100 Continuous Years of the Christian Brothers in the New Orleans Area

Brother Joseph Fabiano, FSC, recently traveled to New Orleans with a group of Christian Brothers from California to celebrate the order’s centennial anniversary serving the area.

In this reflection, Br. Joseph shares the Christian Brothers’ persistence in the face of adversity—from an early misunderstanding with a local Bishop to losing many members of their community to yellow fever—and chronicles their refusal to let a few obstacles get in the way of their commitment to serving the people of New Orleans.

French influence and colonization in North America (1534-1803) took advantage of the river routes from the St. Lawrence River through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to the delta, in spite of the failures of French entrepreneurs and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. For the French people remaining on the Mississippi, Bishop DuBourg (1815-1826), now residing in St. Louis, obtained the help of four Brothers from Montreal to open a school at Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Against the tradition of Brotherly teamwork and community, DuBourg separated each of the Brothers from one another. This separation directly contributed to the demise of the Brothers in the territory.

In 1856, the Brothers were again invited to open schools, this time in the New Orleans area. Alas, because of yellow fever in the Gulf area (1817-1905), a majority of the Brothers succumbed to the disease.  

Brothers In Nola

Then in 1918, four Brothers (both French and Mexican) arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana, back again in the New Orleans area. Continuing to this day, the Brothers and the following schools are located and prosper in this area: St. Paul’s in Covington; Archbishop Rommel’s in Metairie; Christian Brothers Academy and De La Salle in New Orleans.

This past summer on July 28 at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, a contingent of  California Brothers joined up with their confreres in the SFNO District to celebrate the 100 Continuous Years of the Brothers in the New Orleans area. The awesome celebration consisted of a commemorative Mass in the historic St. Louis Cathedral with the homily by the Archbishop Rodi of Mobile, Alabama (an alumnus of De La Salle High School, NOLA),  followed by a civic reception and touring on the Natchez paddle-wheel ferry boat on the Mississippi River. The celebration culminated with a viewing of the historical exhibit about the New Orleans Brothers in the landmark Ursuline Convent.

The photo (above right) shows the contingent of the California Brothers who joined in celebrating the 100 Continuous Years of the Brothers in the New Orleans area.

Located in the

Heart of the city