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Ascension of Our Lord Church in Donaldsonville celebrates 250th anniversary

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church, shown at 716 Mississippi Street in Donaldsonville, celebrated its 250th anniversary.

Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in Donaldsonville marked its 250th anniversary with a weeklong celebration that culminated with a special event April 15.

Held at the church located at 716 Mississippi St., the event included a concert by The Lafourche Chorale, a Mass, outdoor reception, and the sale of the Taste & See historical cookbook.

The Lafourche Chorale is composed of singers and musicians from 10 area churches.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan gives a proclamation to Rev. Matthew Dupre marking the 250th anniversary of Ascension of Our Lord Church in Donaldsonville.

Rev. Matthew Dupre received a proclamation from Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan during the April 13 Facebook Live program.

"We wanted to mark this very historical moment in the life of our church parish, but also the community as well. It is of course a very special occasion, and we want to recognize all that God has done for us, and all that God continues to do for us," he said.

Dupre also credited the committee members who assisted in preparing for the celebration.

In a letter, Bishop Michael Duca of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge extended his congratulations and blessings on the occasion.

"Over these 250 years, there have been many joys and challenges. What has remained constant is the faith of the parishioners of your church community," Duca wrote.

During the Mass, the bishop said it was a joy to celebrate the establishment of the parish.

Ascension of Our Lord Church history

Surrounded by oaks and crepe myrtles along the west bank of the Mississippi River, the church was founded in 1772 by order of King Charles III of Spain.

According to the church's website, the church remained a center of faith through the decades - under the flags of Spain, France, the Territory of Louisiana, the Confederacy and the United States of America.

The construction of the first small chapel is unknown, but Acadians began to settle in the area in 1758. Records indicate a small mission chapel was built for the settlement Sept. 10, 1770.

As other churches along the river, the church was served by a missionary priest who traveled by boat.

Father Angelus Revillogodos, a Fransican Capuchin Missionary priest, dedicated the church parish to Ascension of Our Lord Aug. 15, 1772, which was 34 years prior to William Donaldson founding Donaldsonville.

The officials name in Spanish was La Iglesia de la Ascension de Nostro Senor Jesu Cristo da Lafourche de los Chetimaches.

Translated to English, the name refers to the Chetimaches Indian tribe which inhabited the junction of the river and Bayou Lafourche.

Ascension Parish derives its name from the Catholic church parish.

A trove of historical information can be found at the church's website as well as its Facebook page, Donaldsonville Catholics.

Louis "Boo" LeBlanc and Dave LeBlanc authored articles chronicling the church's history.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at and