Our next pastor
was Reverend Augustus Michel Rochard, sent in August of 1899 by Archbishop
Placide Chapelle, Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of New Orleans from 1897 to
1905, who was a noted orator and linguist. Father Rochard was Albert A.
Villien’s parrain (godfather). He was born August 18, 1867, in
Maine-et-Loire, France. He was ordained in Maryland on June 21,1892.
Father Rochard came to the diocese in 1899.
In the 1900
and 1902 annual reports, Father Rochard listed his personal property as two
silver gilded chalices, one silver gilded ciborium, one black velvet
chasuble and all the furniture of the house. At this time, the church
population was 3,000 with 1,100 communicants. In 1902,
reminded the diocesan officials that his address was changed from
Mauriceville to Maurice. He was saying Mass in Leroy on the first and third
Sundays of each month.
15, 1902, Mr. Benjamin Broussard loaned $500.00 at no interest for the
extension of the church building and sacristy, to be paid $250.00 for the
next two years.
In 1903, Mass was
being said every Sunday at 8:30 a. m. in Leroy. The church was canonically
erected January 22,1904. Sacred heart of Jesus, St. Joseph and Blessed
Virgin Mary statues at a cost of $442.00 were placed in the church.
A letter written in Latin and dated January 1904 states that
Father Rochard petitioned the Archbishop for approval for the erection of
the Stations of the Cross in St Alphonsus.
In March 1905, Father Rochard again wrote a
letter to Archbishop Chapelle for approval for the erection of the Stations
of the Cross at “Leroy.”
January 1, 1906, the enlargement of
the church building cost $4,309.87. The money was borrowed at 8% interest
from Billeaud Brothers of Broussard.
First mention of the Ladie's Altar Society was in 1906 with 26 members. The
Children of Mary had 15 members. The Society of Our Lady of Prompt Succor
(Bonne Morte) had 255 members.
The church population in 1906 was 3,000 with 2,700 receiving communion.
In 1907 there was a $2,000.00 debt on the
new church which was still incomplete. Half was paid at this time, with the
balance to be paid in three years with no mortgage. Father also said Mass on
all feast days in Leroy.
On November 16, 17, and 18, 1907, Archbishop
James Hubert Blenk, Seventh Archbishop of the New Orleans Diocese
(1906—1917), on his Canonical Visit to St. Alphonsus, found everything in
entirely satisfactory condition. The church building had been raised several
feet and enlarged to accommodate the pious worshippers. The presbytery had
been very much enlarged. The Archbishop was gratified by the existence and
vigorous life of the Association of St. Joseph, which fostered real Catholic
life among the black population. St. Joseph Parish here in Maurice had not
yet been established, and the blacks worshipped at St. Alphonsus, the only
church in Maurice at that time. Records show that children were confirmed
both at the mother church and at the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in
The Archbishop suggested the following needs or improvements:
baptismal font must be erected,
should cover the value of the church;
parochial schools for both the white and “colored’ would be a model for
efficiency and completeness
In 1908 St.
Joseph’s Society was formed with 112 members. Donations to the church
totaled $9.00, and pew rent totaled $2,761.95.
4,1908, as shown in the records, Father Rochard signed an inventory of the
church property with Reverend W. J. Heffernan, Administrator. Father Rochard
served until August 20. 1908, died in Youngsville in February 1933, and was
buried in Breaux Bridge.
Father W. J.
Heffernan served from August 30, 1908 to September 23, 1908. Father Donald
in his book, History of St. Anthony Parish Eunice, LA 1902—1983,
said one priest did not speak French, so he decided it was best to return to
the North and leave the spiritual care of the people to the French priests!
Perhaps this was Father Heffernan as we have no other information about him.
To the young people of our parish, many of
whom do not speak French, the fact that we have had French priests at St.
Alphonsus is not that significant. But one must remember that in the early
days of our parish, many of the parishioners spoke no English; and,
therefore, it was important that any priest assigned to St. Alphonsus speak
and read the French language, particularly since many of the parishioners
On September 26, 1908, Reverend Joseph
Antoine Quenouillere came and stayed for a short term until December 23, 1908. He died in
Raceland on September 14, 1922, and was buried there.
Our sixth pastor, Reverend Celestin Marius
Chamhon, was born April 15, 1879, at L’Puy in Auvergne Province, South
Central France. He was the son of Louis Chambon and Louise Grange, wealthy
and prosperous silk merchants. He studied in Moulterison, Loire,
France, where he received a BA. degree; then studied at the seminary
in Lyon, France, for a PhD. In 1903 Father Charnbon came to the
seminary of St. Louis in New Orleans. Father Donald Hebert in his
book, History of St. Anthony Parish, tells this story.
Chambon was wearing a mustache, popular in France at the time, but was
ordered to remove it as soon as he entered the seminary. Ordained on June
10, 1904, he was first assigned as an assistant at St. Louis Cathedral. His
second assignment on December 26, 1908, was as pastor of St. Alphonsus.
On Tuesday, September 21, 1909, Father
Chambon wrote, in French, a letter to Archbishop J. H. Blenk, a Marist,
telling him he had bad news! “Last night a hurricane badly damaged my church
and the other buildings of the Corporation,” he says, and continues, “Next
Sunday I can say Mass in the Hall that I just had constructed for the next
bazaar. I was hoping to clear up one part of the debt that I found when I
arrived last December. What little harvest has been ruined, too. We ask the
Lord to help us pay off the interest instead of the whole debt. (That would
have been asking for too much). I am discouraged this morning, but I will
continue my work and again place my confidence in God, and do all I can to
recover from this disaster.”
On Monday, September 27, 1909, Father
Chambon again wrote to Archbishop Blenk, telling him that the church was
inspected by an architect and two carpenters, who said they could repair the
church and make it usable again, but this must be done as soon as possible
before another hurricane comes. Father Chambon said he had no money because
he had just completed a church hall. The trustees said it was useless to tax
the people because the harvest was so poor. The only possible solution he
saw was to borrow money to pay for the repairs and add this to the existing
debt. He asked the Archbishop to borrow $600.00 and asked permission to
begin the repairs immediately. He always closed his letters with “your very
humble and devoted servant.”
September 28, 1909, Father Chambon, received
a letter (typewritten in English) from Archbishop Blenk telling him to call
a meeting of the Corporation without delay and discuss the making of a loan
of $600.00 to repair the church. He advised Father to draw up a resolution
to that effect and forward it to him in New Orleans. Archbishop Blenk said
he was glad to hear Father is not “daunted” by the many difficulties that
confront him, and that God will bless his efforts with success.
Having received this consoling letter from
the Archbishop, Father Chambon, that same day, wrote the Archbishop thanking
him ‘from the bottom of my heart” for having faith in him, and responding to
the questions the Archbishop had posed in his letter: 1) the chapel at Leroy
had not been damaged, and 2) the amount of damages to St. Alphonsus Church
was hard to estimate because the bill for the materials had not yet been
received. He estimated the repairs to be less than $1,000 and could he
completed by the following January. He stated that, completely repaired, the
church would not he more elegant but more solid than before the repairs,
stating the biggest problem was not the damage to the church, but the damage
to the crops.
He had dreamed of paying the debt within a short time and then building a
school, but now this project had been delayed, not months, but two or three
years. Confident that the situation was far from being desperate, and with
the blessing of God, Father Chambon said he could see more prosperous days
for the church in Maurice.
In 1910 Father Chamhon listed as his personal possessions the hall with its
furniture, decorations, lights and plants, as well as all the linens,
towels, albs, purificator, and all the furniture in the house. The hall was
built at Father Chambon’s own expense in early 1909. The debt of $2,300.00
at 6% interest to Mrs. Louise Maitre of 205 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, was
necessitated by the installation of the rector, the repairing of hurricane
damages, and the acquisition of a fire-proof safe for the records.
In January 1910, the Ushers Society listed 50 members, the Young Men’s Club
had 20 members, the Ladies Altar Society had 30 members, and the Children of
Mary listed 28 members. Church population was 4.500 with 1,900
From April 25, 1910 to July 23,1910, Father
Chambon was absent. Reverend Desire Serrazin replaced him. Already ordained,
Father Serrazin, who had come from France, served several churches in our
area, then retired in France in 1930 and died in 1931.
Reverend Chambon returned to St. Alphonsus
in July 1910, and stayed until September 14, 1910. He had an interesting and
active life. As a military chaplain in World War I, he served in France. In
1938 he was made a domestic Prelate by the Pope with the title Right
Reverend Monsignor. He retired in 1949 at his residence in Slidell. He
died December 27, 1963, at his residence in Covington and is buried in St.
September 10, 1910, Reverend Louis Laroche, another priest from France,
became pastor. Father Laroche was born on September 22, 1872, ordained in
Mende in 1897, and entered the diocese in June 1901.
November 28, 1910, Father Laroche wrote a two—page letter on stationery of
the church of St. Anthony, Eunice, Louisiana, (where he had been previously)
to Archbishop Blenk. He said that Father Chambon had let him know that it
was the Archbishop’s wish that the church parish at Maurice acquire the hall
that was constructed on church property. Even though the debt was “heavy,”
he asked for permission to complete the transaction at a price of $1,000.00. He adds
that no other person would want this building at that price. The payment on
the hall was to be made after the payment of the debts on the church. In
this letter Father Laroche also asked for authorization to borrow $500.00
for repairs to the rectory (the middle part which was in ruins). He said he
would be able to pay this “little” debt each year from the usual revenues of
As in all the letters written to the Archbishop by the pastors, the closing
words are very humble, yet very ornate and elegant.
The Village of Maurice was
incorporated in 1911.
1912 annual report states that a mission was held during the Easter season
by Father Ferret of Bancker. Catechetical instruction was given before and
after Mass. The fees for marriages were listed at $20.00, $25.00, $35.00 and
$50.00. The reason for the differing amounts were the ornamentations & the Sanctuary: flowers, candles, choir, and
sermons. The prices for funerals differed as well for the same reasons.
On November 9 and 10, 1913, Auxiliary Bishop
J. M. Laval, during his canonical visitation, stated that a spacious hail
had been added and the presbytery had been raised several feet and many
rooms added. The parish still had not complied with the decrees of the 1907
canonical visitation (previous one). These decrees included the erecting of
a baptistery at the entrance of the church, the erection of a parochial
school and the scrupulous keeping of a journal. Four hundred persons were
confirmed that day.
In 1914 the Children of Mary had 13 white and 16 black members. Father
Laroche recorded paying Father Chambon $800.00 ($200.00 a year) for the hall
he had built.
collection for the Galveston hurricane damage in 1915 was $4.10.
his episcopal visitation on October 30, 1916, J. M. Laval, Auxiliary Bishop
to Archbishop Blenk, carefully examined the spiritual and temporal progress
made since his last visit. “The children presented for confirmation were
well instructed,” he said. Hard times had precluded the execution of the
decrees issued in the earlier visitations. He said, “We are happy to learn
this year that Divine Providence has granted an abundant harvest. We realize
that better crops will encourage the faithful in the future.”
The January 1, 1917 annual report by Father
Laroche listed a church population of about 3,500 with the number of
communions at 2,650. The Ladies Altar Society had 26 members; 112 white
children, 54 black children and 2 adults were baptized; 495 children were
confirmed; there were 29 burials; and 8 marriages with one mixed marriage.
At Leroy, the report states, Mass and catechism were held every Sunday.
Father Laroche said it was the wish of the parishioners that they have a
said it was possible to pay almost all the church debts and make the church
improvements. He felt it was desirable to rebuild the church because it was
not solid, not suitable, and it may be possible to rebuild the church if the
material conditions of the parish continued to be as good as in the past
Chapter 3, 1917 to 1967