|OLPS HISTORY 1892-2000
At the entrance to Chackbay in the wide, sweeping of LA 20 from Thibodaux is the brick edifice, the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The church parish includes not only Chackbay proper, but also the community of LA 307 up to Bayou Ron Pon Pon (formerly a part of the German-Spanish settlement of Malagay). The large religious structure occupies a focal point in community life because Chackbay proper is almost 100% Catholic.
The birth of the parish of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Chackbay, is given the "Catholic Church in Louisiana" by Roger Baudier. Father Charles Menard was installed as pastor of Thibodaux on May 23, 1845. The church of Thibodaux was a center for a huge missionary area and the priest from this church ministered to these surrounding areas. His endless work led to the founding of at least nine parishes, one of which was Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Father Menard built a chapel in Chackbay in 1873 on eight acres of land bought from Jean Baptiste Benoit on February 11, 1871. Prior to this chapel, services were conducted in private homes.
The parish of Our Lady of Prompt Succor was established in April of 1892, by Archbishop Janssens, with Reverend Alexander Jullie as its first pastor from June 1892-1895. Reverend Charles Tessier, who improved and enlarged the church and rectory, was the pastor from March 1895 until September 1903. The name of Reverend A. Sere appeared on the parish records on September 1903 to be succeeded by Reverend Joseph S. Schmitt, who served as pastor from 1903-1912. In behalf of his parishioners, he used his influence to obtain better roads. While at work, he contracted a fatal illness, which led to his death in January 1912 at the age of 41.
Succeeding Fr. Schmitt were Reverend A.M. Chapon, 1912-1912; Reverend E. Hubert, 1913-1918; Reverend M. Ousset, 1918-1921. This new parish acquired its share of mission activities including Malagay, Bayou Boeuf, Bayou Pillon, and the Choctaw community.
Reverend Balechou built a new chapel in Bayou Boeuf in 1921 to replace the first chapel (1919) which was destroyed by a storm; Fr. Gerard Rief built a new church in Bayou Boeuf at a cost of $3,600.00 in 1927 to replace the one destroyed by fire.
These settlements were first accessible only by waterways, later by horse and buggy through private properties. Religious services were held irregularly, depending upon weather conditions and road passage. In 1924, weekly services became regular.
In April 1936, a contract was signed by Fr. Rief and Sidney J. Toups of Thibodaux to construct the first chapel of Chocktaw for $1285.00, dedicated to St. James, and blessed by Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel on October 27, 1936. On October 14, 1954, a larger lot was purchased for $800.00 and the chapel was moved to the new site at a cost of $700.00. Under the pastorship of Reverend Roland Boudreaux, a contract was signed with Joseph & Guy Clement, builders from Chackbay, for $5,938.92, for complete renovation and enlargement of the St. James Chapel.
The growth of the parish in Chackbay-Choupic area and the deterioration of our first chapel built in 1873 deemed it necessary to begin construction of a new church. Father Louis Balechou first started the movement of a new church for Chackbay and succeeded in accumulating $2,000.00. The building of the church was delayed as funds accumulated and were used from 1924 to 1938 for urgent repairs on the chapel and rectory during the pastorate of Fr. Rief. Father Rief, a native of Holland, served for 14 years in Chackbay but was forced to retire due to illness in 1962 and died June 30, 1969.
In 1938 Reverend Sebastian Arjonilla, of Belize, British Honduras, became the pastor in Chackbay, where he remained until 1952. In 1948, at a cost of $4,717.00, he built a parish hall which was used for most of our social activities. Fr. Arjonilla possessed an indomitable spirit of enterprise and ambition for progress. Thus, a campaign for funds and fair operations began. Results from the fairs were not adequate, so each family was asked to contribute $125.00.
On May 17, 1949, sufficient funds were available to begin construction of a new church. Soignet Bros. Contractors of Thibodaux, was awarded the bid for $62,215.00; R. Spencer Soule of New Orleans was the architect. On December 21, 1950, Archbishop Rummel gave approval to Fr. Arjonilla to negotiate a loan of $25,000 to complete our new church.
On June 10, 1951, Auxiliary Bishop Abel Caillouet of New Orleans presided over the blessing and dedication of the new church with a solemn high mass. Reverend Arjonilla was the celebrant, deacon and subdeacon were Reverend John Adams and Reverend Cecil Benny Rodrigue (native of Chackbay) and Reverend James E. Rodrigue, pastor of Vacherie, Master of Ceremonies.
The floor of the sanctuary is mosaic tile imported from Mexico. The mural of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, which dominates the front of the church, was originally painted by an Italian artist named Albert Tango. The cross hanging over the sanctuary is a replica of the crucifix at Limpyas, Spain.
Three bells, blessed on April 22, 1951, were placed in the steeple. The first one, named Sebastian John, more than a hundred years old and weighing more than 1,000 lbs., was donated by Southdown Sugars, Co.; the second one, weighing 750 lbs. and named Antoinette, was donated by the families of the boys of this parish who died in World War II; the third bell, Louisa Marie, 300 lbs. is the bell from our former church. Fr. Arjonilla was instrumental in obtaining better roads, electric service (1939) and telephone service (1940) in our area and was negotiating for gas and water when he was transferred to Kenner. He was often called the "builder", who worked for the spiritual as well as for the material good of his people. He died on April 22, 1968 and is interred in St. Mary`s cemetery in Raceland. During the pastorate of Fr. Arjonilla, a parishioner, Marie Therese Rodrigue, daughter of Elma Marse and Denis Rodrigue, entered the order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Sister Mary Denis Rodrigue, the ninth of twelve children, professed her vows on August 2, 1946.
She has taught in Lafayette, New Iberia, Rayne, Marrero, New Orleans and Thibodaux, and was the first principal of St. Joseph Elementary in Thibodaux; later taught religion at F.D. White High School in Thibodaux. With permission from her religious community she took care of her elderly mother until her mother`s death November 21, 1997 at the age of 102. Her mother was Chackbay`s oldest resident at the time of her death. Presently she is employed by St. Edmund Church in Lafayette, serves as Minister to patients at the hospitals, nursing homes and homebound in that area.
Fr. Roland Boudreaux of Napoleonville, came to Chackbay on June 26, 1952. He inherited a new church in Chackbay with a $15,000 debt on it and deteriorating rectory built in 1892 by Fr. Jullie. The church debt was paid off in 1955, and a new rectory that same year at a cost of $40,000. The Plantation-Colonial style structure, was built by Joseph O. Clement and Guy Clement, with Fernand Picou as architect. The debt on the rectory was paid off in the spring of 1958.
In 1958, through the weekly envelope system, funds were raised to pay for all the air-conditioning of the church at a cost of $11,995 and was installed by Tauzin Refrigeration Service of Chackbay. This was the first air- conditioned Catholic Church in Lafourche Parish.
During his pastorship, the Ladies Altar Society, the Holy Name, the Junior Holy Name, and the Children of Mary were very active societies. He also started the classes of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
Father Boudreaux had three assistants during his pastorate: Reverend Svato Schutzner, Reverend John B. Becnel and Reverend John Thormann.
On August 10, 1962, a new church "St. Lawrence the Martyr" was blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Cody. In September 1962, the two missions (St. Lawrence the Martyr and St. James) were separated from the mother church and united into one parish under the pastorship of the Reverend Kermit Trahan in Kraemer.
In recognition of his many years of meritorious service to the church the Holy Father conferred on him the title of Reverend Monsignor of January 6, 1983. This title is a title of honor but not of order nor jurisdiction.
Msgr. Boudreaux lived on his farm in Chackbay. His love of history led him to write a book in the early 90`s concerning Lafourche Parish`s Ward 6-the political, economic and educational aspects of that area over the last century.
In 1979, he was named Archivist of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux; leading to the establishment of the Historical Research Center on the Nicholls State University campus in Thibodaux-, where he served until his death on November 20, 1998. He is interred in Napoleonville, Louisiana, his native community. He had celebrated his 50th year of priesthood on June 10, 1992.
Reverend Clemens Schneider, a native of Germany, replaced Father Boudreaux on September 15, 1963. r Under his leadership, the classes of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine were well organized. Elementary classes were held at Chackbay School and the high school classes in the parish hall.
From 1963-65, he made major repairs and improvements to the interior of the church, costing more than $20,000. The stained glass windows, designed and ordered for the church by Fr. Boudreaux, were installed. Two cry rooms together with two new confessionals were built in the vestibule of the church. In the sanctuary, the location of the altar was changed. In 1969, a garden crypt memorial was built where the first chapel first stood. His greatest project was the recreational area made possible through the Holy Name. He leased a piece of church property for the establishment of the Chackbay-Choupic Volunteer Fire Co. The firemen built Chackbay`s first Fire Station on this land. He sold part of the church property across the street to Citizens Bank (now Hibernia) so the first bank in Chackbay could be built.
In the seven years as pastor, he accumulated a savings fund of $85,000 for the church parish. On May 10, 1970, a farewell party was held for him. The highlight of this event was the changing of the ball park title to Schneider Park in his honor. The sign was constructed by Ronald Rodrigue, a Holy Name member.
Father Schneider died on June 9, 1982 and is interred at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Mausoleum.
Fr. Francis S. Lamendola of Raceland succeeded Fr. Schneider on May 17, 1970. Because of failing health, he was replaced by Fr. Victor Toth. Fr. Toth, a native of Hungary, was appointed pastor of OLPS on August 3, 1970. During 1970-1971, the parish had a bad recession and Fr. Toth worked zealously to reduce expenses to meet his financial obligations.
Among his accomplishments was the establishment of a church parish library which was replenished annual with about $300 worth of books. A new organ was bought for $5,000; a new Parish Hall was built at a cost of approximately $330,000 and the entire debt was paid off in six years. Repairs were made in the church including a new roof (cost $25,000); new cypress ceiling ($24,000); new paint job, protective plastic covers on the stain glass windows; new light fixtures ($18,000) and renovations in the sanctuary, including carpeting over the mosaic tile. A marble altar, new lecture stand and chairs were ordered. During his pastorate three more mausoleums were added in the cemetery.
The Knights of Columbus was organized and Sister Elizabeth Royal and Sister Iona Taylor, Order of the Precious Blood, were hired by Fr. Toth as Directors of the Religious Education Program for the church parish.
Father Toth retired in 1986 after 16 years of service to our church community and now resides in Picayune, Mississippi.
Father Roland Timbre, a native of Lucban, Quezon, Philippines, became the new pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in July 1986, and continues as pastor at the present time.
During his pastorate he has enthusiastically begun forming new church ministries and initiating church and rectory improvements.
In 1986, the new altar, lectern, tabernacle stand, and sanctuary seats ordered by Father Toth were placed in the remodeled sanctuary. The Altar Boy of the Year Award and KC Awards were introduced in 1987; a Pastoral Council was created. Various liturgical ministries were created; wax candles were replaced by the installation of three electronic votive light stands at a cost of $10,872; and the FLC (Future Leaders of Chackbay) youth group was created.
Bells are again ringing in the church tower, after some 20 years of silence, when Fr. Timbre had the electronic Schulmerich Carillons Bells installed (a donation by Stella Roman Foundation Inc. of New Orleans, Louisiana).
In 1988, RCIA was initiated in the parish and Summer Bible School for children was introduced. The church pews were stripped of paint to retain the natural wood finish at a cost of $33,410.
CCD classes were held in the Parish Hall in 1989 (formerly held at Chackbay Elementary); Eucharistic Ministers began making home visits and the Holy Hour was introduced once a week with exposition and benediction. The cemetery grounds were improved at a cost of $15,180.
In 1990, Reverend Vicente N. DeLa Cruz, adopted seminarian of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, was ordained Deacon and assigned to our parish. After his ordination on December 8, 1990, he was assigned associate pastor and served as Director of Religious Education and later assigned to St. Genevieve Parish in Thibodaux.
A new additional mausoleum (No. 5) was built in 1991 to accommodate future demands for crypts. The church services were improved with the creation of several choirs and the purchase of a new Baldwin Church Organ from Hofman Music and Thibodaux for $18,637.50. Hofman Music also donated a piano to the church.
The first activity of the Centennial Year was the dedication of a historical market at Bayou Heron Cemetery, a joint project of OLPS and Lafourche Heritage Society. This was the first cemetery in Chackbay, established in 1850. The statue of OLPS, donated by Joseph Martinez about 1900, has been refurbished with 23 karat gold leaf by Mary Ann Rodrigue Zeringue This was one of the major accomplishments of the Centennial Year.
The celebration of the mass, by Bishop Warren Boudreaux, along with the dedication of a permanent plaque, on June 27, 1992, marked the highlights of the Centennial Year celebrations of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
Father Robert Cruz of the Philippines, Our Lady of Prompt Succor`s second adopted seminarian, wasordained June 8, 1996 and assigned to St. Bernadette in Houma. He is presently associate pastor at St. Joseph Co- Cathedral in Thibodaux. Yearly church community activities include food drives, St. Joseph Altar, Bible School, blood drives, Christmas Concert by the Chackbay Church Choir and the Youth Choir (A Joyful Noise) and a living Nativity at Christmas.
The Knights of Columbus were instrumental in establishing and dedicating a memorial to the unborn in the front of the Parish Hall. The KC`s also have an annual Tootsie Roll drive for Lafourche ARC, and other fund raisers to assist seminarians, CCD and bible school students; yearly scholarships and assistance to families in need in the community of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Bereavement Group continues to offer moral support for those who experienced a loss in their lives.` In the fall of 1998, many Renew 2000 groups were formed; meeting and becoming very active with services to others in the community. Visitation and Census by our Evangelization Minister also began in 1998.
A new choir loft was constructed near the altar in church in 1998 through a donation from Knights of Columbus..
A variety of religious pamphlets, prayer books, and booklets are in the rear of the church. Videos can be checked out through the church library in the rectory.
The FLC (Future Leaders of Chackbay) continue to hold fund-raising dances. These funds are used to purchase medicine for those in need in the community. An additional Teen Ministry has been organized in 1999, as well as a Prayer Line. Fr. Timbre continues to conduct classes in Continuing Adult Religious Education.
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