Louisiana during the postbellum era instituted “black codes” that prevented black citizens from enjoying the same rights as white citizens. Eventually, “separate but equal” facilities came about to separate white citizens from black citizens, and many Christian communities created parishes exclusive to black Christians to prevent riots from white Christians. In Opelousas, LA came about Holy Ghost Catholic Church in 1921 to house the black Catholic community. Fr. James Hyland and the Holy Ghost Fathers would oversee the parishioners of the new black parish.
Originally, Mass for black Catholics was at a different time in St. Landry Catholic Church, which eventually transferred to a school auditorium. Soon, Holy Ghost School would emerge to support the schooling and religious education of the black congregants in 1921. Fr. Hyland wanted a building to do Mass for the black congregants, but many white citizens in Opelousas did not want there to be a black church near them. Unfortunate for them, Holy Ghost Catholic Church came about and became the largest black church in the U.S. The Pope even sent a delegate to the parish’s Holy Ghost School in 1925 based on his desire to oversee the Christian faith of black Catholics. Even after the end of segregation, the church continues to conduct Mass for the black community in Opelousas.