Rebirth on the Bayou

Almost seven years after it was swamped by Katrina, St. Genevieve Catholic Church on Bayou Liberty has been rebuilt. I pass the church on my daily commute, so I watched in January 2007 as they demolished the old church , built in 1958. I have followed and chronicled her rebirth for the past five years .

On January 15, 2012 St. Genevieve opened to her parishoners. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

This is what she looked like before Katrina

During the groundbreaking in October of 2010, parishioners were asked to place a small amount of dirt from their home into the groundbreaking hole in celebration of their unity.

The doors to the church were donated by Dr. John Breaux and were produced in Honduras. They depict the history of the parish from the time it was a mission until the present new church.

In 1852, a brick chapel was built by Mrs. Anatole Cousin on land she donated.

In 1914, Father Francis Balay renovated the old church and rededicated it

In 1950s another Bayou Liberty Church – St. Linus – was merged with St. Genevieve

In 1958, a new church building was built and dedicated Dec. 28 by Reverend Joseph Rummel.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the church. Immediately following the storm, Mass was celebrated under an oak tree for several weeks and then in the parish hall.

It was such a good feeling to see the old steeple rising toward the heavens again

The original stained glass windows are used in the new church (photo by Slidell Sentry News)

The altar looks out over Bayou Liberty

The old Chapel is shown here after the church was razed

And now the Chapel is once again united with the church

After Katrina, St. Genevieve’s pastor is quoted as saying: “The church is not the building, but the people, we are the church.”
~ Reverend Roel Lungay

I salute the strength and faith parishioners of St. Genevieve and congratulate them on this long-time coming occasion.


3 thoughts on “Rebirth on the Bayou

  1. Looking at a closer picture of the old chapel I discovered the plate wearing the name of a Alfred A Mayer saying that he erected this chapel in 1961. Moreover it indicates that the name of the chapel is now “Sacred Heart”.
    As far as I can remember,in 1852 Mrs Anatole Cousin named it St Genevieve in memory of her mother Genevieve Dubuisson.
    Am I wrong ?
    One of the mahogany door panels of the new church shows that chapel in 1914 after it was rebuilt by Fr.Balay,O.S.B.
    It can be also seen in a booklet published in 1933 that traces his life as a born builder pastor.
    So do you know what was really erected by Mr Mayer ?

    Thank you Judy for any info you have on that point.

  2. Hi, Jean Pierre! I still have that book you sent me, thank you again. In all the research I’ve done, I find that Anatole Cousin named it St. Genevieve. This weekend I plan to go to the Bayou and take some pictures of the chapel for you. Hope all is well.

    • Hi Judyb54,
      My family has owned the house downstream from St. Genevieve Church, just past the Schenk (previously Viosca) property for generations. One of my fondest memories (dating back over 50 years) is being one of the kids running down the dirt road (Pichon Road then) to Mass on Sunday mornings. We always wore our old sneakers but carried “Sunday shoes” to change into for Mass. I also remember the afternoon treat, after all chores were done, of walking to Pichon’s store for a Popsicle to split with one of my brothers! I would LOVE to visit with you and other “old-time” residents about life on the Bayou. Please contact me at There is so much important history to share!

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