Saint Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Mission Houma, LA

Contact Details


Saint Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Mission

Mailing Address:
4680 West Main St.
Houma, LA 70360-4916

Physical Address:
2435 South Carrollton
New Orleans, LA 70118

Parking Lot Address:
8024 Nelson St.
New Orleans, LA 70118

Houma, LA. 70360-4916 Get Directions


The Byzantine Catholic Mission of St. Nicholas of Myra began as an educational endeavor. In November 1976, Father Francis Twardzik, SDB celebrated the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans to educate students about the diversity of the Catholic Church. When Archbishop Philip Hannan recognized the interest and need to serve New Orleans’ Byzantine Catholics, he gave Father Twardzik permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy once a month. In 1978, Father Ellis DePriest SM, then Rector of Notre Dame Seminary, received bi-ritual faculties from Rome and permission to serve the Ruthenian Church from Metropolitan Archbishop Stephen J. Kocisko of Pittsburgh. Metropolitan Stephen also gave permission to Father Ellis to continue his monthly service to the Byzantine Catholics of the area. Divine Liturgies continued to be celebrated at Notre Dame Seminary Chapel until September 1981, when the celebration was moved to the Dominican College Chapel on St. Charles Avenue. In 1982, Archbishop Joseph Tawil of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Mass., granted Melkite faculties to Father Ellis to serve the needs of the Melkite faithful of the area. In October 1984, the community once again relocated to the St. John Prep building on Monroe Street. In recognition of the growth of the small but vibrant community, Metropolitan Stephen formally raised the community to the status of a mission, under the patronage of St. Nicholas of Myra. Two priests were added to assist Father Ellis, which allowed for celebration of the Divine Liturgy every Sunday. Father Nicholas (formerly Kirk) Mansell, S.J. and Father Stan Klores of the Archdiocese of New Orleans served St. Nicholas on a rotating schedule. Father John Zolota S.M., Father Steve Shafran, SDB, and Monsignor William Bilinsky (a Ukrainian priest serving the Archdiocese of New Orleans) joined the rotation on occasion. The congregation was blessed with a pastoral visit by Metropolitan Judson Procyk in July of 1995. Throughout his visit, Metropolitan Judson gave encouragement to the community. Father Ellis continued to serve as pastor along with Father James Deshotels, SJ. Two deacons – Gregory Haddad, a long-time parishioner who was ordained a Melkite Deacon in 1996, and Eric Gamble, an ordained Armenian Deacon since 1993 – both assisted in serving the community of St. Nicholas. In March 1999, Metropolitan Judson granted St. Nicholas Mission a loan and permission to purchase the property at 2435 South Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans, and the congregation relocated to a worship site of its own. The Archdiocese of New Orleans generously donated pews for the newly relocated church. As a result of the assistance of many talented parishioners and volunteers, the new location eventually became a sacred meeting place for the Byzantine community of New Orleans and the surrounding area. On April 24, 2001, the community of St. Nicholas mourned the passing of its Spiritual leader, His Eminence, Most Reverend Metropolitan Archbishop Judson Procyk of Blessed Memory. Metropolitan Judson had been a generous supporter of the St. Nicholas community. Because the community was not certain it would receive support from Metropolitan Judson’s successor, there was much concern for the future of the mission. On May 3, 2002, Bishop Basil M. Schott, OFM, Bishop of the Eparchy of Parma, was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. On July 9, 2002, he was installed to the position. The community soon found that its new Spiritual Leader would continue to support St. Nicholas. On August 29, 2005, when most of New Orleans was flooded as hurricane Katrina passed through the city, St. Nicholas’ church building nearly was destroyed. The church building survived the ordeal; however, all of the furniture was lost and the interior was severely damaged. The hurricane forced Father Ellis to evacuate New Orleans, and for six months he resided with Deacon Gregory and Karen Haddad in Houma, La. Due to the temporary relocation of the church’s pastor, Divine Liturgy also was relocated to the home of Deacon Gregory. With the blessing of Metropolitan Basil, members of the mission community who were able to travel gathered in prayer at that location. Liturgy was celebrated by Father Ellis, and, during his visit, Metropolitan Basil celebrated for those who could be present. It wasn’t until February 2006 that Father Ellis was able to move back to his residence, the Marist Center in New Orleans, and re-establish the Divine Liturgy in the city at the Chapel of St. Mary’s Nativity on Jackson Avenue thanks to the generosity of the Redemptorist Fathers of St. Alphonsus Church. Reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church began on November 11, 2005. Difficulties with the original contractor kept the church closed longer than expected. On November 11, 2007 , Deacon Gregory and Karen Haddad took over the job as owner/contractor and began intense work to restore St. Nicholas Church. Many subcontractors were hired to complete the job as expeditiously as possible. During reconstruction, Father Ellis DePriest’s health began to fail, and he was unable to handle the day-to-day administration of St. Nicholas Mission. In order to allow the ailing Father Ellis to continue his pastoral duties, on September 13, 2007, Archbishop Basil appointed Deacon Gregory Haddad to the position of Administrator. St. Nicholas received many generous donations from the people and parishes of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh as well as the Eparchies of Parma, Passaic, and Phoenix (formerly Van Nuys). The community also received generous donations from the Melkite Eparchy of Newton. When reconstruction was substantially completed, St. Nicholas’ Church doors opened, and the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008. Soon after the church re-opened, it was blessed with several visits from His Eminence, Metropolitan Archbishop Basil, who gave us advice, encouragement, and support. Father Ellis was admitted to Our Lady of Wisdom Assisted Living Center, yet he continued to serve the Mission of St. Nicholas until his passing on February 6, 2009. His death left St. Nicholas without a spiritual leader. Deacon Gregory contacted Monsignor William Bilinsky and Father Stan Klores to assist with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on alternating Sundays, and the deacon led the community in Typica services (with Communion) when priests were not available. The liturgy schedule was now changed to 12:30 to accommodate the two assisting priests. By the end of 2009, the St. Nicholas community invited Father Phillip Linden, SSJ, a longtime member of the congregation, to serve as the Celebrant and Spiritual Guide for the community. After his acceptance, Father Linden was granted bi-ritual faculties by Metropolitan Basil. Soon thereafter, services were restored to the original 10:00 time. In May of 2010, Father Phillip joined the priests of the Ruthenian Church from all four eparchies in a celebration to conclude “The Year for Priests.” During the celebration, he was given word of the passing of Metropolitan Archbishop Basil. In January of 2011, Deacon Gregory began the final stage of the restoration of the church @ the reconstruction of the iconostasis (icon screen). New icons are being written contemporaneously with the writing of this church biography. The Congregation of St. Nicholas of Myra Mission in New Orleans looks forward not only to completion of the iconostasis, but also to a new era of spiritual growth for the community. Notice: Due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, St. Nicholas is still in the process of being remodeled. All services, however, have resumed at our church located at: 2435 South Carrollton Avenue New Orleans, LA