Carved out of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Ascension of Our Lord was
officially established on July 2, 1979 by Archbishop Hannan with the
appointment of Rev. Benjamin Piovan as its founding Pastor. A
special tie was immediately established with St. Charles High School
as we used the music room of the school as our regular place for
The following year, in August of 1980, our Ascension of Our Lord School opened its doors to the first class of Kindergartners. The primitive school facility was an office trailer located across the street from LaPlace Elementary, under the leadership of Mrs. L. Brennan as the founding Principal. The following year the school took a bigger step by adding classes for 1st and 2nd graders on the same location. We used two additional portable classrooms, which we rented. Meanwhile, the construction of our first school building was under way, in the present location, a 10 acre plot of land.
In May of 1982, on the Vigil of the Feast of the Ascension, the Parishioners gathered with cars and trucks at St. Charles High School to transport our poor and scanty belongings to the new location. That evening we had our first Mass in Don Bosco Hall. We would continue to use Don Bosco hall for Mass on Sunday and for everything else (cafeteria, bingo, dinners, dances etc.) for the next six years.
In August of 1983, our school took another giant step by adding classes up to the 6th grade. The remaining two empty classrooms (present day 2nd grade) were used for a fast growing pre-K: the Children of Jesus Center.
With the explosion of housing development all around us, we soon found ourselves bulging at the seams with children and never enough space to house them. In the Summer of 1984, in a house donated by Shell Company in Norco, we made room for our preschoolers in the building that would later become the A.O.L. Bookstore. The following year (1985), we started our project on the 2nd school building, which our 7th and 8th graders occupied in the spring of 1986. Half of that building was left as a shell for future classrooms.
We made good use of the shelled portion of the 2nd building as a "gym" on rainy days - roller skating - P.E. classes etc.. On the last stretch, half of it was used as a huge storage for on going weekly garage sales.
As the School grew, so did the Parish, and the need for a "church", even if a temporary one, became more and more evident. As a result, in the summer of 1987, permission was given for the fund drive and the building of our first church on a "pay as you go and build with the funds you can raise" basis. No special loan from the Archdiocese would be forthcoming.
The Parishioners rose to the occasion. Not only did we raise the money for the church ($250,000), but we still continued to reduce our debt and pay the interest to the tune of $120,000 a year. It took us two years, and on March 19, 1989, the Feast of St. Joseph, Vigil of Palm Sunday, we gathered in Don Bosco Hall for the last time. We blessed the palms and with great joy and to everyone's satisfaction we marched into the new church. In addition, in 1989, we celebrated our 10th anniversary of the Parish and our Pastor, Fr. Benny's 25th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination.
In August of 1989, we had a switch in the leadership of the school and Sr. Barbara Campbell, F.M.A., became our 2nd principal (from 89-92). Under Sr. Barbara's leadership, our school rose to greatness. Unfortunately, she was allowed to stay only three years. At the end of her 3rd year, at her farewell service, she passed on the baton of the school to Mrs. Carole Elliot. Meanwhile, with continued growth of the school, a new building for our pre-schoolers became necessary. The present Pre-K school building was ready to go for the school year (1993). Then on January 1, 1995, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel was opened and housed in the original Pre-K building but it was too small from the beginning. Once again a group of energetic and dedicated people took the initiative and built the present day Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Then the pavillion between the church and school building, the addition of the computer and science labs, and the paving of the road and parking lots completed the school project in the years 1994-1996.
In 1994, the land across the street from the school became available and the Parish bought it as a sight for our future and permanent church. On May 27, 2001, the Feast of the Ascension, the first Mass was celebrated in our new Church dedicated by Bishop Carmon. In August of 2005, our third principal, Ms. Carole Elliot accepted a job with the Archdiocese of New Orleans as an Associate Superintendent. After her departure Mrs. Amy DiMaggio took her place from 2005-2011. Our current Principal is Mrs. Toni Ruiz.
Along with the physical growth of the Parish, it is almost mind boggling to venture into the spiritual growth of the Parishioners as evident in the many areas of ministry and service. Since 1997, teenage and adult parishioners have been making regular service trips to the missions of San Miguel in Saltillo, Mexico. These trips have taken place over the Christmas, Carnival, Easter, Summer and Thanksgiving breaks. Since 1997 helping the poor children of this central Mexican city has become a major parish ministry, with parishioners donating food, clothing, shoes, toiletries and toys to the cause. During the Easter 2004 trip, Fr. Benny broke ground for a new church and school for the people of Saltillo. For the children of the community, year long recreation programs are provided: soccer, baseball, t-ball and cabbageball, along with Kidcamp and Vacation Bible School. Our teenagers accompany the Eucharistic Ministers on there weekly visits to the sick and homebound, work on various service projects, go on working mission trips to Mexico, or work camp with the poor in Laredo, Texas. Various other ministries include P.T.O., Altar Society, Knights of Columbus, Choirs, Readers, Eucharistic ministers, Hearty Meals, Ministry of the Sick, Welcome Committee, C.Y.O, Jr. C.Y.O, Altar boys, family life, social life, St. Joseph Altar, pot luck suppers, retreats, family Holy Hour, ministry to the bereaved, and the list goes on. It is impossible to describe it all. What is beautiful about this Parish is that people really work together without being concerned for claiming credit or calling attention to oneself. May this spirit continue well into the new millennium.
What this Parish has become is all to due to the guidance, faith, dedication and hard work of our Founding Pastor, Rev. Benjamin Piovan. Sadly, on November 17th, 2006, we bid farewell to Father Benny as he retired to pursue his dream of missionary work in Saltillo, Mexico. Rev. Walter J. Austin filled his position as Pastor. We welcome Father Walter into our AOL family and look forward to many wonderful years.
Sadly Fr. Benny passed away on August 4th, 2014.