Photography by John DeMajo and Kathleen DeMajo Adams

Elysian Fields at Prentiss, New Orleans, LA.

Original photo by John DeMajo, Retouching by Robert Heinsheimer

This page has been allowed to remain as an historical perspective on this church. After Hurricane Katrina, the church was renamed and merged with other congregations from closed churches in the area. The new parish, while operating in this same building, is now called Transfiguration Catholic Church. In that process of merger, the inside features of the building were modified drastically. We therefore felt that the original St. Raphael Church site should remain accessible in order that photographs of the original church interior would remain available to persons seeking this historical information.

Historic photo of Interior of church as it was originally constructed.
St. Raphael Parish began as an outgrowth of a missionary chapel that was located on the WW-II air field constructed at the former Milneburg. The land along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain was reclaimed, in the 1930's, by the WPA, and a portion the resulting dry land that was formed as part of this project, was put to use during World War II for the construction of a Navy air base. At the end of the War, the mission church had acquired a larger congregation as the Gentilly and Lakefront areas began to see drastically increased post-war real estate development. At that time, a new St. Raphael church was constructed on land located at the corner of Elysian Fields and Prentiss Avenues. The church building is pictured in the second photo below. At that time, a temporary rectory was also constructed, and the late Msgr. Vernon Peter Aleman (1907-2000) was assigned as the church's permanent pastor. Under Msgr. Aleman's administration, the church enjoyed a great period of growth. A school was built as was a convent to house the Sisters Of Christian Charity who operated the new school. In the late 1950's, the parish began construction on a new church that is the building shown above. St. Raphael Parish remained as one of the mainstays of the Gentilly neighborhood.
Above, the Milneburg chapel that served as the first St. Raphael Church. Below, the interim church which was located at the Prentiss and Elysian Fields site of the present church. The Hammond RT3 organ, and the choir, were located on a slightly raised wooden platform at the rear of the church to the immediate right of the entrance door.
The history of instruments at St. Raphael Church began with installation of a Hammond RT-3 concert model electronic organ in the previous church, which was a wooden chapel that was constructed on the present church property fronting Prentiss street approximately 100 feet off of the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue. That organ was relocated to the new church when it was completed. Later, a first generation Allen digital organ was installed. At some point, that instrument was replaced with a later model Allen digital. The present status of musical instruments, following the parish merger, is not known at this time.


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