When the English took over all lands east of the Mississippi after 1763, Don Jose Vidal abandoned his concession near Natchez, Mississippi, and received a land grant across the river in Spanish Louisiana. He built a new plantation called ‘Concord'. His brother, Fr. Matteo Vidal, offered mass for Catholics living in the area in Don Jose's private chapel. This small chapel was abandoned after the Spanish relinquished control of Louisiana back to France.

It was not until 1887 that the rector of St. Mary's Cathedral in Natchez secured permission from Bishop Durier to minister regularly to the Catholics in Vidalia. Fr. Theophile Meerschaert laid the ground work for the new parish which he dedicated in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. The first resident pastor, Fr. J. H. Cartissier, arrived in 1887. He and his assistant, Fr. Francis Grosse, worked in the area without a church or rectory.

In 1890, Fr. Peter Cooney arrived as pastor. Fr. Cooney built the first church and rectory before his death in 1895.

For the next 7 years the parish was administered by priests from the Natchez cathedral.

In 1902, Bishop Durier sent a newly ordained priest, Fr. Nicholas Vandergaer, to Vidalia for his first assignment. He organized the Ladies Altar Society that same year. In 1907, he was replaced by Fr. Charles F. Degan, a native of New York, who served the parish until his death in 1923.

Fr. Francis Xavier Kronemeyer, a German native, served as pastor from 1923 till his death in 1949. He gathered in Catholics from the surrounding areas and opened five missions in nearby communities. He was pastor during the upheaval that followed when the whole town was removed from its original site to make way for a new levee in 1939-1940.

During Msgr. Terrance Lennon's pastorate (1951-1957), a new brick church was built and dedicated on December 8, 1954. Fr. Matthew Scallan added a new rectory and hall to the parish complex. A Third Order Carmelite cell or group was organized by Fr. Scallan in 1958 and canonically established in the parish 10 years later. Msgr. Scallan organized the first parish council in 1968. A special mass celebrated by Bishop Favalora and Fr. Harvey Fortier marked the parish's 100th anniversary in 1987.

Administrative Staff

Map Info: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Vidalia 31.568395 -91.429041