HISTORY OF THE CONGREGATION OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES ROMAN
CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE PARISH OF AVOYELLES, LOUISIANA
is located at 1315 Egg Bend Road, approximately eight miles North of Marksville, LA, in the rural community of Fifth Ward,
also known as Egg Bend. Back in the 1840’s, the steamboat, “Valley
Queen”, made monthly runs from New Orleans, LA to various “Landings” along the Red River, bringing supplies
to the pioneer farmers along the route.
would gather on the banks at the bend of the river, which was approximately three miles down stream of the Avoyelles and Rapides
Parish line. They would bring pails, baskets, and boxes of eggs, along with locally
grown produce, to for trading for sugar, coffee, and calico.
of the “Valley Queen” began calling the landing and subsequently the settlement – “EGG BEND.” To this date the name remains on the U. S.
Corp of Engineer’s, The U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and Louisiana Department of Transportation Traffic and Planning
Division’s maps for the Parish of Avoyelles.
7, 1925, Mrs. Alice Beauclair, wife of Mr. Christopher Kelone, but from whom she is separated and divorced, declares that
for the purpose of erecting a Catholic Chapel in the vicinity of Egg Bend, donated one acre of land unto The Right Reverend
Cornelius Van de Ven, Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, LA and his successors in office, for the use of the Catholic Congregation
of Egg Bend.
May 7, 1925, Mr. Jacque Guillot and wife, Azelina , along with their children, i.e.; Armas, Julie, Denux, Emeric, Amenith,
Oliva, Toliver and Predeau; donate one acre of land unto The Right Reverend Cornelius Van de Ven, Bishop of the Diocese of
Alexandria, LA and his successors in office, for the use of the Catholic Congregation of Egg Bend.
4, 1925, Mr. Leonidas O. Kelone, married to Ida Ferry, donated 1.38 acres (+)(-) unto The Right Reverend Cornelius Van de
Ven, Bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, LA and his successors in office, for the use of the Catholic Congregation of Egg
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish of Egg Bend, Avoyelles Parish, LA was a mission parish of St Frances de Sales Catholic Church in Echo, Rapides Parish, Louisiana for many
years. In 1925 Father Joseph Jacquet’, a missionary priest from France,
who was stationed in Echo, Rapides Parish, LA, built the first church, with the
help of five men, Christopher Kelone, Maurice Neck, Ulyssess Lemoine, Cicero Bonnette and Jacques Guillot. Before completion of the church, Father Jacquet’ died. He
requested that he be buried next to his little church.
was named in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times, in 1858, to Bernadette
Soubirous, a young peasant girl, now known as ST. Bernadette, revealing herself
as the Immaculate Conception. Asking
that a chapel be built on the site of the vision, she told the girl to drink from a fountain in the grotto. No fountain was to be seen, but when Bernadette dug at the spot designated by the apparition, a spring
began to flow. The water from the still flowing spring has shown remarkable healing
1, 1941, the “CONGREGATION OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE
PARISH OF AVOYELLES, LOUISIANA” was chartered as a corporation, domiciled at Marksville, RFD, in the Parish of Avoyelles,
State of Louisiana. The short name for the church is “Our Lady of Lourdes
of Lourdes Catholic Church continued as a mission of St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church under the pastorship of Father Isadore
Deculear and Father Herman Couvillion. The priests would travel by horse and
buggy from Echo to the Church in Egg Bend to conduct church services.
Bishop Charles P. Greco consented to make the Egg Bend area a “Church Parish.”
He purchased an old building from Camp Claiborne after World War II, for conversion as a rectory for the church.
priests, Father John Jansen and Father Henry Beckers were the first resident priests to live in the rectory. Father Jansen remained in the Church Parish for many years, while Father Beckers stayed a short while. Mrs. Sue Boucher, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was hired as the housekeeper. Miss “Sue”, as she was affectionally known, served in that capacity for twenty eight years.
this time, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, in Moncla, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, became a mission church of Our Lady
of Lourdes Catholic Church and remained so until June 30, 2010 at which time it became a mission church of Saint John the
Baptist Catholic Church of Deville, Rapides Parish, LA.
Passchyn who remained a short while, later replaced Father Jansen as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St John the Baptist
Charles Dekeukalere was next appointed as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and St John the Baptist Churches,
in 1955. He remained in that position until his departure in May of 1982.
16, 1959 The Most Reverend Charles P. Greco, Bishop of Alexandria, transferred the three tracts of land that were donated
to The Right Reverend Cornelius Van de Ven, Bishop of Alexandria, and his Successors in Office, for the use by the Catholic
Congregation of Egg Bend; along with all building and improvements thereof, to the “CONGREGATION
OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE PARISH OF AVOYELLES, LOUISIANA CORPORATION”.
Father Charles Dekeukalere oversaw the building of a new church with the old church being converted to a church hall. The old church remained in service until it was sold in 1970 to Reverend Bonnette
of Simmesport, Louisiana, to be again used as a church. A new church hall was built in 1971.
Jules Claes was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. John the Baptist Churches, in May 1982. He initiated several needed projects to include the paving of the church parking lot.
Father Angelo Messina, also known as Father “Snoopy”, because of his Snoopy doll collection, became the new Pastor,
bringing about a new development and participation in the churches. Father Messina
was the first diocesan priest assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church by the Diocese of Alexandria.
1990, Father Kenneth Roy, a native of Avoyelles Parish was appointed by the Diocese of Alexandria to serve as the Parish Priest
where he served until June 1993.
Mathew Michael succeeded Father Roy as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St John the Baptist Catholic Churches. In 1996, Father Mathew left to pursue studies in clinical pastoral care, which administers care to the
sick in hospitals.
1996, Father Daniel P. O’Conner, a diocesan priest, replaced Father Mathew as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic
and St John the Baptist Catholic Churches. Upon his departure from Our Lady of
Lourdes, Father O’Conner served as Boy and Girl Scout Chaplain for the Diocese of Alexandria and as director of Vocations
and Seminarians. He also became pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in
Rusty Rabalias, an Avoyelles Parish native replaced Father O’Conner as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St John the
Baptist Churches in February 2000. Father Rabalias remained in this position until June 2005.
He was reassigned to St Joseph Catholic Church, in Marksville, Louisiana as pastor.
Paul Kunnumpurarm, M.S.F.S., a native if India, was reassigned from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Vidalia, LA to
Our Lady of Lourdes and St John the Baptist Catholic Churches, Egg Bend and Moncla, respectively, Avoyelles Parish, LA, on June 1, 2005. Father Paul has worked
diligently to improve church participation and mass attendance. He has overseen the construction of an addition to the rectory,
which serves as a conference, CCD class, meeting room.
Silverino Kwebuza, A. J., a native of Kanungu District, Uganda, was appointed Pastor of Holy Ghost / St. Richard Catholic
Churches, Marksville, LA; a position he held from August 2003 until June 2008
at which time he went back to Uganda until May 2010. On July 1, 2010 he was assigned
as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Fifth Ward (Egg Bend) and St. Martin of Tours Church in Belledeau, Avoyelles Parish,
Father William Gearheard,Jr. came to Our Lady of Lourdes Church from the Diocese of Lafayette on July 1, 2016. He served as
Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Fifth Ward and St. Martin of Tours in Belledeau for only one year.
Father Kurian Zachariah, a native of India, became Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Fifth Ward and St. Martin of Tours in
Belledeau on July 1, 2017. He first served as an associate pastor in Marksville at St. Joseph's when he came to America. He
continued to serve at various churches before coming to our church.