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A Brief History of St. Aloysius Catholic Church
In the 1950s, greater Baton Rouge experienced unprecedented socioeconomic development, a growth that only increased the number of Catholics in the area. At the start of the decade, Baton Rouge encompassed nine Catholic churches, St. Aloysius did not yet exist, and the city’s churches were still part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Just ten years later, the city hosted fifteen churches and the Diocese of Baton Rouge was imminent.
To accommodate the rapid growth the Archdiocese, under the leadership of Archbishop Rummel, began to lay the groundwork for St. Aloysius in 1954. That year, the parish charter was signed at Arnaud’s in New Orleans, and five acres of land were purchased in Southdowns to house the forthcoming St. Aloysius Catholic Church. By the summer of 1955, St. Aloysius’ boundaries had been carved out of what had previously been St. Agnes and Sacred Heart, and 625 Catholic families lived within them.
While the founding families of St. Aloysius attended Sunday mass at Southdowns Elementary School in late 1955, roughly two hundred volunteers raised money to pay to construct a church and school. By the next summer, construction on the first school building (along with a temporary church) was complete. In the fall of 1956, the school officially opened to an enrollment of 260 students.
The 1960s marked a period of continued growth and major milestones. Among these major events were:
1961: the Diocese of Baton Rouge was formed
1962: Bishop Tracy appointed St. Aloysius’ first associate pastor, Father Peter Jenniskens
1963: Town Construction completed a second school building and the convent to house to Daughters of Jesus in 1963
1964: the first class of students who attended 1st through 8th grade at SAS graduated
1965-1967: the first Parish Council and Education Board formed
The constant growth seen in the 1950s and 1960s continued through the 1970s as construction focused on a rectory, gymnasium, and parish offices. By the parish’s Silver Jubilee in 1980s, the staff included three priests, a director of religious education, a school principal, a social responsibility director and a youth minister, all of whom reported to the pastor, Father Guy Marcel, and hired to accommodate a growing parish of twelve hundred families.
The mid-1980s ushered in what many consider to be the modern era of St. Aloysius. In 1985 Bishop Stanley Ott appointed Fr. Hubert Brou as the third pastor of St. Aloysius, and John Bennett began a thirty-year tenure as principal of the school. Morover, the Child Care Center opened a year later in 1986 and became known as the diocese’s only full-time parish child care center until after the turn of the century.