By Junior Johnson
A historic event will take place in the Village of Cloutierville on Nov. 19 of this year. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church will celebrate it’s 200th Anniversary.
Built on land donated by Alex Cloutier, founder of Cloutierville, it began as a little Chapel and was Blessed Nov. 10, 1816 by Father D. F. Maybes, Pastor of St. Francis Catholic Church in Natchitoches.
In 1889 the Church opened the St. Mary’s Convent, operated by the Sisters of Divine Providence Order. They provided an excellent Christian education for the young people in the community, but it closed in 1965.
As more people moved to Cloutierville, additions were made to the Chapel. In 1921 Father Michael Becker arrived from New Orleans on a motorcycle with a side car that held all his Earthly possessions. He became the new Pastor of the Church and under his watchful eye and hard work the parishioners and Chapel grew. The Chapel was renovated in 1934 and then again in 1954. Father Becker worked tirelessly in the effort to enlarge the Church. Eventually, with its twin towers the Church was the most beautiful landmark in the area.
Sadly the Church was destroyed by fire June 20, 1985. Only a statue of the Crucified Christ remained behind the ruins, as if watching over the remains.
Almost 15 months later on Sept. 20,1986, Father John Cunningham lead a congregation in procession from where the old Church had stood to the new Church, and celebrated Mass for the first time in the new building.
The parishioners will now come together, 30 years after the dedication of the new Church, to celebrate 200 years of prayer and worship. Father Christian Ogbonna is the new Pastor, and under his guidance this celebration will be conducted.
The Church is using this historic occasion to make improvements on and around the Church, such as lighting and improvements to the walls of the sanctuary area, and other things that have declined through the years.
To help finance improvements on the Church a committee will be putting together a beautiful brochure as a special dedication to the history of St. John the Baptist Church. Businesses and community members can purchase advertisement space in this wonderful publication. The cost is as follows:
Full Gold Page
Full Silver Page
8 1/2×11……………. 75
Full White Page
8 1/2×11……………. 50
Half White Page
4 1/4×5 1/2……….. 25
Quarter White Page
2 1/8×2 1/4……….. 20
To purchase an advertisement just indicate the size and message that you would like to make and include a check made out to St. John’s Jubilee Fund – P.O. Box 40 – Cloutierville, La. 71416. It must be received by Sept. 30. For information call (318) 379-2231.
There will be a Mass Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10 a.m., followed by the official Blessing and opening of the Statue of St. John the Baptist, a life-size statue installed as a special memorial of this historic occasion.
Following the dedication there will be a banquet and program for all to attend at the Catholic Hall. A delicious meal will be provided and there will be a number of key-note speakers who will give a detailed history of this wonderful institution. There will also be musical entertainment both during and following the banquet.
If you plan to attend please RSVP so the church can prepare food and seating. For reservations call (318) 379-2231.
I encourage all of you to make plans to attend this wonderful celebration in my little Village of Cloutierville. For those who have never been there, you will not meet anyone, anywhere, who are more honest, hardworking, and Christian people. I am Blessed to call this wonderful area home.