History of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church
In the years immediately following the Civil War, Chatawa was a thriving place. The economy was centered largely in sand and gravel operations, saw milling and brick-making. During the yellow fever epidemic, wealthy people in the cities, particularly New Orleans, built large homes in the area and spent much of their time here. This was possible because in 1856, the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad extend its lines north of Osyka. In 1868, the Redemptorists of the New Orleans Province purchased land in Chatawa on which to build a seminary. In that same year a church was built, known in the early years as St. Teresa’s Chapel. The Seminary was in operation for only ten years, but during that time, the Redemptorists build St. James Mission in Magnolia. St. Joseph’s Mission in Osyka had been build two years prior to the Redemptorists coming into the area. In 1880, the School Sisters of Notre Dame bought the buildings and land from the Redemptorists and established a school known in the early days at St. Mary’s Institute. St. Teresa’s Church was an integral part of the school until its closure in 1974. The former school was then turned into a Retirement and Retreat Center for the Dallas Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. With the transition from school to Retirement Center, a new Church, accessible to the elderly and handicapped nuns, became necessary. Plans for construction of a new Church were laid in August 1976, with completion and dedication taking place in May 1980.
The original frame structure build by the Redemptorists is now a part of the Retreat Center.
On June 12, 2011, St. Teresa became part of the newly formed Central Pacific Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.