History of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish
The parish of Our Lady of Prompt Succor was canonically erected by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles P. Greco, D.D., on March 1, 1947. The Rev. Aloysius Olinger was appointed the first pastor.
When the parish began there were 549 families contributing to the regular collections and/or building drive. Today we have over 1200 registered families.
Father Olinger resided at St. Rita rectory and had temporary offices in the home of Mrs. Jewell Casteix on Jackson Street. Weekday Masses were offered at Providence Academy. Sunday Masses were offered at Menard High School. Baptisms, marriages and funerals were performed at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
On June 6, 1948 the first Mass was said in the first Church, 15 months after the parish was established. In June 1948 the first rectory at 572 Chester Street was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Louis L. Deville. Also, in 1948 the parish hall was bought from the War Assets Administration, remodeled and made serviceable for parish meetings and functions. Court Notre Dame No. 1452, Catholic Daughters of the Americas furnished the hall with tables, chairs, dishes and cooking utensils.
In February 1949 construction of the parochial school began and was completed and lay teachers were hired. Sister Helen Margaret Schad, C.D.P. was the first principal.
The present Rectory located at 401 21st Street was completed in 1959. In 1965 the Convent located at 580 Chester Street was purchased. In 1968 the Providence property was purchased to provide a site for the building of a new Church.
On June 22, 1969, Monsignor Olinger died and was succeeded by Monsignor Frederick J. Lyons in July 1969.
When Monsignor Lyons arrived a Church building was still needed. The first Church was remodeled to bring the Sanctuary into conformity with the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council.
Under Monsignor Lyons’ pastorate the new Church building was completed in September 1974. The Kindergarten-Science Lab Wing and a Junior High were added to the school. A Music building was attached to the Madonna Room. Our Lady’s Manor, a home for the retired is sponsored by Our Lady of Prompt Succor Parish through a loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This fine apartment complex was completed in November 1983.
Buildings are tangible evidence of growth and development, but they do not tell the whole story. The faith and spirituality of the parish is witnessed also by the number of vocations since 1947 of Sisters and Priests: Sisters Patricia Ann Kimball; Janez Schonfeld; Cecile Clare Vanderlick; Virginia Lee Vanderlick; Dale VanGossen and Margaret Ann Verzwyvelt, all belonging to the Congregation of Divine Providence; Monsignors John Wakeman and Steve Testa; Fathers Terry Allen, John Brocato, Ellis Depriest, Peter Faulk, Ryan Humphries, Luke LaFleur, Ken Mathews, Phil Michiels, Bruce Miller, Brian Seiler, Pike Thomas, Bill Provosty and Dutch Voltz.
Monsignor Steve J. Testa was appointed administrator of the Parish July 1, 1983 and Pastor on January 16, 1984. During his pastorate the Phillips property located behind the school was finally purchased after many years of negotiations. The houses were moved and the property converted to much needed playground space for the school. The house next door to the Rectory was also purchased during this time and renovated into a Youth House.
Monsignor Testa continued to support already existing organizations and committees. Also during his pastorate the HOST program, Scripture Sharing, Parish Suppers, Vacation Bible School and a Capital Fund Campaign were established with a five-year plan for capital improvements. With monies pledged through this campaign the Madonna Room was renovated into four meeting rooms and a central air/heat system was installed in the school along with some bathroom and classroom improvements.
On July 1, 1993 Father H. Gerald Bordelon was appointed the new Pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church but due to a heart attack was unable to begin his assignment until September. During his absence Bishop Sam G. Jacobs appointed himself Administrator. When Father Bordelon was able to return to work as our new Pastor he introduced a new program, the Neo-Catechumenate Way. It was during his tenure as Pastor that a Capital Campaign was initiated to add much needed classroom space to the school. The parish raised $450,000 and with some existing funds built four additional classrooms and two additional bathrooms which added two new wings to our school building. He also established the present Life Teen program which reaches our High School age parishioners.
On July 1, 1999 Father Scott Chimino was appointed the new Pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church and guided us through the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000. He stayed with the parish until June 30, 2001.
On July 1, 2001 Father Victor Vead was appointed the new Pastor of Prompt Succor Church until June 30, 2002. Father Vead began renovations on the Church sound and lighting systems.
On July 1, 2002 Father Daniel P. O’Connor was appointed the new Pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church. Father Dan served as Parochial Vicar at OLPS as a newly ordained priest from 1990-92.
By 2006 the number of parish ministries had grown to a point that a reorganization took place, dividing the ministries into commissions. After some tweaking of the nine original commissions, they settled into seven – including Buildings and Maintenance, Spirituality and Education, Parish and Family Life, Communication, Liturgy, Hospitality and Community Service.
With the growing number of ministries exceeding 40, there was a need for more meeting space, a larger youth facility, a hall for large gatherings and wedding receptions and for a commercial kitchen. In 2008 a Capital Campaign was initiated to raise funds to construct a facility between the school and the Madonna Complex. The “Where We Belong” campaign was kicked off with a song written for the campaign by our own music minister, Josh Blakesley. The “Divine Providence Center” needed a second campaign to raise the needed funds and in 2014, the “A Tradition of Faith, Held in Trust for the Future” campaign was initiated to fully fund the project. An auxiliary parking lot was built on 21st Street across from the existing parking lot to accommodate the growing need for parking. The Divine Providence Center was opened in April 2013 and was named in honor of the Sisters of the Divine Providence who had served the parish and school so faithfully since the founding of OLPS.
Also, in 2008, Father Dan contracted with ACTS Missions to bring the ACTS retreat movement to the parish. Since its inception 10 years ago, there have been over 45 retreats and more than 1,500 retreatants who have benefitted from this spiritual and parish renewal focusing on adoration, community, theology and service. OLPS has also “missioned” the ACTS retreats to numerous parishes across the state from Shreveport to Lafayette.
In 2016, the old Life House was renamed the St. Timothy Center and was made available for groups to use for additional meeting space. In 2017, the St. Timothy Center became the resource center for the St. Timothy Food Pantry and the Blessing Box benefitting the indigent in our area.
The parish is currently renovating the “old” church (now named Olinger Hall) to benefit the special educational needs and the drama productions of the school. By early 2019 the facility had new floors, ceilings, updated HVAC and bathrooms.
Plans are also in place to renovate the disabled accessible entry to the church by adding a beautiful stained-glass window and new canopy in the courtyard area between the church and the Madonna Complex.