Amidst the bold buildings of downtown Abbeville stands the architectural and historic pride of Vermilion--Saint Mary Magdalen Church. This beauty was established by Pere Antoine Desire Megret in 1842. This first church in Abbeville is the remodeled home of Joseph LeBlanc. It was named for the widely loved saint among descendants of Acadian exiles in South Louisiana. Behind the Church lies the city's first cemetery. It holds 357 graves with some more than one hundred years old.
Today, the atmosphere of the church holds treasured memories of its creation. Since its formation, St. Mary Magdalen Church has endured several trials that tested its longevity and the spirit of the community.
The first tragic incident occurred in February 1854--all baptism and
marriage records were destroyed by a fire in the church rectory. Since then,
many chapters of pastoral leaders strived to repair and expand St. Mary Magdalen
Church. One significant pastor was Father Alexandre Mehault who led the church
in 1870. During his residency, Father Mehault made outstanding improvements to
the church: he obtained a new rectory, bell, vestments, ornaments, stained-glass
windows, and hand-painted Stations of the Cross on canvas.
With the dedication of the people of Vermilion Parish, St. Mary Magdalen became a center of beautiful ceremonies and spiritual communion.
The second tragedy occurred on March 22, 1907--the whole church along with its records were annihilated by a horrible fire. A temporary worship center, called St. Ann's, was organized by Father Fabian Laforest. In 1911, the new St. Mary Magdalen was completed. In the years following, many enhancements were made to beautify the church.
In 1975, Holy Parents Chapel was created in the church cellar by Monsignor
Richard von Phul Mouton. On August 25, 1981, a third fire damaged this new
chapel. Renovations were immediately organized to restore the chapel.
Despite the troubles that St. Mary Magdalen Church encountered, it still thrives today as a center of values and tradition in the heart of Abbeville.
Written by: LanKhanh Pham (05)