The gentlemen pictured above were the ushers in 1941 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in New Orleans. This picture was taken as part of the parish’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Celebration. Shown above are:
First row, left to right: Joseph Auzout, Matthew Hithe, Lambert Boissiere, Morris Lewis, Sr., Ruby E. Felton,Sr., Joseph L. Ellsworth, C. P. Avril, Bertrand Armstrong, Thomas Sears, Lawrence Humphrey, Leon Leduff.
Second row, left to right: Sidney Fauria, Joseph Cordiac, John Robert, Paul Domio, Adolph H. Moret, Sr., Emile Soupenne, Joe Azemard, John Wilson, Lloyd Chambers, Paul Ellsworth, Joseph M. Ellsworth and Joseph Fobbs.
Third row, left to right: Hippolyte Woods, Clement Edgerson, Edward Oliver, Nelson Stuart, Henry Davidson, James Fortune, James Skillman, Ulysses Darensbourg, George Desbordes, Marks Labat, Albert Victorianne, and John Williams. [
In 1941, Corpus Christi in New Orleans was recognized as being the largest Negro Catholic Parish in the United States. Its membership was estimated at close to 10,000 parishioners with 7,000 names having been inscribed on the parish Baptismal register. School enrollment that year was 1,350 children with another 800 public school students receiving religious instruction.
A three-day celebration was held to celebrate the parish’s growth and successes over the past twenty-five years. The celebration began on Sunday at ten o’clock with a Silver Jubilee Solemn Mass, and the Most Rev. Joseph F. Rummel, Archbishop of New Orleans, presiding and assisted on the altar by over 30 religious dignitaries.
On Monday morning, masses were held for the children of the parish with a reunion banquet for all parishioners taking place at eight o’clock in the evening in the school’s auditorium. The following parishioners spoke on various topics as it related to their community: Mr. Joseph Azemard gave the history of Corpus Christi, while Mrs. Albert Blandin covered the parish’s role as a promoter of sound family life. Dr. C.C. Haydel spoke on the health of the community and Mr. Haydel Christophe’s topic was the parish as a social center. Mr. Henry Sindos lectured on how they’ve assisted in aiding good business, followed by “The Parish, Protector of Youth” by Mr. Paul Ellsworth. The next two female speakers covered the topics of young womanhood and culture. They were Miss Adele DeLaRose and Miss Alvirda Gaspard. The closing speech, given by Mr. Adolph Moret Sr., was entitled “What the Parish Expects from the Generation It Has Trained.”
Tuesday, was the final day of celebration. Here again masses were held for all their deceased parishioners including the deceased Josephite Fathers and Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament who had dedicated years of their lives to educating students of Corpus Christi School and ministering to the needs of its community. Finally, on Tuesday evening a talent show was held in the school’s auditorium to culminate the entire three-day celebration.
When Corpus Christi School opened, it had an enrollment of 300 as compared to its enrollment of 1350 in 1941. Housed at first in temporary buildings, the children moved into their new and permanent school in 1919. Funds for building the school were obtained from parishioners, material was donated by local business men, and mechanics of the parish gave their labor free. The school’s auditorium served as parish church for the next 11 years. Having been founded in 1916, the church grew rapidly over the next 10 years. So much so that several more parishes had to be carved from the original Corpus Christi territory in order to meet the needs of the large growing Catholic population in this downtown section of the city. Two of those new parishes were Saint Peter Claver and Saint Raymond.
Unfortunately, Corpus Christi School closed its doors after the devastations brought on by Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, its historical church still remains open and continues to serve the needs of their community.
Source: The Louisiana Weekly, 6 December 1941, page 9.
Lolita V. Cherrie