In the summer of 1891, the Most Reverend Antoine Durier, the third bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Natchitoches, Louisiana, wrote a letter to Father I. E. Chauvin, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Mansura, Louisiana. In his letter, the Bishop expressed his great concern for the spiritual welfare for the people of Norma, Louisiana and its vicinity. Father Chauvin was well known to all these people as he would visit them from time to time on horseback and in buggy. In his periodic visitations to the people of Norma, now Hessmer, Louisiana, he would baptize the children and convalidate the civil marriages of the people.
About the time of Bishop Durier’s letter, Father Alphonse Blomme of Roulers, Belgium, came into the Diocese of Natchitoches. (The See of the Diocese of Natchitoches was changed to the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana, on August 6, 1910 by the Most Reverend Cornelius Van de Ven, the fourth bishop of the Diocese.)
Father Alphonse Blomme was assigned assistant pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church, Mansura. Father Chauvin, the pastor, gave to Father Blomme the duty to attend to the spiritual needs of the people of Norma. With the assistance of the Catholic men of Norma, Father Blomme built a little chapel. This chapel was a wooden building of some twenty-five feet in length. This chapel served as a church until 1904, when Father Blomme built the first church. As soon as the church was completed, a rectory was built next to the church. The building of the church and rectory were made possible by a generous gift of nine arpents of land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Abel V. Roy.
On December 12, 1927, Father Alphonse Blomme died. Since that time, twelve priests of the Diocese have served as pastors of St. Alphonsus Church. These priests were Fathers J. L. Mahussier, Robert M. Maure, M. Ludger Plauché, Michael Prevot, Francis O. Couvillon, Lawrence Bonin, Ronald Bordelon, Francis Joseph Rateau, William B. Provosty, James Roy, Michael Manase and at present, Fr. Edwin Rodriguez-Hernandez. Most of these priests have been called by Almighty God to their eternal reward. The priests still with us today who have served as pastors of St. Alphonsus Church are Monsignor Roland Bordelon, Fathers James Roy, Michael Manase, and Edwin Rodriguez-Hernandez.
In 1957, Msgr. Roland Bordelon began work to build a new church. It was built in a cruciform style and won a state award for architecture. The new church was completed in 1959.
Time has a way of bringing about changes, and so it is with St. Alphonsus Parish. There were many changes over the years, as some of our older parishioners can verify. There have also been changes in recent years.
Parishioners have seen improvements to the church itself, the grounds, the cemetery, the rectory, and more. The church now has a new interior look, from top to bottom. New lights were installed in the side sections, beautiful hanging lights were installed over the sanctuary, and the inside dome was painted. Even new Stations of the Cross have been added. The floor in the sanctuary is now marble tile and hardwood floors are in the remainder of the church.
At present, the cemetery has four large mausoleums and plans to enlarge one is in progress. Also, landscaping has been done throughout the church and cemetery grounds. Resurfacing of the cemetery drive with asphalt and construction of concrete horseshoe drive around the mausoleums have given added access and convenience to the cemetery and mausoleum grounds.
The interior and exterior ofthe rectory has also received a major facelift giving added comfort to the staff and visitors.
Years have passed, things have changed, but one thing still remains the same, the doors are always open to all and everyone is made to feel as a member of this wonderful church parish.