Historic St. Stephen Catholic Church To Break Ground On $6.2M Restoration, Anonymous Donor Pledges $1M

St. Stephen Catholic Church, 1025 Napoleon Ave.

NEW ORLEANS – Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction for the long-awaited restoration of historic Uptown St. Stephen Church on Wednesday, June 7, at the church entrance, 1025 Napoleon Ave., at 10:00 a.m.

         St. Stephen, the seat of Good Shepherd Parish, serves a diverse congregation of 1,500, church reps said. The church originally dates back to 1868 and is the last of the historic Archdiocesan churches to undergo restoration, they said. The current German Gothic church was completed in 1887 and is noted for its iconic spire and historically significant organ and stained glass windows. The architectural paragon has long required a restoration, suffering from over a hundred years of wear and damage from water intrusion, church reps said.

         “Past generations provided this beautiful church for us, and it has served our community for 130 years,” said Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty, pastor. “It is up to us to halt the deterioration which threatens it so that it can be used for Sacred Worship for another 130 years.”

         After careful planning, a $6.2 million capital campaign led by Michael Riess and Msgr. Nalty was launched in May of 2016. Within the time frame of one year, St. Stephen has reached 85 percent of the $6.2 million fundraising goal through private donations from parishioners and members of the community dedicated to the Catholic Church and historic preservation. The project also qualifies for the use of historic tax credits, church reps said.

         Commenting on the fundraising success, Msgr. Nalty said, “Many thought we would be unable to attain such a lofty fundraising goal, but trusting in the Lord is our business here. We trusted, and He has provided, thanks to the generosity of His people.”

          The church’s campaign benefitted from a seed gift of $500,000 to springboard its fundraising launch. In conjunction with the ground breaking ceremony, the donor who made this original gift has announced an additional gift of $500,000 to serve as a challenge grant and will match donations dollar for dollar up to $500,000. The grant is designed to incentivize donations that will bring the campaign to a successful conclusion, church reps said.

         The donor who wishes to remain anonymous said, “While neither a New Orleans native nor a member of Good Shepherd Parish, for reasons of faith and otherwise, St. Stephen’s Church has become for me a place of hope and sanctuary. I will be pleased to see this beautiful house of God restored to its proper state and hope that donors throughout the community will be moved to help us finish the fundraising needed to honor this important sacred place and treasured landmark.”

         The ground breaking signals the start of construction on the project, church reps said. Donahue-Favret has been selected as contractor and noted preservation specialist Peter Trapolin of Trapolin-Peer Architects is the architect, church reps said.

         In addition to Archbishop Aymond and Good Shepherd Parish leadership, campaign Chair Michael Riess and lead donors will be on hand to put the first shovels in the ground.

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