About Our Parish

Notre Dame de la Paix

Known as Notre Dame de la Paix, Our Lady of Peace was established in 1864 amid the difficulties of Civil War and Federal occupation. The community of Vacherie, predominately Acadian French and German settlers and their descendants attended church at St. James Church or in a community grocery store. By 1854, land was purchased to build a church and cemetery. 

By 1856, wealthy sugar planter Valcour Aime donated money for a chapel bell, and the first baptisms were recorded. Despite adversity, the Catholic population grew, and the parish thrived. The first pastor of Vacherie was Father A. Duval, who served only a short time. He was replaced in 1865 by Father J. M. Ravoire.

Consecrated in 1902

In 1868, Archbishop Odin granted permission for the construction of a new church. A cyclone nearly destroyed the church in 1880, but undaunted by the destruction, parishioners donated materials to repair it. To spread the faith, priests from Vacherie traveled by pirogue to the nearby communities of Bayou Boeuf, Malaguay, Kraemer and Chackbay. By 1890, it was evident that the congregation required a larger church. Annual parish fairs were held to help raise money enabling construction to begin in 1893. The magnificent, cross-shaped church was completed around 1901 and was consecrated by then Bishop of Puerto Rico James H. Blenk, who served in place of Archbishop Chapelle. 

A parish school located on a one-room schoolhouse in front of the cemetery was established in 1891. In 1902, the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception established a convent in Our Lady of Peace Parish, using an old store which had been moved onto church property for their home. A crude old building served as the school, where the girls sat on homemade benches. In 1910, a new convent was constructed for the sisters. Unfortunately, the school closed in 1915 and the sisters left. The Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross began with work in this parish in 1951.

Time and neglect harmed the fine old church building but, beginning in 1949, repair work, including painting, a new floor slab, new pews, new confessionals and new stained glass windows, had begun. In 1954, a statue of Our Lady of Peace was donated by the Francois Sevin family and placed in the niche outside the front of the church. 

A new marble altar, consecrated by Monsignor Patrick Gillespie in 1965, allowed the priest to face the congregation. 

Our Lady of Peace Today

Today, Our Lady of Peace Parish is a vibrant community, centered on the Holy Eucharist, the members of which are sincerely committed to the building up of God's kingdom. Having withstood the changes and modernizations of many generations and pastors, the historical church structure stands as a tribute to the people of the parish who labored intensely and tirelessly to establish a home of praise and worship for family members and friends.

 

 

Consecrated May 22, 1902, the church has withstood powerful hurricanes, the tumultuous challenges of desegregation in the 1960s, and the liturgical changes of Second Vatican Council II. Through it all, however, the people of Our Lady of Peace have celebrated the sacraments, consoled one another in their sorrow and grief, rejoiced in one another's blessings, and supported one another through all of life's challenges.

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