November 16, 2018
In 1839, Catholics of the upper part of Assumption Parish, on the west bank of Bayou Lafourche, expressed their wish to separate from the Church of the Assumption in Plattenville, ant to plan their own church at Paincourtville. On April 24, 1839, Fr. B. Armengol, C, Vicar - General, traveled to Paincourtville and blessed the cornerstone of the church which was to be built on land donated by Miss Elizabeth Dugas. Bishop Blanc quickly met the desires of the inhabitants by placing the church under the Vincentian Fathers who operated the Vincentian Seminary at Assumption Church in Plattenville. The small wooden church was blessed by the bishop on November 10, 1840. It included six missions: Brusly St Vincent, Brusly St Landry, Brusly Olivier, Brusly St Martin, Pierre Part, and La Belle Riviere. From 1840 to 1844, St Elizabeth was served by the Vincentian Fathers of Plattenville, but in 1844, Fr. A. Andrieu, CM, was appointed the first resident pastor. During his ten years as a pastor, the small wooden church was destroyed by fire. He promptly rebuilt a larger, more beautiful building at a cost of $10,000. Then in 1857 St. Elizabeth Parish came under the direction of the Diocese of New Orleans, and the parish would be served by diocesan priests from that time on. Fr. Andrieu was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Bertail, Fr. Veyrat, and Fr. LeSaicherre. And it was Fr. LeSaicherre, assisted by his brother Marie-Ange LeSaicherre, who planned to build the grand church that we have today. They drew plans for a new church modeled after their family church in Ploybalay, France. In addition to planning for a new church, Fr. LeSaicherre petitioned the Order of Mt. Carmel in New Orleans, asking that Mother Therese send Sisters to teach the young girls of Paincourtville. St. Elizabeth Church purchased a tract of land for a convent and school. The Sisters arrived on May 10, 1876, to open a boarding school and day school for young ladies, and they were received with open arms by the happy and grateful parishioners of Paincourtville. In 1912, Rev. Mother opened a school for boys, and in 1917, St Elizabeth became coeducational. St Elizabeth School remains today as a testament to the love, devotion, and faithful service of the Sisters of Mt. Carmel and their successors, the Carmelite Sisters. They have always been an inspiration to our children as well as an integral part of the spiritual life of St. Elizabeth Parish and the surrounding community. We are grateful to Fr. LeSaicherre for bringing them into our lives. However, Fr. LeSaicherre and his brother died before their dream of a new church was realized. The building would be left to the successors: Fr. Francois Renaudier and Fr. Canon Branche. It was to be the privilege of Fr. Branche to see the church of Paincourtville, an unsurpassed gem of pure Gothic architecture, ready at last for solemn blessing in 1902. Sadly in 1909, during a mighty storm, the magnificent spires that adorned the church came down, never to be replaced. Then in the 1920’s, the parish was blessed to welcome Fr. Grall, who had taught art at the University of Mexico. He, with the assistance of C.C. Balderas and Rodolfo Mejia, painted the entire interior of the church on three mediums: wood, canvass, and masonry. The elegance and detail of these paintings have enhanced this architectural jewel for all who have entered to worship. The last major change occurred in the 1950’s when the beautiful white Italian marble altar was dedicated. But as beautiful as our magnificent church is, it is the faith, dedication, devotion, and service of the priests, sisters, and parishioners, that demonstrate the great love and guidance that Our Lord and His Blessed Mother have continued to shower on our community. And every time there seemed to be huge problems facing our parish, God has led us in faith to a solution. Not hurricanes, yellow fever, or financial difficulties have weakened our resolve to love and serve Our Lord and to do His work for another 175 years.