Pastor: Fr. Thomas Clark, SJ
Situated in the Scotlandville neighborhood of Baton Rouge, La., the mission of Immaculate Conception Church is to serve the Black Catholic community of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
While most parishioners come from nearby, its welcoming atmosphere attracts parishioners from all over the Baton Rouge metropolitan area and even as far away as Baker and New Orleans.
As Scotlandville grew in the mid-20th century, Catholics in the area sought to have their own church. The parish was founded in 1953 and was initially led by the Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a religious order ministering primarily to African Americans.
Many members of the parish community were bricklayers and carpenters and took great pride in building the parish with their own hands. The present community built upon that legacy by renovating the church in 2019, adding a spacious foyer to the existing structure and transforming and modernizing the worship space. The Josephite Fathers ministered at the church until 1981, when the Society of Jesus assumed the ministry.
Immaculate Conception Today
With a membership of approximately 700 families, Immaculate Conception continues its tradition of worship, community and service. A vibrant Sunday liturgy with Gospel choirs raises praise and glory to God. Prayer and spiritual growth are fostered through Bible Study, small faith sharing communities, a Rosary group and the Nineteenth Annotation Retreat in the Real World. The parish is a tight knit community, embracing elders, young families, single adults and students from nearby Southern University.
The church is dedicated to serving its community. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and Food Pantry assist struggling families. The Knights and Ladies of Peter Claver generously support many projects in the parish. Immaculate Conception joins with other churches and neighborhood groups such as Together Baton Rouge and Community against Drugs and Violence to work for social justice.
During the pandemic, the church has ventured into livestreaming its Masses, conducting meetings and Bible Study on Zoom, and finding creative ways to continue the food pantry while maintaining social distancing. All the efforts have paved the way for evangelization now and in the future.
In 2019, the church’s motto during the renovation was “Renovate the Church and Renovate Ourselves.” Trusting in God’s goodness and discerning the signs of the times, members of Immaculate Conception Church seek to renovate themselves so that they can continue to do God’s will for His greater glory.