About Our Parish

OUR PASTOR:  

REV. JUDE BRUNNERT, M.S.

Fr Jude came out of retirement to head up St. Joseph Parish in 2008. Asking Bishop Provost for an appointment preferably in a smaller, quiet  parish, he was given St Joseph's at the beginning of a much needed renovation; but he was up for the challenge. Through his diligent efforts the renovation went forward and was completed in record time and the debt was paid off within 3 years of completion with the final payment being paid in conjunction with the Parish Jubilee Celebration this March. He is no stranger to the area, having served as Pastor of St Jude Parish in Dry Creek from 1982-1987 and is an avid St. Louis Cardinals Fan.                     GO CARDS!  

 

St Joseph Parish Trustees

Tom Theaux, Cathy Bradley

St Joseph Parish Council

Carlos Archield, Bea Fontenot, Frank Rossi, Daryll Fontenot, Miranda Cooley

St Joseph Finance Committee

Robie Touchette, Terri Theaux, Brian Lestage, Francis Jouban, Colleen Hoerner

 

Humble Beginnings

St Joseph Parish is the Northernmost parish in the Diocese of Lake Charles. About 645 famlies are incorporated into the canonical parish and are ministered to by Rev. Jude Brunnert, M.S. 

The fact of geography has meant that St Joseph Parish, throughout it 75 year history, has been on the periphery of the state's Catholic centers. 

Protestant families from the southeast first settled the northern part of the Imperial Calcasieu. It was not until the development of the timber industry that a Catholic Population arrived. These were Italian, Lebanese, Albanian and Syrian immigrants, who were brought in or who came on their own, to work in the many sawmills located around DeRidder at the turn of the 20th century. Since the nearest priests were in Lake Charles or Alexandria, these Catholic families, following their age-old practices, would gather in different homes on Sunday to pray the Rosary and read the Catechism.

The first priest to visit came by horseback or buggy, usually arriving in the evening, and staying overnight in one of the homes of the families they were ministering to. They celebrated Mass in one of the homes the next morning, and then spent the remainder of the day baptizing infants, validating marriages, and administering the other sacraments as needed. 

The Rev. Hubert Cramers, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lake Charles, was one of those who made periodic trips to DeRidder. It was through his influence that the Rev. Vincent Ciolino was sent by the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the spiritual care of Italian and Albanian Catholics, while a Father Joseph (other name uncertain) who was visiting from Lebanono, agreed to assist with the Lebanese and Syrian Catholics.

In 1917 the famous Chapel Car visited DeRidder. This was a Pullman sleeper car, furnished by the Catholic Church Extension Society, in which the seats or beds had been removed and replaced by pews. One sleeping compartment was reserved for a priest, who usually travelled with the car. The railroad, for a nominal fee, would attach the car to a regular train and take it to some distant place and leave it on a side rail for a few days or weeks. There it would serve as a rectory and a church until it was time to move it to another location.

The visit of the Chapel Car persuaded some of the community leaders to begin a building fund. A plot of land on South Royal Street was purchased, but this was traded for land on North Pine Street.  In 1922 a chapel was constructed with funds provided by the building committee and the Extension Society. The first Mass was celebrated on June 13, 1922. The chapel was heated by a large pot-bellied stove, and cooled in the summer by four overhead fans purchased from Ideal Drug Store. In November of 1926 the Most Reverend Jules B. Jeanmard, Bishop of Lafayette, visited DeRidder, dedicating the chapel and conferring the Sacarament of Confirmation. He placed the chapel under the protection of St. Joseph.

Growing Through Change

A Ladies Altar Society as organized, and the ladies began to prepare for the day when DeRidder would have a resident priest. By begging donations, holding many pie and cake sales, they bought a small house on a lot contiguous to the chapel and were able to pay for it. This was to be the rectory, if, and when, they had a priest.

On June 13, 1938, their hopes were realized when Bishop Jeanmard established St. Joseph of DeRidder as a canonical parish and entrusted it the the care of the Missionaries of LaSalette. The Rev. James J. Shahrigian, M.S., was the founding pastor and in July of 1938 took up residence in the rectory the Altar Society had prepared for him.

Thereafter progress was swift. In 1948 a six acre plot was purchased on Merryville Highway, west of DeRidder, for a future school. Later, however, the Most Rev Maureice Scheznayder, who had succeeded Bishop Jeanmard in Lafayette, suggested that the site and funds collected for a school be used for a new church building and rectory. The new rectory was completed in 1957, and construction on the present church was begun in 1966.

 

In 1963 a mission chapel was constructed in Merryville and placed under the patronage of St Bridget of Sweden.

 

 

 

In 1977 the first class of permanent deacons was ordained in the Diocese of Lafayette, and the Rev. Mr. Sumner Kohlhund was assigned to St Joseph Parish where he served until his recent retirement this year.

 

Continued growth brought the need for a second mission and in 1983 St. Jude Mission was built between Dry Creek and Sugartown on Highway 113. Funds for this new structure came from the Extension Society, the Koch Foundation, the Bishop of Lake Charles and from funds contributed by St Joseph Parish. Bishop Speyrer dedicated the new chapel on the feast of St Jude in 1983.

The Religious Education Program was a central priority of Sr Rita Deschenes, SSJ, who served as Director of Religious Education for over 30 years until her death in 2010.  Today the program is supervised by Mrs Therese Pendley and reaches over 225 students. Classes are held September through May in the Holy Family Education Building.

Sr. Rita Deschenes, SSJ

Today, St Joseph Parish continues to grow and just completed an $800,000.00 renovation; the first since it was built in 1966.  

 

Pastors Serving St Joseph

1938-Present

  • 1938 Rev. James Shahrigian, M.S.

  • 1941 Rev. George Hoylen, M.S.

  • 1943 Rev. Bernard Really, M.S.

  • 1944 Rev. Leo Marsh, M.S.

  • 1946 Rev. Thomas Rush, M.S.

  • 1947 Rev. Eugene Lynch, M.S.

  • 1949 Rev. James Shahrigian, M.S.

  • 1960 Rev. William P. Hanafin, M.S.

  • 1969 Rev. Alverez Gilbert, M.S.

  • 1972 Rev. Robert Chagnon, M.S.

  • 1978 Rev. Henry Durand, M.S.

  • 1985 Rev. Egidio Vecchio, M.S.

  • 1987 Rev. Roland Bernier, M.S.

  • 2000 Rev. Daniel A. Torres

  • 2007 Rev. Kingsley Nonis

  • 2008--- Rev. Jude P. Brunnert, M.S.
     

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