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Behind-The-Scenes: Abbeville’s St. Mary Magdalen Church

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If you are from South Louisiana, odds are that you practically spent time every Sunday in Church. That was the case as I was growing up in Abbeville, splitting my required pew time between St. Theresa’s on Charity Street and “the big church”, St. Mary Magdalen, near the old bridge.

Having attended both of these churches, and not having been an alter boy or a lay person, I had never been “behind the scenes” of either. Well, one of those churches can be scratched from my bucket list! Father Louis Richard was gracious enough to open St. Mary Magdalen church for me (and my videographer Millennial Sam), and he gave us a thorough tour, to include the bell and clock tower.

Did you know that, back in the 1970s, the church had a psychedelic-painted coffee shop? Father Louis told us that he and some other friends from high school helped turn that part of the basement into a coffee shop for the high school kids to hang out after school. The “grown-ups” weren’t too keen on it, but the clergy felt it was a good idea, as it kept the kids close to the church. That coffee shop has since been transformed into a chapel (1975), as you’ll see in the video.

The history of the church is interesting, dating back to the mid-1800s: fires, lost records, new construction. The church’s website even talks about one young priest from St. Mary Magdalen who lost his life in service to our country during WWII.

During Father Daull’s pastorate, youth work began in earnest due mainly to the zeal and energy of a young assistant who came in 1938 — Reverend J. Verbis Lafleur. Father Lafleur lost his life while a prisoner during World War II. He lost his life while aboard a sinking prisoner of war ship. He was last seen persuading men to leave the hold of the ship, blessing them and helping them up the ladder to possible safety. – St. Mary Magdalen website

Again, thanks to Father Louis for the tour, and thank you for watching!

(St. Mary Magdalen, Youtube/99.9 KTDY)


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