St. Alphonsus Church in the Irish Channel is one of the “Redemptorist” churches.
St. Alphonsus Church
Photo by Franck Studios of St. Alphonsus Church on Constance Street in the Irish Channel. HNOC dates the photo at 1953, but some of their records are off. I’m not good at dating photos based on automobiles, so hopefully some of y’all can confirm this. St. Alphonsus is one of the three churches in the “Redemptorist parish” that contains most of the Irish Channel neighborhood. The Irish community built this church, with the German community building St. Mary’s, across the street.
French, Irish, and Germans
The Archdiocese of New Orleans invited the Redemptorist fathers to staff a new parish, in the city’s Irish Channel neighborhood. While the Irish get top billing in the area’s name, German immigrants lived there in numbers. The archdiocese created an Irish parish, St. Patrick’s on Camp Street, in 1833. The German community received St. Mary’s Assumption Parish in 1843. The Germans built a small wood church on the corner of Constance and Josephine Streets. The Irish desired a separate church for their community. They built St. Alphonsus Church in 1857. Not to be outdone, the Germans replaced the small church with a building rivaling St. Alphonsus.
Even though the two communities operated separate churches, the Redemptorists staffed the parish. They said Mass in both, and ministered to both communities. The parish built a school on the St. Alphonsus Church side of the street. The School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school.
There was a third church, Notre Dame de Bon Secours (Our Lady of Prompt Succor), for the Francophone community. That church burned down. The community chose not to re-build it, blending themselves into the other church communities.
By the 1970s, the parish struggled with maintaining two cathedral-size churches in a single parish. The dynamics of the neighborhood changed. The archdiocese closed St. Alphonsus in 1979. The archbishop “deconsecrated” it in the 1980s. They turned ownership of the church to a community group. That group operates the building as a historical site and community center. The school continues as part of St. Mary’s.