Holy Trinity Catholic Church: History
Reverend Monsignor John C. Vandegaer (1952-1974)
In 1952 Holy Trinity Church again received a new pastor, Msgr. John C. Vandegaer, a native of Many, Louisiana. As a young man he was told that his health was not strong, nonetheless he followed his call to serve as a priest. His entire family was fervent in their love of the Church. One brother was also a priest, and a sister became a nun.
Msgr. Vandegaer served Holy Trinity for 22 years until his retirement in 1974. He was a kindly, pleasant individual and made many friends in Shrevport. During his pastorate the exterior of the church was painted with brown and white waterproof paint in an effort to slow damage to the structure caused by moisture.
For a few months after leaving Holy Trinity, Msgr. Vandegaer continued in ministry as assistant to St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport serving at St. Ann Chapel in Stonewall and residing there. He moved to a retirement cottage on the grounds of Maryhill Renewal Center, Pineville, in October 1981. He died in January 1983.
Reverend Monsignor William O'Hanlon (1974-1999)
Born in 1922 at Mallow, Ballysimon in Cork, Ireland. William Christopher O'Hanlon was educated in his native country at St. Colmain's and St. John's before finishing at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He was ordained by Bishop Greco into Holy Priesthood on June 11th, 1949, at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria. Monsignor O'Hanlon, the beloved pastor of Holy Trinity, will be remembered for his tireless efforts in serving the parishioners and the restoration of this beautiful church which holds such significant historical records of the Catholic faith in this area. Steadfast in his priesthood, he once said, “I was always very close to the Church.” He is uniquely and affectionately known for the Irish touch he always gave to his sermons on Mother's Day.
After 15 years of ministry in downtown Shreveport, the Holy Father appointed Monsignor O'Hanlon as Honorary Prelate in October 1989. Msgr. O'Hanlon was well known throughout Northwest Louisiana by many of the area religious and was an expert on genealogy of some Louisiana families. He also initiated a yearly celebration of the Red Mass for all those who practice law in the area. During the 140th celebration of Holy Trinity Parish, Msgr. O'Hanlon was presented with a replica of his beloved church created by one of the parishioners. It was placed at the side altar where it remains for all to view.
Holy Trinity Church was in urgent need of repair when Msgr. O'Hanlon inherited it in February 1974. With dedicated determination and sagacity, he procured the necessary funding and mixed it with capable architectural guidance as he lead a remarkable renovation of the entire exterior and interior of the church, restoring it to all of its Romanesque High Victorian and Gothic glory.
Included in the restoration were the powdering of the outside red brick surface, a new roof, new carpeting, clear plexiglass covers for all 60 stained glass windows, a restroom and a children's cry room, relocation of baptistery to left of the main altar in the sanctuary, enclosure of an entrance vestibule, modern lighting, refurbished pews, artwork restored, reversal of the worn marble front steps to present like new surfaces and the addition of new brass handrails.
Our Lady's Garden
Our Lady's Garden On the Marshall Street side, Our Lady's Garden was restored. A lighted two-tiered, fountain with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi and a statue of Mary and Child Jesus was also renewed.
Ramps for the handicapped were installed at the side entrances of the parking lot purchased in 1993. A driveway from the Marshall Street side was installed for convenient access to the rectory.
Holy Trinity, the first regularly established Catholic parish in Northwest Louisiana, is the oldest standing church structure amid downtown buildings. It was selected for its architectural excellence in May 1979 during Shreveport's Historic Preservation Week. Rededication ceremonies celebrating restoration of Holy Trinity Church were held in December 1984 with Bishop William B. Friend presiding. Holy Trinity Church was at this time entered into theNational Register of Historic Places.
Msgr. O'Hanlon was instrumental in the planning and implementation of the 140th anniversary of Holy Trinity Parish in 1996. In 1999, he observed his 50th anniversary as a priest. After serving 25 years as the 9th pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, he retired in 1999. The Rev. Msgr. O'Hanlon went to his eternal home on October 20th, 2001, and was laid to rest in his beloved St. Joseph Cemetery in Shreveport. He was interred beside the three former pastors of Holy Trinity Church who died in the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic.
Reverend Monsignor Franz Graef, STD (1999-2006)
Monsignor Franz Graef, STD, succeeded Monsignor O'Hanlon as pastor of Holy Trinity in July 1999. He was born December 6th, 1930, in Heidelberg, Germany. After graduating from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, he was ordained for the Diocese of Alexandria, La. on April 6th, 1957 by Bishop Paulus Rusch of Innsbruck.
He began his ordained ministry in January 1958 at Our Lady of Prompt Succor at Alexandria, Louisiana. He served the Alexandria Diocese and later the Diocese of Shreveport as a pastor, dean and Diocese Director of Religious Education and Greco Instruction. Archbishop Francis Schulte awarded Msgr. Graef an honorary doctorate in May 1999 for his dedication in educating seminarians and theology students at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Bishop Friend noted that the awarding of the honorary doctorate is also an honor and distinction for the Diocese of Shreveport and said, “We are all blessed that one of our priests has been afforded this recognition.”
Acknowledging Msgr. Graef's desire to return to pastoral ministry in North Louisiana, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Bishop Gregory Aymond, Rector of the Seminary, remarked, “One of his greatest gifts to me has been his personal support, friendship, good advice and wisdom.”
During his administration the installation of an upgraded sound system was accomplished in 2000. The refurbishment and expansion of the church organ with addition of digital equipment in 2003, enhanced the music of the church services. Based upon its historic importance to the Catholic community, Holy Trinity Parish was named in 2000, one of the six churches for pilgrimage in the Jubilee Year within the territory of the Diocese of Shreveport.
Reverend Monsignor Earl V. Provenza, V.F. (2006- )
On July 1st, 2006, Msgr. Earl Provenza is now our current pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.