Completed 1969 - Our Fourth Church
Chapter 4, The Fourth Period
The Catholic Church in Maurice, 1967 to the Present
On June 6, 1967, Reverend Joseph Robert Dubuc, another priest from Quebec, Canada, was assigned to Maurice. He was born in 1904, ordained in 1939, and entered the diocese in 1940. Father Dubuc was known as a church builder. On August 23, 1968, the Board of Directors gave Father Dubuc the same power to borrow money to build a new church. On October 23, 1968, official approval was received from the Apostolic Delegate in Rome to borrow $75,000.00.
After advertising for bids for the new church, the congregation was disappointed when all bids were too high and out of the money approved. The trustees, Mr. Loubert Trahan and Mr. Lydea Simon along with Fr. Dubuc, called another meeting of the church leaders, farmers, business men and discussed the situation. It was agreed to re-advertise for bids but with a different set of options. All expensive decorations and windows were to be taken out, to be added at a later date when the parish could afford them. The thinking was that the first and foremost priority was a solid church building that would serve for many years. Also the first bid was for union labor only, preventing any of the parishioners of donating time and labor towards the project. None of the local businesses could bid. The second bid came in at $142,000 as opposed to $212,000 for the first. This bid was awarded to Abbeville Lumber Co. The stained glass windows were installed in 2000 and 2001.
The church was completed and the first Mass was offered in the third St. Alphonsus Church on July 26, 1969. The first anticipated Mass was offered by Father Dubuc in May, 1969. The church, seating 600 people, was built at a cost of $146,000.00. Bishop Maurice Schexnayder blessed the new church on March 21, 1971, at 10:00 a.m. Mass.
The first mausoleum was constructed in 1971.
Most Reverend Gerard L. Frey, D.D. was appointed Third Bishop of Lafayette on November 7, 1972. He was installed on January 7, 1973; he retired in 1989 at the mandatory age of 75 and lives in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Father Dubuc retired on April30, 1974. Father Dubuc was from a family of 20 children , four were priests and three were nuns. Upon his retirement, he returned to his family in Canada, died there in 1991, and is buried in the Nicolete Clergy Cemetery.
The parish profile of 1974 listed the Catholic population at 1865 with attendance at Sunday Mass as 900. Forty-five baptisms, 10 marriages, and 14 burials were recorded. There were 325 CCD students and a $24,000.00 debt. The taxable income was $28,286.00. The profile also included a trust fund for the cemetery and a small investment fund.
Monsignor Robert C. Landry, a native of Abbeville, became pastor on May 1, 1974. Father Landry, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Landry, was ordained May 28, 1959. He was diocesan director of Press and Information, a member of the Priests’ Senate, Vice Chancellor—Secretary to Bishop Schexnayder, Chaplain of Our Lady of Wisdom, USL, and Officialis of the Diocesan Tribunal. He served St. Alphonsus for fourteen years. Father Landry retorted, when asked how long he had been here, “Long enough to cry at funerals.” Father Landry died later in Mexico and is buried new his parents in Abbeville, La.
High Mass stipends were discontinued in 1974. The first parish bulletin was issued on May 19, 1974. On June 18, 1974, the first Parish Council met in the dining room of the old rectory.
Members of that council were the two trustees, Lydea Simon and Loubert Trahan, and council members Fred Broussard, Larry Broussard, Wallace Broussard, Will Broussard, Paul Landry, Robert (Bob) Trahan, Delores Trahan and Alberta V. Winch. Fred Broussard was to be appointed trustee a year later upon Mr. Simon's moving to Lafayette, La.
Deposits for 1974-75 totaled $32,645.41, with disbursements of $28,107.34.
Lay readers (lectors) were appointed February 1, 1975. Lay ministers of communion were approved November 14, 1975. Beginning in 1975, banners depicting liturgical seasons were made by the CCD classes. From 1975 on, during Lent, Masses at St. Joseph and St. Alphonsus were coordinated to have one in the morning and one in the evening.
The 41st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia August 1 - 8, 1976. Several parishioners attended.
The Ladies Altar Society Bingo in 1976 contributed $1,042.00 to the CCD program. From then on, a social bingo has been held each year. Today the Society numbers over 100.
Patrick Dwayne Primeaux, SM., our fourth native priest, son of Mrs. Jeanne Picard Primeaux and the late Isaac Primeaux, former residents of Maurice, was born in Abbeville on February 1, 1947. He was ordained on May 27,1977, at Our Lady of Fatima in Lafayette, Louisiana, and said his first Mass there on May 28, 1977. He is currently Professor at St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York.
St. Joseph Parish in Milton was established on July 1, 1977. It had been a mission of Youngsville. A new church was built in 1993 to serve the parish needs.
A new rectory, the third in this century, was completed on October 15, 1978, at a cost of approximately $77,101.00. The old rectory was sold to Delhomme Funeral Home, was completed rebuilt, and still serves the Maurice community as a Funeral Parlor on property adjacent to the church property.
Another one of our “larger family” is Father Danny Picard, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Picard of Abbeville and the grandson of Dr. and Mrs. Aristide Picard, both former parishioners of St. Alphonsus. He was ordained a Deacon on September 1, 1978, and a priest on June 1, 1979. He has served our diocese in the Office of the Deaf Apostolate for over seven years and in various parishes and is still in our diocese.
An oil lease for the church property was obtained in 1979 for a three-year period for a sum of $100.00 an acre per year.
The Diocese assessment for ten months in 1980 was $7372.00.
The Knights of Columbus Seat of Wisdom Council No. 8770 was organized August 28, 1984, under the leadership of Stanley S. Hebert, Sr., who died at a very young age in 1991. He was the first Grand Knight of 36 charter members. After his death, in 1992 Council No. 8770 changed its name to Knights of Columbus Stanley S. Hebert, Sr. Council No. 8770, in his memory as one who had worked so hard for the group, which now has 72 members.
The first Knights of Columbus was organized before 1900 in New Orleans Diocese during the episcopacy of Archbishop Louis Chapelle, Sixth Bishop of New’ Orleans Diocese. The first native Louisianian to be elected to the episcopacy, Bishop J. B. Jeanmard, was State Chaplain for the Louisiana Knights of Columbus from 1919-1928. Bishop Maurice Schexnayder, second Bishop of Lafayette, also served the Knights as State Chaplain from 1933-1944. In his book, One Mile an Hour, Father W. J Teurlings praised the strong faith and example of this organization, which continues today.
From February to September, 1985, Father Landry was on sick leave. The Parish Council became an active, working body, with the help of several priests.
Called by Bishop Gerard Frey, the Diocesan Synod was held from 1985 — 1988, with St. Alphonsus Parish taking an active part in all activities. A parish assembly was held in 1987. Consultation between clergy and laity produced guidelines for the coming century.
In 1986, St. Alphonsus Congregation began a special yearly anniversary Mass honoring couples celebrating 25, 40, 50 or 60 years of marriage.
April 19, 1986, Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D.D., was appointed Co-Adjutor Bishop of Lafayette and succeeded Bishop Frey when he retired. Bishop Flynn became the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette.
Succeeding Bishop Flynn was Bishop Edward O. Donnell from St. Louis, Mo. who served from 1984 to 2002 when he retired because of health reasons. Bishop O'Donnell has moved back to St. Louis to live with family members. Just recently a new bishop has been appointed to serve the Diocese of Lafayette, La.
Appointed to serve as Bishop is Michael Jarrell from Opelousas, La. Bishop Jarrell was ordained in 1967 and served as bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodeaux prior to his appointment in Lafayette. Bishop Jarrell had served in the Lafayette Diocese for 26 years prior to his appointment as bishop of Houma-Thibodeaux Diocese.
Our next pastor, Rev. Martin Leonards, was appointed in August, 1988. Reverend Martin Leonards is a native of Rayne and the son of Mrs. Gerhard J. Leonards and the late Mr. Leonards, rice farmers of Acadia Parish. Father Leonards attended Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He was ordained in St. John’s Cathedral on December 17, 1966. His first assignment was as assistant at Sacred Heart, Broussard, from 1967 to 1971; then at St. Anthony’s, Eunice from 1972 to 1975. He was pastor at St. John’s in Mermentau from 1975 to 1977, and at St. Peter’s in Gueydan from 1977 to 1988. He is now serving his second term on the Diocesan School Board. In 1991 Father Leonards celebrated his twenty—fifth anniversary as a priest. On July 1, 2002, Father Leonards was transferred to Duson, La. as Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church.
At the same time, July 1, 2002, that Father Leonards was transferred to Duson, Father O. Joseph Breaux, then pastor of St. Theresa's, Duson, La. was transferred and assumed duties as pastor of St. Alphonsus here in Maurice, La. Father Breaux is a native of Opelousas, La. and was ordained in 1968 and has served in several parishes prior to coming to St. Alphonsus.