Borromeo’s history dates back to before Declaration of Independence
Fr. Harry Bugler stands in front of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. He has been with the church, which is a place of worship for more than 2,300 families, since 2001.
What was once a small log chapel built on the riverbank in 1722 now boasts over 2,300 church families and is the second oldest parish in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The parish was founded 53 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed and five years before the city of New Orleans had a Catholic church.
The original St. Charles Borromeo was built by German settlers in what is now Destrehan.
The church cemetery holds tombs that date back to the 1700s, including the original Destrehan family tomb.
The history of the church is alive in the buildings and grounds, but Bugler said it is the people who make the parish truly special.
“The people and their faith make (this parish) unique,” said Fr. Harry Bugler, who joined the church in 2001. “They are people of strong faith. They are very willing to be involved and take a strong sense of ownership of their parish.”
With thousands of families belonging to the church, many parish ministries are possible.
A few of the parish’s strongest ministries include its school that goes through 8th grade, the Fountain of Youth group and donating to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Bugler said. Members also contribute Christmas gifts and Thanksgiving food baskets to less fortunate families.
“There are a huge amount of ministries in our parish,” he said.
The parish began adding school buildings in 1929 and the Pierre F. Friloux Early Childhood Development Center was opened in 1994.
While the current parish church was completed in 1978, visitors can still view a replica of the “Little Red Church” that stood on the grounds from 1806-1921.
The church offers services for baptism, marriage, care of the sick and funerals.
“It is our faith which is a gift to us from God that gives meaning and purpose to our lives,” Bugler said. “This is a community of faith. Our first priority is to form our younger members in the faith and to be an example of holiness and integrity to all others.”
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