Welcome to Mary, Mother of Jesus Church
Records show that on July, 1908, Bishop Van de Ven blessed a chapel in Woodworth, which is believed to be St. Joseph Chapel located where Mary, Mother of Jesus Church stands today. The chapel was a mission of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
In 1926, Woodworth was a thriving sawmill town. But after all the trees had been cut down and there was nothing more to harvest, the sawmill relocated to Bessmae, Texas and so did many of the Catholic people.
By 1927, St. Joseph chapel had ceased its services, forcing the remaining Catholic families to attend Mass at nearby St. Martin Church in Lecompte or St. Frances Cabrini Church in Alexandria. Sadly, some did not continue with their faith in protest at the dismantling of St. Joseph Church.
In 1953, Father Gerard J. Ducote, the second pastor of Cabrini Church, wrote to Bishop Charles P. Greco and pointed out that there had been no Catholic services in Woodworth since 1927. The letter mentioned by name, 21 families in the area who were actively attending Mass in nearby parishes, as well as 20 more previously inactive Catholic families in the area, who all promised cooperation and attendance in a Catholic Church in Woodworth. Father Ducote and Bishop Greco were energized at the prospect of doubling participation.
Later in 1953, a used military building from Camp Claiborne was moved on to a property located one lot from Hwy 165 and Robinson Bridge. St. Catherine was established as a mission of Cabrini Church.
In 1962, with the backing of Msgr. Ducote and under the direction of Father Joseph LeSage Tisch, plans were made to build a larger church at the location of the former St. Joseph Chapel. The new church was completed in 1963, re-named Mary, Mother of Jesus Church, and became a mission of St. Martin Church in Lecompte. Father Peter Norek was its first pastor.
St. Catherine mission closed in 1969 and the property was sold to the town of Woodworth. Additional property at MMJ was obtained on July 14, 1976 on which a hall was later constructed. The new hall was completed in 1987 and dedicated as “Cumella Hall” in honor of Father Anthony Cumella, one of its former pastors.
In the late 1990s, the population of Alexandria (of whom many were Catholic) shifted in great numbers to the Woodworth area. Attendance at MMJ increased and in 2008, Mary, Mother of Jesus was dedicated as a church parish by Bishop Ronald Herzog.