- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

ROSARYVILLE, La. (AP) - The church is there, with a brand new steeple. A few more months of work will make it ready for people.

The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel, built in the early 20th century by an Irish Dominican priest, now sits in its new home at the Rosaryville Spirit Life Center, being repaired to be used as a youth chapel and for events.

“We’re renovating it,” said Suzette Callais, Rosaryville director. “We have gutted it to put in all new wiring and insulation.”

The Rosaryville staff hope the chapel will be finished and functional by the first of September, Callais said.

“We will replace all the original pews and statues, altars, everything that was in there before,” she said. “We want to restore it back to the original state. The interior and exterior will be put back to the state people remember…. People were married here, were baptized here. It’s pretty cool.”

All the work has been done by Rosaryville maintenance staff. Rainy weather and issues with fire codes slowed the work after the chapel was first delivered in October.

“With the rainy weather, it’s been really hard,” she said. “They scraped off all the paint down to the original wood. They did repairs to the porch area, put on a new steeple, a new roof. We put in all new windows and a door to make sure the sealing will be proper. We’re trying our best to get it done.”

The chapel holds 60 people and has a small stage with an altar table.

The chapel was originally built in Manchac by an Irish Dominican priest, Father John L. Curran, who served as a pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church and in World War II as a chaplain for the troops.

Father Curran used cypress from the Manchac trestle bridge donated by the railroad. The chapel aged and was moved to the Pugh family’s land in Ponchatoula for many years before being donated to Rosaryville.

“It’s small, but it’s beautiful,” Callais said.

Funerals and weddings will be welcome there upon its completion, but the chapel’s main use will be for the youth when they have retreats at Rosaryville, she said.

It will help avoid conflicts with scheduling when camps are in session and be a closer place for the youth when they meet in Kateri Hall, she said.

“I feel it’s an important part of the community in Ponchatoula and in Manchac,” Callais said. “I feel like we are resurrecting a chapel. We want to restore what we can and treasure the history of what’s there.”

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Information from: The Daily Star, http://www.hammondstar.com

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