Camp Kateri/Kateri Kids
In 1882, the Very Reverend Jean Baptiste Bogaerts of New Orleans was entrusted with the investment of some funds by the Sisters of the Christian Schools in Belgium, where the strong onrush of anti-Catholicism had suppressed all religious schools. He purchased a seventeen hundred acre tract located in Tangipahoa and Livingston Parishes in Louisiana in the name of the Sisters.
Shortly after this, the Benedictine Fathers of St. Meinrad's were invited by Archbishop Janssens to found a Benedictine Priory in Louisiana and to conduct in conjunction therewith a home for boys. On one of his visits to the South, Abbot Fintan. O.S.B., went to view the property administered by Father Bogaerts, which had on it only the ruins of the plantation home of a Mr. J. L. Gubernator. Business men in Ponchatoula advised the monks against the purchase of this "unprofitable land," but the Benedictines saw it as an ideal spot for a seminary. In 1890 the Benedictines established the seminary and gave it the biblical name "Gessen." For several years Gessen served as the preparatory seminary for the diocese. Because of the lack of funds, (the support of the diocese had to be withdrawn) and the hardships of farming the land, the monks sought another site, the present St. Benedict's near Covington, Louisiana.
In the meantime, civil strife in Spain made the Spanish Dominican Fathers decide to place their House of Philosophy for students preparing for missions in the Far East, somewhere in America so the studies of the young philosophers would not be interrupted by a period of compulsory military training in Spain. Reverend Thomas Lorente, O.P., of the Holy Rosary Province, negotiated with the Benedictines to purchase Gessen. In 1911 the House was opened and was given the name suggested by Mother Mary de Ricci Hutchinson, O.P., "Rosaryville." The Dominicans renovated the building constructed by the Benedictines and gave themselves to study and contemplation, leaving the imprint of the Dominican spirit on the the buildings and land.
When the war in Spain claimed the lives of many friars, priests, teachers, and young students, the Spanish Dominicans found it necessary to recall their theologians and novices to Spain and to send priests to fill the immediate need in the mission field. Knowing that the Dominican Sisters were considering moving their novitiate out of New Orleans, the Spanish Fathers gave them the first option on Rosaryville.
Through the ingenious ability and business acumen of Sister Mary Catherine Delaney, O.P., the Superior General of the Dominican Sisters, the Sisters purchased the property from the Spanish Fathers for $6,000, and in 1939, Rosaryville became the novitiate and retirement home of the Dominican Sisters Congregation of St. Mary.
Rosaryville remains in the care of the Dominican Sisters today. Both the physical appearance and the mission of Rosaryville have changed since the Sisters acquired the property in 1939. New buildings, Rosary Hall and St. John Hall, replaced the original buildings to serve the Sisters as a convent, chapel, chaplain's quarters, and dining room. Because of declining vocations the novitiate was closed, and retired sisters now reside in the Motherhouse in New Orleans. Rosaryville Spirit Life Center was established and the two buildings were renovated for use as a center for retreats, study, workshops, and conferences. Camp Kateri was opened for camping groups and uses the gym, dormitories, stables, and grounds.