History of the Parish
Archbishop Phillip M. Hannan established St. Martha Parish in Harvey, Louisiana on June 15, 1973. Fr. Anton Perkovic was named the first pastor of the new parish. The parish was established to accommodate new subdivisions on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. The established boundaries of the parish were North – Gretna Boulevard, East Manhattan Boulevard, South – Bay Barataria, and West – The Harvey Canal.
The first weekly bulletin was published on June 29, 1973, and was distributed to a small group of parishioners at the first Sunday mass which was celebrated at Helen Cox Middle School. Daily mass was at first celebrated in the homes of the parishioners. The sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony were celebrated at Infant Jesus of Prague Church, the parish from which St. Martha was formed.
In 1975 a new rectory was built and became the site of the daily mass with an average of five people in attendance.
In 1976, a new multi-purpose building was blessed and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass continued to be celebrated in this building for almost thirty years. Also that same year St. Martha had its first parish fair. Fr. Perkovic remained at St. Martha Parish for Twenty-one years until his retirement June , 1994.
Following Fr. Perkovic’s retirement, Fr. William O’Riordan, known to all as Fr. Billy, was appointed as pastor by Archbishop Francis B. Schulte. Fr. Billy was welcomed as the second pastor of St. Martha Parish on July 19, 1994, the Feast of St. Martha. Under the patronage of St. Martha and the leadership of Fr. Billy and his staff, St. Martha Parish outgrew the multi-purpose building and plans were developed for the building of a new church. Newly ordained Deacon Leslie Vincent was appointed to St. Martha Parish in 1996. That same year Kathy Richard also was hired as our first Director of Religious Education.
1998 saw the publication of our first parish pictorial directory. That same year St. Martha celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary as a parish.
Parishioner Jerry Labadot was ordained a deacon in 1999 and was assigned to St. Martha Parish. Deacon Leslie Vincent was re-assigned to another parish.
The year 2000 turned out to be a banner year for St. Martha Parish. Archbishop Francis B. Schulte proposes the building of a new permanent church to accommodate six hundred people and a Building Committee was formed to plan this undertaking. Archbishop Schulte blessed the land for the new church building and parishioners brought soil form their own homes to symbolize the oneness of our church.
The year 2002 saw the pouring of the foundation for the new St. Martha Church. The celebration of the Eucharist and the dedication of our new church and altar were held on Friday June 6, 2003. Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes acted as presider and celebrant. We are truly a church built of hopes and dreams and visions. A second deacon, Deacon Dr. Peter Gittens was assigned to our parish in December 2002.
Our third and current pastor, Rev. Lich Van Nguyen came to us March 13, 2004. Our parish continues to grow and flourish. We currently have over 800 registered families and twenty-seven different ministries.
June 2005 we launched our website, stmarthaharvey.com, as another channel to communicate with our congregation. During the catastrophe of hurricane Katrina it proved to be a valuable link to keep many of the parishioners informed of what was going on back at St. Martha’s. It also helped parishioners locate fellow parishioners and friends.
St. Martha is known as the patroness of housewives, hoteliers, cooks, waiters and waitresses. We, the parish of St Martha embrace her and have followed in her footsteps. We are known for our hospitality, friendliness and service. We live our theme song every day, All Are Welcome, by exhibiting a strong sense of community that embraces all who come to our church.