PROUD MOMENT

Posted June 22, 2018 at 12:00 am

Assumption celebrates anniversary 

By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

 As menacing, dark clouds gathered on the horizon, Baron LeBrun scanned the grounds at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Plattenville. 

 

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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Plattenville celebrated its 225th anniversary Mass on June 10 during a Mass. A Family Day celebration and luncheon were held following Mass. Assumption is the oldest church parish along Bayou Lafourche.  Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 

 

Through the prism of his 55-year-old memory vault, LeBrun could still hear the laughs, see the sights and relive his boyhood years spent on those very grounds. 

For all of his life, Assumption has been LeBron’s spiritual buoy, his beacon of faith in a challenging society.

“I have never left,” said LeBrun, who was raised in a house one lot removed from the church and who now resides in the house next door to his childhood residence and the church. “This church is the focal point of the community.” LeBrun was one of an estimated 200 current and former parishioners as well as residents from throughout the area who gathered on June 10 to celebrate the church’s 225th anniversary. The large turnout came as little surprise to pastor Father Joseph Vu, who said it was reflective of the deep spirituality of the people along Bayou Lafourche.  

“They are very attached to their church,” Father Vu said during the Family Day celebration that followed Mass. “Put it beyond the sacramental (offerings), even the maintenance stuff, our parishioners are ready for manual labor or support us financially if we have to hire contractors.  

“Not only is it an investment spiritually but also an investment financially.”  

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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Plattenville celebrated its 225th anniversary during 11 a.m. on June 10. A Family Day followed Mass. The left  photo shows an interior of the church during the 1920s. Right, pastor Father Joseph Vu celebrates the anniversary Mass. The church, which was dedicated in 1856, has undergone several changes during the years, including those to make the church conform to Vatican II standards. Photos courtesy of the Archives Department of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator  

 

Assumption was founded on April 1793, making it the oldest church along Bayou Lafourche and 11th oldest in Louisiana. The official registers were opened April 20, 1793 and the first entry, a baptism, was recorded four days later.   

The first church, which was diminutive in size, was erected on the side of the current church. In 1817, the wardens of the newly incorporated church voted to build a new church, which was dedicated Dec. 20, 1819.  

The Sisters of Loretta at the Foot of the Cross opened a school. Ten years later, the Vincentian Fathers established the first seminary for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In 1855, the seminary burned, and three years later the Vincentian priests left.  

Assumption made history in November 1984 when it was clustered with St. Anne Church in Napoleonville, thus forming the first cluster parishes in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. St. Philomena Church in Labadieville is now included in the cluster.  

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Hurricane Betsy shattered the roof of Assumption in 1965.  

 

The current church was dedicated in 1856, built with bricks made in Plattenville. Since then, the church has undergone several renovations, including those to make it to conform to Vatican II standards.  

“This is their spiritual home, it’s their church,” Father Vu said. “It’s where they were baptized, received their first Eucharist, confirmed and later on married. On top of that their parents were the ones that grew up here, a couple of generations back.  

“It’s everything they know.”  

Certainly one who knows is Joseph “Cowboy” Williams, who has lived in the area for all of his 90 years. He was born just a few houses down the street from the church, and although he moved to nearby St. Benedict to be raised by family friends after both of his parents had died by the time he was two years old, he never really left Assumption.  

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The cemetery at Assumption sits next to the church, with graves dating to the 1800s.  

 

For the past 12 years, he has returned as a full-time parishioner.  

“I know everybody and everybody knows me,” Williams, a local horse trainer specializing in quarter-horses, said. “I’ve come here my whole life, and this church means a lot to this community.  

“It’s been a good life.”  

Father Vu said parishioners were enthusiastic during the two-and-a-half month planning process for the celebration. Helping ease the task was the fact many of those same parishioners had participated in the church’s 200th anniversary celebration, and still had the notes, and pictures of that historic event.  

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A statue of St. Theresa of the Little Flower greets visitors to Assumption Church. 

 

“It’s incredible how (their faith) is rooted in their lives, not only outside of church but also in their particular personal lives,” Father Vu said. “It really radiates a sense of who I am not only as a citizen but as a member of the entire Christian Catholic family.”  

Father Vu said he is genuinely excited when he visits a family’s home, and they talk about how their faith is so deeply rooted in their lives.  

“The church means everything to me, praying, being together with parishioners, trying to do the right things in life,” said LeBrun, who has been an usher since the age of 17, although there were a few breaks in there because of work. “It has kept us together.”  

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Following Mass, a procession went from the church to the parish hall, where those in attendance enjoyed lunch and fellowship.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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