St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church
1210 Main Street     |     P. O. Box 372     |     Hackberry, LA 70645     |     337.762.3365
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Bringing the Good News alive!

Hackberry
Saint Peter the Apostle Parish, which occupies the western part of present-day Cameron Civil Parish, includes within its boundaries some of the older inhabited portions of Imperial Calcasieu. The first to settle on what was referred to as Hackberry Island was the Ellender Family, which homesteaded the area some time before the Civil War.

I
n 1869, when Immaculate Conception was established in Lake Charles, the Catholic families of Hackberry Island began to be visited by Lake Charles priests. In 1890, when Sacred Heart Parish was established in Creole, Hackberry became a regular visiting place for the new pastor, the Rev. John Engberink. During Father Engberink's tenure Hackberry was a regular visiting spot, and a mission chapel was erected there shortly before his departure, and was known as Doiron Mission.

In 1908, Hackberry was honored by the presence of the Most Rev. James Blenk, Archbishop of New Orleans, who visited the western part of his See to carry out Confirmations. The Archbishop was transported around to the Cameron Parish Churches and Chapels by a launch owned by F. A. Von Phul, of Lake Charles.

The Lake Charles American Press reported the visit as follows: "His Grace, Archbishop Blenk, arrived and was accompanied by the following priests: Rev. J. B. Jeanmard, secretary to the Archbishop; Rev. Devirat of Crowley; and Rev. John Baptiste, the latter gentlemen a missionary in Japan, sojourning in the U. S. At present . . . His Grace and the visiting priests were taken to Hackberry, and upon arriving Monday evening the Archbishop was met by a delegation of the citizens here and escorted to the church, where confessions were heard here and escorted to the church, where confessions were heard and instructions given tot he confirmation class. This morning high mass was celebrated in the church, which was followed by the Archbishop delivering a forceful sermon to the confirmation class . . . "On June 3 Archbishop Blenk held confirmation services in the beautiful little church at 10 a.m. Mass was celebrated prior to confirming the class, the able Archbishop delivered a strong and forcible sermon on the topic, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul." "At the conclusion of the services the Archbishop and party were taken to the house of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Vincent. At the announcement of dinner the Archbishop and Fathers Jeanmard, Renyal, Devirat and Cramers together with Messrs. Von Phul, Watkins and your correspondent, were invited to a delicious spread, the finest we have ever eaten . . . "The party left Hackberry at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning for Leesburg on the splendid launch "Phoenix," owned and managed by Commodore von Phul and the popular 'Dick' Watkins." Such were the early days of the Faith in Hackberry. It was not until the post-World War II industrialization of Calcasieu Parish, that the Hackberry area grew large enough to become a canonical parish. The edict of establishment was issued by Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard, who had visited the area with Archbishop Blenk as a young priest, and who was now Bishop of Lafayette. The Rev. Theodore Brandley, MS, was the founding pastor. Since that time the parish has expanded its facilities. A new church was built and dedicated in 1964. It has a seating capacity of 300. The rectory has been rebuilt and expanded, while a cemetery and a parish hall have been added. St. Peter Parish is one of the largest in the Diocese of Lake Charles in terms of square miles, occupying the western half of the civil parish from Calcasieu Lake west to Sabine Lake. Because of this size, St. Peter Parish includes two active missions -- Holy Trinity in Holly Beach and Our Lady of the Assumption in Johnson Bayou. These two missions are under the care and guidance of a resident priest, the Rev. Roland Vaughn. There have been nine pastors of St. Peter Parish since Bishop Jeanmard established the parish 45 years ago. They are: 1955 - Rev. Theodore Brandley, MS; 1960 - Rev. Francis Lundgren, MS; 1962 - Rev. Richard Donahue, MS; 1967 - Rev. John McNamara, MS; 1970 - Rev. William Doherty, MS; 1973 - Rev. Joseph M. McMahon, MS; 1975 - Rev. Alvarez Gilbert, MS; 1977 - Rev. Edward Brunnert, MS and 1987 - Rev. Eugene F. McKenna, MS.

When Father McKenna assumed the reins, he was coming to familiar territory, since he had been at St. Peter Parish before on a temporary assignment. After Father McKenna died in 2001, Father Roland Vaughn was assigned to St. Peter's and now serves as pastor to the entire St. Peter the Apostle Parish and its missions--the parish now comprises 260 families in Hackberry, Holly Beach and Johnson Bayou. Five members of Saint Peter the Apostle Parish have been decorated by the Diocese of Lake Charles for their services to the parish. The five, who have received the Devoted Service Medal of the Diocese are Douglas Gray, Velma Lowery, Eve Bouillion, Alfred Devall and Patricia Little. The parish is one of the few in the nation with two Knights of Columbus councils: F. J. Pavell Council 8323, domiciled in Johnson Bayou; and Father John McNamara Council 11576 of Hackberry. Both have compiled outstanding records in recent years. The Agnes Pavell Court 2265 of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas is made up of members affiliated with the Holly Beach and Johnson Bayou Missions. Both are consistently supporting the efforts of Father Vaughn. (This history was written by Truman Stacey of and for the Diocese of Lake Charles for the Jubilee Year 2