a former postulant of the Hospital Nuns from France, founds the first colored Catholic school in the United States in a house on Rampart St. just off Esplanade Avenue, where she taught free girls of color and a few slaves.
1832 Jeanne Marie Aliquot, the prime catalyst for the development of the St. Augustine campus, is rescued from the Mississippi River by a colored fisherman as she slips overboard while attempting to disembark a ship from France.
1841 Jeanne Marie Aliquot purchased the Claude Treme property for $9,000 on January 3. Soon after, at Jeanne Marie's invitation, Marthe Fortiere moved the elementary school which she founded into the Claude Treme house.
1834 On November 14, free people of color lay the capstone of St. Augustine Church on the corner of St. Claude Avenue and Bayou Road (Governor Nicholls St.) on the Claude Treme property.
1842 On October 9, Bishop Antoine Blanc blesses, consecrates and dedicates St. Augustine Catholic Church.
1842 On November 21, Henriette DeLille and Juliette Gaudin kneel before the altar in St. Augustine Church, committing themselves to living in community, thus founding the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, the second-oldest congregation of African-American religious women.
1859 The Carmelite Nuns build a large school for white girls and the remnant of the small school for colored girls on the St. Augustine campus at the corner of North Liberty Street (now Treme) and Bayou Road (now Governor Nicholls Street).
1860 The body of Archbishop Antoine Blanc lay in state in St. Augustine Church, Because St. Louis Cathedral had burned and was being rebuilt.
1863 Jeanne Marie Aliquot went back to God in April, three months after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect.
1863 Free people of color and slaves at St. Francis Xavier Church in Baltimore, the Oldest colored Catholic Eucharistic Community in the United States, built their own church and became a canonical church parish.
1890 The St. Augustine Church rectory was constructed.
1890 The Louisiana Senate enacted the Separate Car Act on July 10, 1892, which forced railroad companies to provide separate coaches or partitions to divide people of different races and to prohibit anyone from entering a car not designated for her/his race.
1892 Homer Plessy, a parishioner of St. Augustine Church, triggered the famous Plessy vs. Ferguson court case by purchasing a ticket to Covington, Louisiana and challenging the Louisiana 1890 Separate Car Act by sitting in the white compartment of the train where he was arrested, jailed and put on trial.
1896 In the Plessy vs. Ferguson trial, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the State of Louisiana's Separate Car Act which mandated separate but equal facilities for whites and others. This triggered 58 years of segregation - legalized discrimination against non-whites. People of color left Treme in droves, quickly resulting in a mostly Italian population in the congregation of St. Augustine Church.
1897 Sidney Bechet, world-famous clarinetist/soprano saxophonist, was born on May 14 and baptized in St. Augustine Church.
1912 Father Joseph Subileau, the sixth pastor of St. Augustine Church, built a horse stable and trough in the rectory patio in 1912.
1920 The front wall of St. Augustine Church, which was wooden and originally ended where the big arch is (before the all-seeing eye), burned in 1920. Italian immigrants, who were the majority of the congregation at the time, tore down the remnants of the wall and built the present sanctuary, importing the marble from Italy and dedicating the structure on Chistmas day.
1926 Father J.B. Delepine razed the old Claude Treme home as supposedly beyond repair, thus destroying what would now be the oldest building in this entire area, since 80 percent of the Old quarter burned in the fire of 1788 and the remainder in the fire of 1794.
1926 The Sisters of Mount Carmel moved their generalate from the grounds of St. Augustine Church to their new site on Robert E. Lee Boulevard in the West End section of New Orleans.
1963 The fathers and brothers of the Divine Word Missionaries took charge of St. Augustine Church.
1963 The Sacred Heart Brothers from St. Aloysius School used the facilities of St. Augustine Elementary School to instruct their eighth grade boys. Brother Eduardo and Brother Rene each taught a section of 40 boys.
1964 The omnibus civil rights bill passed on June 29, banning discrimination in voting, jobs and all public accommodations. This time, the whites began to leave Treme in considerable numbers, causing St. Augustine Church to morph back into a predominantly black congregation.
1965 After years of falling enrollment and the ravages of Hurricane Betsy, the Sisters of Mount Carmel withdrew from the St. Augustine school.
1965 The Sisters of the Holy Family tried their hand at conducting the school.
1967 Ever-falling enrollment forced the Sisters of the Holy Family to give up the school.
1992 On September 8, about 84 sixth and seventh grade children from the James Lewis Elementary School Summerbridge Program initiated their regular school Year in the former school of St. Augustine Church. After one year, the children moved to the more spacious school facilities at Saints Peter and Paul Church. The St. Augustine school was never again revived.
1996 On Saturday, May 19, Friends of the Cemeteries sponsored a religious ceremony at St. Augustine Church, followed by a Second Line to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where the tomb of Homer Plessy, which had been renovated by the Friends of the Cemeteries, was blessed anew. This commemorated the centennial of the fateful landmark Homer vs. Plessy decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 18, 1896.
1997 On May 4, a jazz Mass was celebrated honoring the centennial of the birthday of world-class clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet.
1997 The Middle Passage, "White Ships, Black Cargo," charcoal drawings by Tom Feelings were exhibited in St. Augustine Church from May 8 to July 7.
1998 The department of archaeology from the University of New Orleans initiated a dig at the site of the Claude Treme home. Numerous shards, utensils and artifacts were unearthed and some of them are on display at various venues.
1999 On New Year's Eve, a huge, festive Mass was celebrated in St. Augustine Church, commemorating the passing Centennial, the passing Millennium and incoming Centennial and Millennium. A number of nationals from around the world joined a beyond-standing-room-only crowd of locals and people from many states of the nation to celebrate the occasion with a rousing Mass.
2001 On August 4, a jazz Mass was celebrated in memory of Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, commemorating the centennial of his birthday, August 4, 1901, and his unique stature as the father of Jazz.
2001 On November 18, commemorating the November 21 Founder's Day of the Sisters of the Holy Family, a rousing Gospel Mass with more than 70 Sisters of the Holy Family in attendance was the background for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque of their founding, featuring Henriette DeLille and Juliette Gaudin. The plaque was financed by Mrs. Sylvia Barker Jones through royalties of her uncle Paul (& Onelia) Barbarin. After the Mass, almost all the nuns, even those not walking well, joined the Second Line, walking the full mile pilgrimage to the grave of their foundress, Henriette DeLille in St. Louis No. 2 Cemetery.
2002 160th year anniversary of St. Augustine Church's dedication was celebrated in October.
2004 On Saturday, June 19, a joyous memorial service was held at St. Augustine Church for fabled musician/singer Ray Charles Robinson. The 11 a.m. Celebration was graced by Mayor C. Ray Nagin, Allen Toussaint, Davell Crawford, Juanita Brooks, many community leaders and a hefty congregation from all around the city.
2004 On Saturday, October 30, in the midst of a Gospel Extravaganza unfolding in the St. Augustine parking lot, Archbishop Alfred Schulte, standing near the church garden area and accompanied by a large crowd from around the city and parts of the nation, blessed and dedicated The Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a shrine consisting of outsize marine chains welded together with shackles and iron balls to form a huge, fallen cross.  An explanatory plaque hangs on the church wall next to the shrine.
2005 Sunday, April 3 climaxed 72 hours of frenetic cleaning, repairing and renovating the 1912 horse stable off the rectory patio.  A complete conversion into a modern facility for St. Augustine / Treme Archives was effected through a $7,000 grant from Divine Restoration, a Canadian TV film show, which aims to enhance the worship of African -American churches by accomplishing the renovation of a well-defined facet of an individual church.  The entire procedure was documented by the show's professional film crew.
2005 Mardi Gras Indian chief Allison "Tootie" Montana died of a heart attack on June 27, while speaking to the New Orleans City Council.  The Council was conducting an inquiry into reports of police misconduct at a Mardi Gras Indian celebration in the Spring of 2005.  The community leader was buried on July 7 after a Mass of the Resurrection at St. Augustine Church.
2005 Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast on August 29 and New Orleans levees are breached in its aftermath, flooding the city.  St. Augustine Church survives the storm with minimal damage and, as citizens return, the parish focused on victim relief and the city's rebuilding.

1210 Gov. Nicholls St., N.O., LA 70116, (504)525-5934, Fax 523-2473.
Sunday Mass 10:00AM.

Wednesday Rosary at 5:30 p.m. & Mass at 6:00 p.m.

From 1990
Archaeological Excavation
of the Treme Neighborhood
by the University of
New Orleans
the Greater New Orleans Archaeology Project

Faience (handmade earthenware) - 1720-1780 Faience (tin-glazed handmade earthenward) dating
from 1720-1780.

Yellow Ware, chamber pot - 1850-early 1900s Yellow Ware, chamber pot
1850-Early 1900's

Decorated Pearlware, 1780-1830
Decorated Pearlware

Transfer Print Pearlware 1780-1830
Transfer Print Pearlware

Feather-edge Pearlware - Late 1800's
Feather-edge Pearlware
Late 1800's

Treme home with damaged shutters
Hurricane Katrina's high winds damaged the Treme neighborhood but it was largely spared the flooding that devastated
New Orleans in 2005.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

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