IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH
A church is much more than stones and mortar. It has a PARISH HISTORY. It has a regular
SCHEDULE as well as SPECIAL EVENTS and there are CONTACT PERSONS A parish is its people
who have certain needs. The people need to hear the GOSPEL MESSAGE In order to help us
reflect on our lives we provide an EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE This examination of
conscience is based on the dialogue between the confessor Jesus and the penitent woman at
Immaculate Conception Church in Charenton, Louisiana is the sixth oldest church in the
Diocese of Lafayette. The Church was established in 1844. One of the earliest missionaries to
Charenton was Father Stephen Theodore Badin. Father Badin was the first priest to be
ordained in the United States. Badin was in the seminary at the time of the French Revolution.
Religious and priests were persecuted at the time of the French Revolution. So, if he were to
remain in the seminary, his life was in danger.
Badin fled to the United States and was ordained in Baltimore, Maryland in 1799. Soon after
ordination he was sent to the frontiers of Kentucky. He began to evangelize the area. He
bought land in a multi state area for development as future parishes and schools. He sold the
Holy Cross Fathers the land for the school, which was to, became the University of Notre Dame.
Father Badin was especially interested in the evangelization of Native Americans. That is
probably one reason he came to Charenton. Badin performed three of the first baptisms
recorded in our parish.
The parish originally included all of the area from New Iberia to Morgan City. Seven parishes
were formed from Immaculate Conception Church. Another seven churches were formed from
these original seven. Fifteen different parishes now serve the area originally served by
Immaculate Conception Church.
The first church to be formed from Charenton was what is now Assumption Church in Franklin
Louisiana. It was originally a small chapel known as "The Upper Room". It was served out of
Charenton. A formal parish was established in 1853. This is a picture of the original church.
Several churches were founded from this eldest child of Immaculate Conception Church in
In the 1890's Church of the Assumption founded a mission in Centerville, Louisiana. It was
almost 60 years before St. Joseph Church in Centerville was formally established as a parish.
n the 1930's the pastor of Assumption began going to Verdunville were he said Mass under the
trees. After several years Immaculate Conception Church in Verdunville was founded in 1938. It
served the Creole community of the area.
Five years later (1943) St. Jules Church was founded in Franklin. It was initially a mission of Holy
Rosary Church in Jeanerette. Eventually it became a parish and Immaculate Conception in
Verdunville became a mission of St. Jules. Originally the people living in Immaculate
Conception (Verdunville), St. Jules, and Holy Rosary were served by Immaculate Conception in
Charenton. In all Church of the Assumption mothered three grand daughter parishes for
Immaculate Conception in Charenton.
In 1879 St. John the Evangelist Church in Jeanerette was established as a parish. It was served
by priests from Charenton. Later priests from Charenton and Patoutville served the mission
until a resident pastor was appointed.
In 1944 Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Jeanerette was established to serve the Black
community in Jeanerette. It could be considered a grand daughter of Charenton since it was
establsihed out of St. John Church in Jeanerette, a daughter parish of Charenton. Jeanerette
has provided us with a daughter churh and a grand daughter church.
In 1892 St. Joseph in Patterson was founded. Like St. John the Evangelist Patterson was
originally a mission of Charenton. As the populations of Franklin and Jeanerette grew and that
of Charenton seemed to diminish some of our early missions came to be taken care of by our
St. Stephen Church in Berwick has a different history. It was first established in 1898 as a
mission of Morgan City. Then there was no Diocese of Lafayette. The entire area was under the
Archdiocese of New Orleans.
When the Diocese of Lafayette was established in 1918 the Atchafalaya River was set as the
eastern boundary of the new diocese. Then the mission at Berwick became a mission of
Patterson. The Church in Patterson was served first by Charenton, then by Franklin. So
Patterson was a daughter church of Charenton, making St. Stephen another grand daughter.
By 1963 St. Stephen Church had grown so much that it became necessary to establish a mission
church, St. Bernadette, in Bayou Vista. This became the first great grandchild of Immaculate
Conception Church. These images of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are only
used to illustrate the point that originally the entire area was served by Charenton.
n 1906 Father Bollard, pastor of Charenton built a chapel in Baldwin. For a time Baldwin was a
mission of Charenton. Then in 1936 the roles were reversed and Charenton became a mission
of Baldwin. Within a few years Charenton became a full parish once again.
In the 1930's St. Peter The Apostle Chapel in Four Corners was built as a mission church of
Sacred Heart in Baldwin. It was established to serve the Black community. In 1960 it became a
full parish. It could be considered a grand daughter of Charenton since it was established by
Baldwin, a daughter church of Charenton. St. Peter's is once again a mission of Baldwin.
Four churches were established out of Immaculate Conception Church: Assumption (Franklin),
St. John the Evangelist (Jeanerette), St. Joseph (Patterson), and Sacred Heart (Baldwin). Seven
other churches were founded out of these four: St. Joseph (Centerville), Immaculate
Conception (Verdunville), St. Jules (Franklin), Our Lady of the Rosary (Jeanerette), St. Stephen
(Berwick), St. Bernadette (Bayou Vista), St. Stephen the Apostle (Four Corners).
Three other parishes were formed out of areas within our parish boundaries. These new
churches also were taken from areas involving churches older than Immaculate Conception.
Technically these larger churches were the mother churches. However, Immaculate Conception
Church did play a role in the birth of these other three churches.
In 1868 a church was established in Patoutville. Although it was formally a mission of New Iberia,
many of the parishoners lived in an area served by Immaculate Conception in Charenton.
Several persons baptized in Immaculate Conception Church ended up in Patoutville.
In the 1960's the church was moved to Lydia.
In 1873 St. Joseph Church in Loreauville was founded. It was originally served by St. Martin of
Tours Church in St. Martinville, the mother church for the entire diocese of Lafayette.While St.
Martin of Tours was technically the mother church of Loreauville, parishoners also came from
the churches of New Iberia and Charenton.
Eighty years later in 1953 Our Lady of Victory Parish was established to serve the Black
parishoners in the Loreauville area.
In 1892 St. Helena Church at Louisa was established. I could find no record of it being a mission
of another church. It apparently was established and paid for by a grant from the Jules M.
Burguieres family. That would account for its direct establishment as a parish. A mission usually
was established under another church until it is economically self sufficient.
Jules was married to Marie Corine Patout. Most of their church records are in St. Nicholas
Church in Lydia. Their civil records are in the St. Mary Courthouse. So apparently they lived in
St. Mary Civil Parish. Both Burguieres and Patout appear in our church records. The parish is
located in large part in an area originally served by Immaculate Conception Church in
Today St. Helena is one of the smallest parishes in the diocese. It is largely populated by
persons of Vietnamese origin.
Today, despite the numerous churches formed from it, our parish is quite small and has only a
little over one hundred families who are active in the church. Many of these are senior citizens.
We do provide all the usual services to these families. We also have weekly Bible study, RCIA, a
monthly morning of reflection, First Friday adoration (noon until 5PM).
We have opened a museum which provides people with basic information on our history, the
diverse cultures that make up our parish. There is also a crash course in church history which
outlines the story of all 262 popes plus other persons and events which were important in
church history. For more about the museum visit its website by pressing MUSEUM
Because our membership is both dwindling and aging we need to think of future structures for
our parish. We are attempting to reach out to several other small parishes like ours. We would
hope eventually to merge with these churches into a single parish entity. Each parish would
maintain its own character and identity. However, they would be served by the same priest(s).
The number of priests would depend on the number of churches combined. This combined
effort would allow the individual small churches to offer services to all the churches that could
not be offered simply with the resources of a single church.
We have begun a multi parish program to create a program to train indiviuals so they might help
families deal with the loss of loved ones. We hope also to develop a program that will enable
families to assume primary responsibility for their own religious education. Both programs are
in their developmental stages. We do not know exactly where either one will go.
In dealing with grief we hope to provide the usual counselling and support groups. In addition
we hope to create some structures which will help person express their grief in a creative way.
We have created a special website for those attempting to deal with grief. To view this site
For three summers we hosted a special summer program of religious education for young
children. As part of that program we worked with the youngsters in dealing with their grief.
Most of the children have lost parents or grandparents. Several are the victims of divorce. We
have already opened a Kid's museum where they remember loved one who have died.
A second part of our program is developing religious education material based on the
questions and answers of the children. We began this program in the summer of 1999. Based
on the input of the children that summer we were able to put together a twelve page manual for
parents to assist in the religious education of their children. In summer 2000 we put together a
cathechism based on the children's questions and their answers.
We have an image of the Risen Christ to our sanctuary. The heart of our faith is the
Resurrection of the Lord.
Saturday 4:00 PM (anticipated mass)
Sunday 9:30 AM 5:00 PM
Monday Wednesday Friday 5:00 PM
Tuesday Thursday 7:00 AM
Saturday 3:30 PM
at other times, contact Father Bill
BAPTISMS and WEDDINGS
contact Father Bill
First Fridays from noon until 5:00 PM
Mass intentions Mary Vilcan 923-4649
(general) Father Bill 923-4281
Baptism Father Bill 923-4281
Church maintenance Whitney Vilcan 923-4649
Cemetery/ mausoleum plots Whitney Vilcan 923-4649
You can see a short synopsis of the papal history at our museum site
The gospel for the Baptism of the Lord tells us the people were filled with expectation. Their
forefathers had been in exile for a long time. They had returned to their homeland, rebuilt
their temple, and seemed to be putting their lives back together. Then the Romans came in
and took over the land. Their religious leaders spoke and acted like they were opposed to
the Romans but secretly made deals with them.
Then John the Baptist went into the desert and began preaching and baptizing. By right John
should have followed in his father's footsteps and became a priest. John was offering people
a whole new vision of their religion and its consequences. John was also critical of the
religious and political leadership. John had built up quite a following and they were filled with
expectation. But John knew his days were numbered. John baptizes Jesus hoping that Jesus
would carry on the work he started. Mark's Gospel places John's imprisonment and Jesus
taking up John's work at the very beginning of his Gospel.
That is the context of today's Gospel. Mark's Gospel omits many of the details given by the
other Gospel writers. If we look at Luke Jesus first mission is in his home town of Nazareth.
The people are spellbound by his teaching until someone remarks: "Isn't this the young man
who used to play with our children? Where did he learn all of this?"
Suddenly the entire focus of Jesus' message changes. The people no longer see the wisdom
of his teaching, they FOCUS on his background. I had some similar examples when I was in the
seminary. My first year in theology we were asked to give a homily. We could use no notes. We
were given no text or no topic, just told to give a homily. I knew I had to do something simple
and something I could remember. I found two stories and drew a lesson from the stories.
I got very good feedback on the homily until someone said: "Yeah, but all he did was tell two
stories and draw a conclusion. Suddenly the whole focus of the evaluation became negative.
The professor listened a few minutes then said: "Was he effective?" Yes. "Did he get his
point across?" Yes. "Well, that is what is important. Don't knock his style."
A few years later our seminary was seeking accreditation from a group which oversaw
educational institutions. The seminary was asked to do a self evaluation which included an
evaluation by the student body. A group was elected to prepare the self evaluation. The
questionnaire they prepared contained 50 questions about non academic questions, 25 about
the academic and 12 about the spiritual.
If the questions represented the reality of our problems we were in reasonably good shape.
But if the questions represented the FOCUS of our thought we were in bad shape. I never did
figure out which of the two the questions represented but feared it represented our FOCUS.
I use these two examples because baptism is a question of FOCUS. What do we focus on when
we think of baptism? Do we focus on sin? Or do we focus on being a servant of God? Today's
first reading calls us to focus on being a servant of God. As I prepared the homily I hoped to
give people something they could bring home to remind them of their baptism. I first thought
of a vial of water but didn't have enough vials to go around. I decided on a holy card which
would reflect what baptism is. The latter part of the homily simply reflected the ideas presented
in the holy card.
BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Today’s first reading shows
Jesus as being a SERVANT.
We are to follow him. But it
takes FOCUS for us to do so.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
Power? Being of service?
Is your sin and the sin of
others an obstacle to God’s
an opportunity for God to love
us even more?
Can you forgive yourself and
do you harbor grudges?
Do you try to change others
OR live humbly and hope your
example will help others?
These are a few examples of
what being a servant is. If we
do live as a servant we can
easily put ourselves down
So it is important to view us as
Servants in the same way God
SEE OTHER SIDE
Isaiah says the servant is also a
CHOSEN ONE. With whom God is
Why would God be pleased with
God tries to FORM us but we can
resist. The servant does not resist.
God has to do less work to reach
The servant also does much of the
work God would have to do if the
servant did not do it.
The servant’s eyes are open to God
and focused on God and so can help
others whose vision is blurred.
The servant is not a prisoner to the
things the world tells us are
important and so can be a hope and
model to others.
The servant views life in the light of
Jesus’ Gospel and can help enlighten
those in the dungeon of life
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to confession to Jesus himself? What
would he say? What would he do? We do have an example of Jesus hearing confessions (at
least a confession). We find it in the story of the woman at the well. She did not intend to go to
confession. She simply came looking for a bucket of water for her family.
It's a marvelous story. Jesus is sitting there resting. He is in Samaria and one of the local
women comes to draw water from the well. We can imagine her surprise at seeing a man there.
It was the woman's job to draw the water for the family. What was a man doing here? Then he
was a Jew. What was a Jewish man doing in Samaria?
The woman does not dare break the silence. Jesus says very softly; "Would you give me a drink
of water, please?" The woman is startled. Why would this man speak to her? Men did not speak
to women in public. Why would this Jew speak to her a Samaritan. Jews did not speak to
Samaritans at all.
She expresses her surprise. "How come you are even talking to me. And then you are asking
me to help you, to give you water?"
I imagine somewhat tongue in cheek Jesus says "Well if you knew who I was, you would ask me
and I would give you living water." Again, the woman is amazed and says: "You don't even have
a bucket. How are you going to draw this living water.?"
He then offers her living water that will flow unto eternal life. She takes that to mean "flowing"
water as in a river. She likes that and says excitedly: "Sir, if you have flowing water give it to me
then I will not have to come here each day to draw water!"
Jesus then asks her to bring her husband. "I have no husband!" Jesus tells her she is correct
in saying she has no husband. She has been married to five different men and the man she is
living with now is not her husband.
She first proclaims that Jesus is a prophet. Then acclaims him as the Messiah. Then she walks
off and leaves her bucket at the well. She forgot even why she had come to the well.
She went home, told the people of her town about Jesus and many were converted. They
invited Jesus to stay two more days in the town to preach.
The story gives us a marvelous insight into just how Jesus might hear confessions. He does
not start out by confronting the sinner with her sin.
He asks her for a cup of water. So, she does not come to him on hands and knees begging. She
has something to offer him. She is overwhelmed by his offer and feels unworthy. But Jesus
offers her something even greater. He is not going to be turned off by our unworthiness.
Only after establishing this relationship does Jesus confront her with her sin. By this time her
sin does not matter. She realizes that her sin does not matter to Jesus either. He has
something far better to offer her than sin.
She leaves her bucket and goes back into town to tell people about this wonderful person who
told her all her sins. She didn't have to tell them. He already knew them and still offered her
living water. So she went out and told everyone about this marvelous man who forgave her
sins. She became one of the first Christian missionaries.
This examination of conscience is based on the dialogue between the confessor Jesus and the
THE LORD'S GIFTS
What are the gifts I have to offer Jesus and don't even know of?
What barriers have I put in the way of recognizing these gifts?
What gifts AM I aware of? How have I used those gifts?
What gifts does Jesus offer me? How have I used them?
Do I use them for the good of others as well as myself?
THE WOMAN'S DOUBT
How often have I doubted that the Lord could work wonders in my life?
How often have I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by my problems?
LISTENING TO JESUS
Do I make an effort to understand the teaching of Jesus?
How faithful am I to prayer?
Do I listen as well as speak when I pray?
Am I really aware how much effort Jesus makes to reach me?
Do I pay attention to my dreams? My distractions in prayer?
Do I worship false Gods (even religious ones)?
Do I use God's name in vain (even in my prayer)?
Am I faithful to Sunday mass?
Do I really keep the Lord's Day or is Sunday just another work day?
How do I honor my parents?
RESPONSE TO GOD'S LOVE
In spite of the efforts of God do I feel overwhelmed by my own sin?
Have I forgotten (or never known) that the mercy of God is more powerful than any or all my
After reflecting on this story and this examination of conscience am I still worried about my sin?
How aware am I of God's forgiveness?
Am I excited about that forgiveness?
Am I excited enough to want to share it with others?
TO CONTINUE Pax Christi
TO RETURN TO HOME PAGE HOME
Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed the page.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH
3041 CHITIMACHA TRAIL
CHARENTON LOUISIANA 70523