Our Parish History
Our Lady of the Lake Parish has been serving the Mandeville and Northshore area for over 150 years. In the beginning of our country’s history, the United States was considered mission territory, and many priests from around Europe came here to evangelize. The Reverend Joseph Outendirck, a native of Belgium, was appointed the first pastor of the Church of Mandeville. After Fr. Joseph Outendirck there were many mission priests who served Mandeville. The Benedictines would eventually take over Our Lady of the Lake in the early 20th century and would establish the parish school under the Rev. E.J. Lavaquery. The first religion teachers were the Sisters of Christian Charity. Due to conflicts with the sisters, Rev. J.C. Schmitt would ask the Benedictine sisters at St. Scholastica convent to teach the students, but as the school grew, more and more lay faculty would be needed. Under the Benedictine priest Fr. Canisius Bleumel, the present church and chapel, (an outdoor shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help) were dedicated in 1953. He also played a crucial role in the development of the school, serving as a third grade teacher when needed, expanding the school’s cafeteria, and starting a hot lunch program. Fr. John LeBlanc would then serve Our Lady of the Lake from 1958-1979. He was known for his energetic demeanor and his devotion to providing children with athletics, so the school’s playground was appropriately named “Fr. John Field”. Fr John turned over his school administration duty as principal to the Benedictine sisters. In the 1970’s the Benedictine sisters would turn over the school completely to the laity, and Fr. John was the last Benedictine priest to serve Our Lady of the Lake as pastor.
In September of 1890, under the direction of a lay teacher, Father E. J. Lavaquery opened a school, which we now know as Our Lady of the Lake School. Enrollment that year was ten boys and eight girls. The Benedictine Fathers assumed care of the church in 1912, and in 1916 the Benedictine Sisters from St. Scholastica convent in Covington came to Mandeville to help build the school into what it is today. From a starting enrollment of eighteen students, Our Lady of the Lake has grown to over 800 students. Amidst the thriving public school system of St. Tammany Parish, our Parish also maintains a vibrant CCD Program, which teaches the Faith to close to 800 students as well. We have recently launched an Adult Education program, which is helping Parishioners to learn the essentials of the Faith, and to be able to speak intelligently to Catholic issues.
Our Lady of the Lake in 2015
Today Fr. Mark Lomax serves as pastor, and has continued the hard work and dedication to the people of Mandeville as he goes about his duties as pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church in the 21st century. Fr. Michael Schneller, Fr. John Talamo, Fr. Walter Austin and Fr. Rhenné Cervantes preceded as pastors. During their stewardship the new construction, begun under Msgr. Joseph Chotin, was completed and dedicated. Under Msgr. Joseph Chotin, the school, church, parish activity center, and perpetual adoration chapel all have come to be as we know it today. The school now holds a capacity of 800 students and the church continues to grow in ministries that reach out to parishioners in service. The parish activity center serves as an additional building for masses, parish gatherings, and a gymnasium. The shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is now enclosed and serves as a perpetual adoration chapel open 24 hours everyday of the year for those who are in need of prayer and mediation before the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Mark will be working to keep Our Lady of the Lake moving forward as his predecessors did and focuses on the parish mission through Prayer, the Eucharist, Education, and Service.
OLL Parish Coat of Arms
The coat of arms has several symbols that point to the rich history found at Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church. Each of these symbols attest to various elements of our liturgy, campus and church décor. The capital “M” represents Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior who we honor under the title of Our Lady of the Lake. The letters “IHS” remind us of the invaluable gift that Christ has left the Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist. The book and the quill pen signify our school which continues to be a major evangelistic tool for our parish church in spreading the gospel to God’s precious children. The ‘wheat’ bordering the coat of arms reminds us of the unleavened bread that becomes for us Jesus’ body and blood during the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Because God is triune, three persons but one God, three fleurs-de-lys adorn the crest. The fleur de lys also call to mind our rich Louisiana heritage as our culture is steeped in Royal French influence, France being the eldest daughter of the Church. The central cross at the top of the crest reminds us that our faith was given to us by Christ Himself and passed down through an unbroken succession of apostles. Together, these symbols piece together a distinct personality which is Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church.