In the early 1960's, the Judice community could have been considered a rather unique community. It was comprised of several families with descendants of several generations still living in the area. It was basically a farming community with the primary crops consisting of cotton, rice, soybeans, corn and cattle. However, it was not uncommon for non-farming families to have a few head of cattle and some chickens in their "back yard" for their own consumption. Just about everyone had a garden and often brought their neighbors fresh vegetables. Many men of the community were skillful at more that one trade. There were several bricklayers, plumbers and carpenters in the area. The community had a cotton gin, two lumber yards and several neighborhood grocery or general merchandise stores. The men of the community were hard working and their primary role was to provide food and shelter for their families. The wives of the community were mostly assigned to the role of raising their families and having a good meal ready for their husbands and children two to three times a day. They were also the spiritual leaders in most families. In the 60's, the women still wore some sort of head piece when they attended church. It was very common for families to visit each other often or just stop in for a cup of coffee. This was a time when neighbor helped neighbor, without being asked. It was very common to see farmers helping farmers with their harvest or plowing. Many of the people were French speaking. It was not uncommon to find several people of the community that only spoke French and little or no English. One of the focal points of the community was Judice High School, consisting of grades one through twelve and having a very active athletic program.
The people of the community were predominately Catholic. However, they were members of five different church parishes. These were St. Joseph in Rayne, St. Peter and Paul in Scott, St. Alphonse in Maurice, St. Theresa in Duson and Holy Cross in Lafayette, which at that time was located on Ridge Road. Many were confused as to which parish they belonged and pretty much attended the church their parents attended.
Several attempts had been made in the early 1960's to form a mission or parish in the Judice Community. An early 1960's fundraiser in Scott raised $200.00, which was put into a "fund" to be used later. These early attempts were not well organized and were not supported by the area pastors of the different parishes. They also did not have the support of then Bishop Schexnayder. This often left the people of the community frustrated.
Many of the attempts were stimulated by the fact that some of the children had to travel long distances for religious training. Religion classes in the 5 parishes were held soon after school dismissed. This did not leave much time for those parents in the Judice area to get their children to the religion classes in other parishes. Because of this many children did not get formal religious training. Thus, the lack of formal and structured religious education was one of the main catalyst that inspired the people of the community to form a mission or parish.
In the early 1960's, a few people of the community visited Father Daniel Schexnayder in Scott to discuss the problems of lack of religious training for their children. One solution they were offered was of taking their children out of school early so they could attend religion classes at neighboring church parishes on time. This idea was unacceptable to the parents.
Around 1965, Father Lawrence Fournet of Scott offered to sell or donate a building to be moved to the Judice Community to be used for religious education. A group of about 15 people attended a meeting to discuss these arrangements. An acre of land was even offered to be donated to locate the building.
By September of 1966, after a year of back and forth discussions, the idea was dropped. The main problem was the expense of relocating the building.
In the late 1960's, Father Schexnayder informed the parents they could have their own religion classes at a more convenient time if they could find the teachers. This presented no challenge to the community, and several women of the community volunteered to be trained as religious teachers. They were trained by nuns of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Scott. Religion classes continued to be taught in Scott by the parents until May of 1969. At the same time, some of the children were attending religious training at Holy Cross and other parish churches.
On May 4, 1969, Bishop Maurice Schexnayder ordered an area of about 5 square miles to be incorporated into the Holy Cross Church. It was the Bishop's intention that a mission and eventually a parish would be formed in this area. Area parishes would not only lose parishioners, but also funds. This was met with much opposition from Father Oscar Chauvin at St. Theresa's in Duson and Father Joseph Dubuc at St. Alphonse's in Maurice. Other area pastors, Father Daniel Bernard at St. Peter and Paul in Scott, Father Emery Labbe at St. Joseph's in Rayne and Father Francis Weber at Holy Cross supported the Bishop's decision.
On May 22, 1969, the first mass was said in the Judice Community at the home of Dupre and Teresa Hebert. Father William Crumley celebrated the mass under the carport. Masses continued to be said in different homes in the community. It was common to have a mass in a home where a child of that home was receiving their first communion or being baptized. Also priority was given to homes where there were elderly or sick.
On May 23, 1969, a meeting was held in the Holy Cross Center for the Judice Community to discuss the formation of a mission of Holy Cross. Seventeen people attended the meeting which was led by Father Weber and Father Crumley. A committee of four men was formed to look into the idea and see if the people of the Judice community would support such a mission. The committee consisted of Dudley Earl Duhon, Clayton Duhon, Dupre Hebert and Floyd Guidry. Father Weber assigned Father Crumley to head the Judice mission.
At 7:00A.M. on July 6, 1969, the first mass was celebrated by Father Crumley in the Judice High School Auditorium. Arrangements had been made with the parish school board to use the auditorium, as long as a janitor was paid $5.00 to open and close the school. Bobby Guidry and Paul Gerard served as altar boys. Floyd Guidry, Dupre Hebert and Albert Leblanc were the first ushers. Dudley Earl Duhon was the lector. There were about 112 people in attendance. The first collection totaled $43.30. Mothers and daughters of the community dressed the pulpit with a banner made from unused newspaper rolls.
A single mass continued to be said on Sunday at 8 A.M. until June 18, 1970. At that time, a Saturday 6 P.M. anticipated mass and a Sunday 7:30 A.M. mass were added and celebrated at the Judice High School. During the Lenten season in 1970, a mass was celebrated each day in a different home. Again priority was given to the sick and elderly. It is not certain when a choir was started at Sunday masses in the Judice High School auditorium. Because there was no piano or organ to provide music, the first choir sang along with a 33 rpm phonograph record.
During the summer months of June, July and August of 1969, Father Crumley visited the homes of many of the people of the Judice Community to ask them to support their mission church in Judice. This was met with some resistance since many of them did not want to leave the church they had always attended. Also, some of the area pastors were encouraging them to stay with their customary church.
These people did not want to offend their pastors. They were God-fearing people. Yet some of themwere encouraged by the interest from Father Crumley and did begin to attend their new mission church. Again the area priests in Rayne and Scott encouraged them to support their new mission church.
On July 13, 1969, after 7 A.M. mass, Father Crumley held a short meeting to introduce the idea of a "parish council". He needed volunteers because this council would consist of many committees. The idea of a parish council was new to the area and was not a normal practice in the Lafayette Diocese until Bishop Frey came in November, 1972. St. Basil was one of the first parishes to have a church council in the Lafayette Diocese. Father Crumley had read in church publications about such councils being formed in other areas with a lot of success. It was a way of getting many of the people of the community involved with their mission. The setting up of committees meant that the committee chairperson could seek more volunteers. Leslie Bertrand was selected as Land Committee Chairman.
On July 15, 1969, a meeting was held at the home of Burley Pellerin. This meeting was to discuss different potential sites of land on which to build a church. Much to the pleasure of Bishop Schexnayder the people of the community were starting to organize. As was stated earlier, many attempts were made to start a parish or mission in the Judice community. Having the full support of the bishop made this attempt different. It was neither an attempt of a "rebel pastor" nor the attempt of a few unsatisfied parishioners.
In September, 1969, CCD classes started to be taught in as many as 8 to 10 different homes in the community. Many of the women in the community had surveyed the area to see which children would be attending religion classes. The objective was to locate the classes as close as possible to the students. Classes were set up after school hours which made it more convenient for the parents. The total emphasis was to set up good programs of religious education for the children of the community. Also, much time was spent training different women to be religious instructors. Once the church was in a useable condition, even though it was not complete, arrangements were made with the school to have the children delivered immediately to the church for religion classes. Construction was stopped on the afternoons of religion classes. Parents would pick up the children after religion class at the church. This practice continued until the hall was built.
In October, 1969, the land committee met and discussed as many as 7 to 8 different sites that were under consideration for the new church. One of the priorities was to have the church near the school. The land just to the east of the Judice High School was the most desirable, but arrangements could not be made with the Lormand family who were the owners. There was a coulee between the school and the land, and it was decided that if the land could be purchased a bridge would be built to make easy access to both. Once this site and others were omitted, it was decided to select the land on Doc Duhon road belonging to Mr. Celestin Begnaud. This was a 2 acre parcel of land and could be purchased for $8,000.00. One problem that existed with the choice of this property was that it was located in St. Alphonse Parish. Father Weber and Father Crumley asked Father Dubuc, pastor of St. Alphonse for his cooperation in selecting the desired property. Father Dubuc responded later in a letter that he had spoken to his trustees and they did not support the idea, and thus, he was not giving his support.
On Friday November 24, 1969, two members of the land committee, Leslie Bertrand and Nolan Guidry had a meeting with Bishop Schexnayder to discuss the problems with their land selection and the non-support of the area pastors, namely Father Labbe and Father Chauvin. The following Monday, Bishop Schexnayder asked Father Weber to have all the area pastors meet at the Holy Cross rectory at 7:30 P.M. Father Chauvin from Duson refused to attend the meeting and sent word to the bishop, "Tell the Bishop I'm opposed to starting a parish in Judice". Father Dubuc continued to oppose the idea. Later that evening at around 9 P.M., Bishop Schexnayder sent word to the land committee that they had his permission to start the process of acquiring the land from Mr. Begnaud. On December 16, 1969, Leslie Bertrand and Nolan Guidry visited with attorney Freddie Hayes in Lafayette to draw up the papers so they could be presented to the Bishop for his final approval. Although the land sale was not officially recorded in the Lafayette Parish clerk of court records until July 30, 1970, a down payment of $1,000.00 had been made to Mr. Begnaud to secure the land. This was noted in the first church bulletin published on January 25, 1970.
On November 30, 1969, Tawnya Hanks was the first girl to receive her First Communion at the new mission church. On December 14, 1969, Frankie Adian was the first boy to receive his First Communion at the new mission church. Both were held in the Judice High School. It was a customary practice at that time for children to receive their First Communion as individuals instead of groups. This was sometimes done in their homes with a mass being offered in the home.
On December 2, 1969, a meeting was held in the Judice community to acquaint everyone with the purpose of the mission and the selection of a name for the mission church. At the suggestion of Father Larry Dark and Father Weber, the name of St. Basil was selected. This was in honor of Basil Anthony Moreau, the founder of the brothers, sisters and priest of Holy Cross. The budget committee had drawn up and presented the first budget.
On December 6, 1969, the council committee met to draft a temporary constitution. The constitution provided for 15 members, consisting of the pastor and 14 laymen or laywomen. Each November seven of the members would be appointed by the pastor and 7 members would be elected by the community. The first year all 14 members were appointed by Father Crumley. The constitution also would provide for seven different committees chaired by seven of the councilpersons. Father Crumley felt that the formation and success of the parish council would heavily determine the success of the mission and the eventual formation of the parish. As each committee was formed, they would invite others in the community to be on their committee. This would get more and more people in the community involved in their church.
On December 18, 1969, the first council meeting was held in the home of Burley Pellerin. The constitution was adopted and officers were elected. The first president of the St. Basil Parish Council was Nolan Guidry. Soon after, the people of the community started referring to their mission as the St. Basil Mission, and this was how it was noted in the bulletins and on baptismal certificates.
On December 25, 1969, a mass was said by Father Crumley in the home of Floyd Broussard. This was the first Christmas mass celebrated in the St. Basil Mission. On this day Dionne Terez Broussard was baptized and Drake Jude Broussard received his First Holy Communion.
On January 15, 1970, the second council meeting was held in the St. Basil Mission to discuss three major items. The first was to discuss plans for the church building. Two separate plans had been drawn up for a multi-purpose building. After a lively and heated discussion, the smaller and less expensive plan was chosen. A few days later a special council meeting was called and this decision was reversed and the second set of plans was selected. This reversal was mainly due to the continuous promise of the Bishop that by June of 1970 the St. Basil Mission would become St. Basil Parish. It should be noted that the controversy over the different plans was prompted by the past failures to get a church or parish formed in the Judice Community. Many community people were worried that all their efforts and funds raised would be unfruitful. If St. Basil was never declared a parish, or if Bishop Schexnayder did not allow them to build a mission church, the funds raised could all go to Holy Cross. The second item of discussion involved preparation of the Lenten season. Masses were to be said in homes every day during the Lenten season, and there would be discussions after masses to acquaint the people with the changes in the mass due to take place on Palm Sunday. The third item of discussion was the first major fundraiser in the community. It was to be a Mardi Gras dance on Sunday February 8, 1970.
On January 25, 1970, the first bulletin was published for the Judice Mission. It was noted that the name of St. Basil still needed to be approved by the Bishop, and thus, the bulletin was named Holy Cross Church, Judice Mission. It was later changed to St. Basil Mission of Holy Cross. At that time the financial statement showed a total income of $1,434.86 and total expenses of $1,086.09. The announcement of a benefit dance for the Judice Community Catholic Church was to take place on February 8, 1970 from 3 PM---till at the Pellerins Belvedere Dance hall. Admission was to be $1.00 per person.
Soon after the first bulletin was published, B & B Office Supply offered the services of its Xerox machine to make copies of the bulletins. They also donated the paper for reprints. This allowed St. Basil to afford a weekly bulletin. Many of the covers on the bulletins were hand drawn by Yvonne Broussard. They showed the advancement of the church on the February 22nd bulletin from a barren piece of land and noted Nothing Grows Unless You Love It which was changed on the March 1st bulletin to All Things Grow When Loved. The week after the sign was erected on the property the bulletin noted "The Sign of Hope….Constructed by Faith…..Erected by Love". When the trailer was hauled onto the property, The Dawning appeared on the bulletin cover. The backs of some of the early bulletins even had Father Crumley's Corner, which was a spiritual message. Bulletins gave ratings of movies shown in the theaters in Lafayette. It is believed that the rating came from the Legion of Decency. A different family from the community folded the bulletin each week and was acknowledged for their work. Mass attendance was counted weekly and published. It was the usher's duty to count the mass attendance. There was a "Tale Bearer" section in the bulletin which told of non religious news. Such news consisted of how late Father Crumley stayed at the dances and when his "maroon wheels" would be coming back into town from a vacation.
Late January through March, 1970, there was a lot of correspondence between Father Crumley and Bishop Schexnayder that seemed to set the tone between the Judice Community and the Lafayette Diocese. Father Crumley expressed the anxiety of the people of the community to move forward. They had formed a council, selected a name, had plans for a building, prepared for Lenten season and had a source of financing. All they wanted was the approval to proceed from the bishop. Bishop Schexnayder responded that they were moving too fast. They could not borrow money because they were not a parish and thus not incorporated. He stated that he would not proceed until after the June ordinations. Father Crumley noted in his response that many missions in the diocesan directory had remained missions and never become parishes. He further expressed the concern of the community that they had obtained land and were raising money but had no direction. Bishop Schexnayder informed Father Crumley to measure distances from the land on Doc Duhon Road to each neighboring church. He also reiterated the fact that his intention was to make the mission a parish in June. He concluded, however, "one never knows what may happen in three months". This left a lot of doubt in people's minds.
On January 25, 1970, the first sound system was installed for masses in the school auditorium. Jimmy Hernandez lent the amplifier and microphone.
On February 14, 1970, (it was originally scheduled for February 8th) the first fundraiser was held at Pellerin's Belvedere Dance Hall. This was a Mardi Gras dance with a $1.00 donation admission charge. Pee Wee Whitewing and Joe Hebert provided the music. Jimmy Hernandez was in charge of this and many other fundraisers. Over $2,000.00 was raised. This was added to the previous $200.00 that had been raised several years earlier in Scott. Monsignor Bernard of St. Peter and Paul in Scott added another $100.00, and thus, the first money from fundraisers amounted to $2,300.23.
But despite the general enthusiasm of the people, there was still some concern among the community that their efforts might all be for naught. Father Crumley wrote Bishop Schexnayder on March 15, 1970, expressing the uneasiness of the people. The pastors in Maurice and Duson still were not supporting the new mission. In fact, they were encouraging their parishioners even more to attend their old church by sending them church envelopes and thus asking them to be supportive of their old church. And a lot of these parishioners did not want to offend their pastor. Some would even rather miss mass than risk the anger of their pastor by going to another church. The people had been disappointed before. There was some concern that it would happen again and thus all their efforts may be for naught. Also the issue of Holy Cross being in debt from building a new church was mentioned. The fact that Holy Cross had to borrow money and was still in need of a rectory might make it difficult for the Judice Mission to also borrow money for a church in Judice. The people wanted something more definite than "some day".
The bishop had continued to say that he would make the Judice mission a parish in June of 1970, as soon as the next ordination of priests was complete. To be able to appoint a pastor to St. Basil, the bishop would have to replace him with another priest. There was a shortage of priests even in the late 1960's. Yet, many thought this was just a delay tactic. Again, they had been disappointed before.
The next two council meetings in March and April seemed to bring out the fact that Judice was a unique community with good religious and civic minded people. All phases of community life were discussed including highway safety, helping with the heart fund, scouting, recreational and cultural needs for the community, family life, education and summer programs for adults and youth. Mr. Wayne Smith from the Serra Club spoke to the council about vocations. It was decided that the older boys from religion classes would visit a seminary. A mass and covered dish supper honoring the CCD teachers was planned, as well as a teenage dance. It was as if the more they did, the more they wanted to do.
During the Lenten season a daily mass would be celebrated in-one of the homes of the parishioners. The mission was divided into 5 sections and 5 leaders were appointed to find homes each week in his area. Notices of the mass schedule were published in the bulletins and on hand drawn signs.
Under the direction of Dot Duhon, CCD Coordinator, the in home religious education classes, had been a great success the first year in the Judice Community. On May 17, 1970, a CCD Day was held at the Judice High School auditorium. One hundred and fifty children from grades 1 to 6 were awarded Blue Ribbons for attendance. An additional 50 were given perfect attendance. Over 22 teachers and Father Crumley received certificates.
A second fundraiser was held on May 31, 1970, at Pellerin's Belvedere Club. This was a free dance which also included a raffle and gumbo. A calf, donated by Claude Hanks, a recliner donated by S & C Furniture Store, and $85.00 in cash were given as raffle prizes. The raffle tickets sold for 50 cents or 3 for $1.00. This fundraiser netted a profit of $1,595.41. The hall was provided free of charge by Mr. Pellerin and the band Joe Hebert donated their time. Later in the year, during the month of August, the Maurice Fire Dept. held a benefit dance for the Judice Mission. This was again another incident in an era of neighbor helping neighbor.
On April 4, 1970, the sign reading St. Basil Catholic Church was erected on the recently purchased property on Doc Duhon Road. The ironwork frame was done by Nolan Guidry and the sign was painted by C. C. Daigle. The Sunday bulletin cover noted the new sign with the words "Sign of Hope….Constructed by Faith….Erected by Love". Mass attendance on Sundays had risen to 191. Weekly collections were $106.33. Progress was being made. In a letter to Bishop Schexnayder, Father Crumley had expressed that it would be a big moral booster to the community to erect the sign and bless the land. By May 1970, the bishop had set all the boundaries for the new parish except for what would separate Holy Cross from St. Basil.
By May of 1970, rumors were circulating in the community that Father Crumley would not be appointed the pastor of St. Basil once it was named a parish. It was rumored that Father William Koch, a priest from Cow Island would be named the new pastor. A letter signed by members of "St. Basil Council" was sent to Bishop Schexnayder requesting that Father Crumley be named the pastor of St. Basil. This letter brought a harsh response from Bishop Schexnayder to Father Crumley. He instructed Father Crumley to instruct the people that they were not a Parish Council because a parish did not exist. And they were not a stepchild of the diocese as they had indicated in their letter.
Much was speculated as to why Father Crumley was not appointed as pastor of St. Basil. One idea centered on the fact that Father Crumley was a member of the Holy Cross religious order. He was subject to the Provincial of his order who at the time was Father Christopher J. Otolle. Father Otolle would have needed to approve Father Crumley's appointment. This differs from a diocesan priest who is ordained for a particular diocese and his assignments are subject to the Bishop of the diocese in which he is ordained.
Even though the wishes of some were not granted, the news from the diocese overshadowed any disappointment. On June 8, 1970, St. Basil was elevated from a mission to a parish. It was also reported that Father William Koch was appointed the first pastor, effective June 18th. Because the Decree of Erection is June 8, 1970, this is the official start of the parish of St. Basil and should be recognized as its official anniversary date. The Southwest Louisiana Register reported on June 11, 1970, that Father Koch would be appointed the pastor of St. Basil. Just as Bishop Schexnayder had promised all along, St. Basil was a parish by June.
Father William Crumley said his last mass in the home of a parishioner on June 10, 1970. Father Crumley remained at Holy Cross as an associate pastor until 1971. He was appointed administrator of Holy Cross in 1971 and remained administrator until 1973 when he was appointed pastor of Holy Cross until 1977. Just as all the priests since then, God had blessed the community with a priest with special talents. Not only was he a true spiritual leader, Father Crumley was an organizer. He had an uncandid ability to get people to do things above their expectations. He was instrumental in getting a parish council started in the Judice Mission, a relative new idea for the Lafayette Diocese. He had always stated that the formation of the council went a great deal toward the success of Judice Mission becoming St. Basil Parish. Father Crumley and the community had a great supporter in Rosemary Crumley, his mother who had moved into the area from Biloxi, Mississippi. Although not a native of the community, she helped in many ways to show her support toward their efforts. It was now time to move forward.
The people embraced their new pastor and welcomed him to the community. On June 14, 1970, Reverend William Koch, the first pastor of St. Basil Parish, said his first mass. Father Koch came to St. Basil from St. Anne's in Cow Island where he had served as pastor. The mass was said in the Judice High School auditorium. It was immediately evident that the community accepted their new spiritual leader. They were ready to move forward. Bishop Schexnayder had informed the people of the community that once they were named as a parish and a pastor was assigned to them, the pastor would need a home. After a special meeting of the parish council, on June 15, 1970 a trailer was purchased as the first rectory for Father Koch. It was immediately deemed by one of the parishioners as the "rolling rectory". It had cost $4,000.00. A water well was dug a few days later. With everyone helping Father Koch was living in the rectory a few days later. Word quickly spread throughout the community that Father Koch was not much of a cook. Not to worry. Many of the women in the community organized and scheduled to provide meals for their new pastor.
Michael Jude Mouton, son of Harvey Mouton was the 1st child baptized in the Parish of St. Basil. The baptism was performed in the Mouton home on June 21, 1970.
Of course the community could not go on without one more thank you to Father Crumley. He was given a farewell party at the old Holy Cross Church Hall on Ridge Road on July 10, 1970. Father Crumley and his mother Rosemary were presented with several gifts by parishioners. A cake with the words "All Things Grow When Loved" decorated one of the tables. Many in the community attended to express their gratitude for all that Father Crumley had done for them.
The people of the parish were anxious to move forward and start construction on their new church. The first spade of dirt was turned on the evening of July 13, 1970, by Floyd Broussard. Actual construction began on July 14, 1970, under the direction of E. J. Simon. The main carpenters were Howard Simon and Alexie Patin. Many of the men in the community assisted the carpenters after their work day and on weekends. Father Koch had assured them that working on Sundays was permissible and "they were not sinning". All the labor was volunteer work except for Mr. Patin who received a small salary. It was often noted that he worked more hours than required and worked on Saturdays for free. This was another example of everyone pitching in to make their dream come true. Bishop Schexnayder made a few visits to the church while under construction. On one occasion some of the workers did not recognize him and the word quickly spread "watch your language".
One early morning in August saw many of the workers pouring the slab. By August 8th, the frame of the church was going up. The church had been intended as a multi-purpose building with accordion doors separating the altar area from the main seating area. The area behind the altar would be used for weekday masses. One of the original plans called for exit doors behind the altar. The main area of the building would be used for Sunday masses and as class rooms to teach religion classes. There was a kitchen which also served as a meeting room for council meetings. Stories were told of card games and a few beers being enjoyed after council meetings. The kitchen wall contained a glass window open to the main areas of the church, and thus, served as a "cry room" during masses. The kitchen was located on the west end of the church to the left of the exit. There were restrooms to the right of the exit door on the west side of the building. It was often commented that this was immediately deemed a "problem" when everyone in church could tell that someone had used the bathroom by the flushing of the toilet. The baptismal room was located where the current "cry room" is located. Next to it was the confessional. The main entrance to the building was recessed and thus the entrance hallway was much smaller than the existing hall of today. The organ was located in the rear of the church as were the statues of Mary and Joseph.
The main altar, the baptismal font, and the pastoral candle stand were built by Clyde Potier, his brother Merlin Potier and Donald Guidry. Father Koch had promised Clyde Potier that his son would be the first baptized in the new church. Joseph Clyde Potier was baptized in the uncompleted church in the late 1970's. The pews were donated by the Cathedral of St. John. Stallace and Harold Breaux built the repertory, the kitchen cabinets and the frames for the Stations of the Cross. They also built the altar that holds the tabernacle. The frames for the Stations of the Cross were one of the last projects worked on by Stallace Breaux before he died. The Cross behind the altar was donated by Hilda Patin in memory of her husband, Alexie Patin after he died. The original parking lot was shell which caused a problem with dust. The material cost of the church was $14,000.00 and the total cost came to under $40,000.00. The first brick was laid on September 30, 1970, by Father Koch. Bricklayers in the community provided their labor at no charge. Floyd Guidry and Dudley Earl Duhon were two of the main electricians.
The Catholic Church Extension Society gave St. Basil $5,000.00 to help fund its building. Bishop Schexnayder and Holy Cross Church also each gave $5,000.00. This $15,000.00 fund helped St. Basil get established financially.
The first mass was said in the unfinished church on September 20, 1970, at 7:30 A.M. A second mass was also said on that Sunday at 10:00 A.M. There was no air conditioner in the church the first few weeks. Father Koch would tell the parishioners every Sunday that hopefully it would be installed by the next Sunday. When a cool front came through one weekend he commented, "I guess the good Lord has sent our air conditioner". Morning masses on weekdays started in the uncompleted church on October 2, 1970. Altar boys were required to serve mass before school. Home masses were discontinued once weekday masses began in the church.
The first ladies altar society was formed on September 22, 1970. Twenty-six ladies met in the home of Annie Bertrand. Officers were elected, with Annie Bertrand being the first President of the St. Basil Ladies Altar Society. As many as five different committees were chaired by different members. Dues were set at $2.00 per year. Meetings were scheduled on every third Tuesday of the month to be held at the church when completed, but would be held in different homes until that time. They would also meet on Saturdays to clean the church in preparation for Sunday mass. Cleaning was a big job, because of the ongoing construction and also because of the shell parking lot which was a constant source of dust. It came as a great relief to the altar society when the parking lot was changed to gravel in the summer of 1972 due to the help of a parish police juror. Their main duty was to provide candles, wine, the bread for communion, altar boy cassocks and other supplies for the church. Fundraisers included cake sales, rummage sales and religious article sales.
The council was constantly looking for different ideas for fundraisers. Of course their main fundraisers for the first seven years were the trail rides which were held in the fall at Alec Broussard's air strip and hangar. This was located where the current Judice Fire Department in now housed. The first trail ride was actually called a barn dance and took place on September 24, 1970. It netted $1,743.19 which was used as partial payment on the air conditioner for the church. There was a smaller trail ride held at Burley Pellerin's in May 1971, which netted $1,000.00. The first big trail ride was held on October 2nd and 3rd of 1971. The trail rides were two-day events for the first three years. The fourth, fifth and sixth were three-day events. After the seventh trail ride, the fundraiser was turned over to the Judice Fire Department as its fundraiser. People within and outside of the parish helped with the trail rides. The event included dances, bingo, food, games for the youth and auctions. Much of the food, beer and auction items were donated. One story was told that they once auctioned off a "dead horse". They even auctioned off Father Koch's hat. Not only did the trail rides serve as a fundraiser for the church, they also brought the community together and helped put Judice on the map. People came from as far away as Texas to attend the trail rides. A Sunday mass was said at the trail ride to make it more convenient to attend church after a long night.
By October 10, 1970, the Cross donated by Nolan Guidry was installed in front of the church. At this time the church was nearing completion on the outside. Father Koch had stated that it seemed as if the work had slowed down during the winter months. He blamed the cold weather, the hunting season and the Christmas season. But his concern was justified, especially during hurricane season, because at one time there was only plywood on some of the doors.
As stipulated in the council's constitution, November rolled around and it was time for the first parish council elections. Seven new members were elected to the council out of eleven candidates. With the new and old members present, the last parish council meeting for the first St. Basil council was held on November 19, 1970, at Floyd Guidry's home. The new members held their first meeting on December 10, 1970. One of the main topics was the problem with the kitchen and the bathrooms in the church. Everyone also became aware that teaching many classes in an open area of church caused problems. It seemed as if teachers were trying to compete with each other so their students could hear them. Preliminary discussions were begun on a church hall and a cemetery. As one parishioner noted, "we realized we were going to start dying sooner or later".
Although the church was still incomplete, the first Christmas midnight mass was celebrated on December 25, 1970. Lights were installed on the cross atop the church and the inside was decorated with flowers and a nativity scene.
On January 28, 1971, 2.33 more acres of land were purchased from Eula Begnaud. This was to be used for a cemetery and later a mausoleum. The land was purchased for $11,650.00.
The first confirmation in St. Basil was held on February 24, 1971, at 10:30 A.M. Bishop Schexnayder presided over the ceremony. As many as seven priests, including Father Crumley, attended the event. The bishop and other priests were served a dinner in the main body of the church after the ceremony. About 80 children were confirmed on that day. This in itself showed the progress the church was making. Attendance for Sunday masses had risen to over 600 people.
Originally the dedication of St. Basil church was scheduled for April 4, 1971. The bishop had to change the date because that was Palm Sunday. The dedication was rescheduled for April 25, 1971. It was time to put the finishing touches on the church.
On March 13, 1970, Nolan Guidry came with a lift truck and redwood was put around the outside cross. Also some last minute painting was done outside the church. Claude Hanks came with his tractor and land leveler to begin preparations on the grounds for the St. Basil Cemetery. On April 11, 1971, St. Basil celebrated its first Easter in the new church. On April 21, 1971, the statue "The Risen Christ" was installed above the main entrance of the church. This was a gift from Father Koch's family and was brought over by his family from their home in Holland. It was specially designed for St. Basil Church. Some called it Christ the Pilgrim.
By April 18, 1971, the lots for the cemetery were laid out and were offered for sale at $100.00 per lot.
And finally the big day arrived….the dedication of St. Basil Church by Bishop Schexnayder on April 25, 1971, at the 10:00 A.M. mass. Invitations were sent to all the parishioners. A tent was set up outside for the reception after mass. The church parish council members were seated together behind the altar. Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus from Rayne, Lafayette, Kaplan and Cow Island graced the solemnities with their presence. The Rayne Community Chorus provided the music for the dedication. All the long hours and frustrations were put to rest by many of the original members. But this was more about a community coming together to achieve something that many thought could never be accomplished.
By June 1971, the debt of the church was completely paid except for approximately $500.00. Father Koch suggested that the congregation put together a parish directory. It would contain a pictorial history of the parish, a picture of all families in the parish with phone numbers and addresses. This project never seemed to materialize.
The ground breaking for the church hall took place on June 17, 1971. Only $10,000.00 was borrowed to build the hall. The slab was poured on June 29, 1971. The building would consist of five class rooms, a kitchen and an office for the pastor and CCD coordinator. Clyde Potier and Donald Guidry were the main carpenters for the hall. Aaron Clark was one of the main bricklayers. Some of the labor was performed at half of the normal wages. One bricklayer noted that he normally charged $6.00 per hour to lay bricks, but worked on the hall for $3.00 per hour. At the August parish council meeting, Father Koch expressed his concern that the hall would not be completed in time for religion classes, to begin the third week of September. He later instructed the parents that in the event the hall was not finished, they would have to start teaching religion in their homes. Religion classes began in the hall in November 1971.
In September, the first anniversary of the first mass was observed. Father Koch had finished the census of the parishioners in the parish. He noted in a letter to Bishop Schexnayder that St. Basil had 320 families in its parish. This was a huge difference from the 400 families that were believed to be within the St. Basil Parish. Attendance at Sunday masses varied between five and six hundred every weekend.
As the new year of 1972 came around, Father Koch presented the parishioners with the annual fiscal report. At that time St. Basil owed $30,000.00. $10,000.00 was for the new hall, $14,000.00 was for the land and $6,000.00 in other debts. Father Koch's yearly salary was $3,000.00. Weekly mass attendance was still between 500 and 600 persons and weekly offertory collections were around $300.00. But this was a priest, parish council and a parish that would not stand still. In February of 1972, the parish council decided to move forward with plans for a mausoleum. A pay telephone had been installed in the hall for the convenience of the children. By October, 1972 plans were being made to replace the pews in the church. It was estimated that new pews for the church would cost over $7,000.00. The trail ride in October, 1972 was dedicated to the purchase of the new pews. By December 31, 1972, the kitchen had been removed from the church. Also in December, 1972, the new church parish council decided to write a new constitution. One of their concerns was the large number of committees, and the lack of communication between the council and the pastor.
Much to the pleasure of many of the parishioners, the new pews for the church arrived on March 5, 1973. At one time Father Koch had offered to give an old pew to anyone who would purchase a new one. He advertised that the pews could be called antique furniture. Some parishioners said they purchased pews through a sealed auction. One account states that Father Koch told the parishioners at Sunday mass that the new pews were to arrive Monday and the old pews needed to be out of the church by then. Those pews that had not been previously purchased were moved out by early Sunday afternoon. The new pews were purchased from a company in Crowley, Louisiana. There had been a debate as to where to purchase the new pews. One company offered to sell some oak pews. This idea was scrapped when it was noticed that the wood from the oak pews would split. It was decided to purchase the veneer pews.
The year of 1973 was again one of progress for St. Basil Parish. In May, 1973, Bishop Frey celebrated mass at St. Basil Church. Bishop Frey had been appointed Bishop of the Lafayette Diocese on November 7, 1972. By October 1973, the slab was poured and work had begun on the new rectory to replace the "rolling rectory". Claude Robin was the main contractor for the rectory. The main carpenter was Murphy Trahan. Father Koch had often stated that the rectory would be the last thing built, since it was the least needed. Father Koch never had the opportunity to live in the rectory. In early February 1973, the parishioners were saddened to hear that their pastor, Father Koch, had been reassigned to Lake Arthur, Louisiana.
In October, 1973, St. Basil suffered the loss of one of its founding members. Alexie Patin died. His wife, Hilda, donated a velvet altar curtain and a cross in honor of her husband.
Monsignor Fernando Roy would be the new pastor for St. Basil Parish. Just as in the past and the future, the good Lord had blessed the parish with the right pastor at the right time. Not only was Father Koch a spiritual leader, but as one parishioner noted, "he was a builder". The parish was starting from scratch when Father Koch arrived and in three years and eight months they had accomplished so much. They had built a church, a church hall, a cemetery, and were starting on a rectory. But besides the brick and mortar, they had come together as a community under Father Koch's guidance. They had started a Ladies Altar Society and a Men's Club, had two successful trail ride fundraisers and were on their way to being debt free. The parishioners honored Father Koch with a farewell party in February, 1974 at the church hall. Many of Father Koch's friends and parishioners attended the function to give gifts and say "Au Revoir" to their pastor. Father Koch said his last mass at St. Basil on February 22, 1974. Father Koch was assigned to Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Arthur, where he remained until September 10, 1975. At that time he resigned from the priesthood.
Once again the community and the parishioners were welcoming a new pastor to St. Basil Catholic Church. Monsignor Fernando Roy was coming to them from Holy Rosary Church in Kaplan, Louisiana, where he had served as pastor for eleven years. He was officially assigned to St. Basil on February 23, 1974. Monsignor Roy said his first mass at St. Basil on February 24, 1974. A welcoming party was given for Monsignor Roy in March 1974 in the St. Basil Church hall.
By April 1974, Monsignor Roy was moving into the completed rectory. The "rolling rectory" had been sold and was moved off the church property on April 26, 1974.
The remainder of 1974 saw the parish moving along at the normal pace of a church parish. Monsignor Roy celebrated his first Easter mass at his new church on April 14, 1974. He administered First Communion to many boys and girls dressed in their white outfits on May 26, 1974.
The September financial report for fiscal year September 1973 to September 1974, showed that weekend collections had averaged about $365.00 per week. The pastor's salary was now $3,600.00 per year.
The completion of the mausoleum had been delayed due to the damage of marble in shipment. The mausoleum was due to be completed in 1974.
St. Basil was still sponsoring the St. Basil trail ride in 1974. In that year, the trail ride netted over $9,000.00. This was a huge difference from the first trail ride that netted $1,743.19.
By May 1975, the pastor's salary had risen to $4,800.00 per year. A report showed that St. Basil still owed $6,000.00 on the land and $23,000.00 on the rectory.
The October 1975, trail ride netted over $13,000.00.
St. Basil made its last purchase of land on March 12, 1984. At that time, it purchased .818 acres of land on the west side of the church hall from Celestin Begnaud for $16,000.00.
Monsignor Roy resigned as pastor of St. Basil Parish on September 1, 1980. He retired as an active priest and moved to St. Francis Regis Parish in Arnaudville, Louisiana. He died at the age of 76 on October 27, 1989. He had been a priest for 45 years, having been ordained in 1940. He was replaced by Father Conley Bertrand, who came to St. Basil from Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette, where he served as Spiritual Director. Father Bertrand stayed as pastor of St. Basil from September 20, 1980 until July 1, 1989. He was assigned as pastor of St. Marcellus in Avery Island, where he remained until he retired in 2001. Father Bertrand was replaced by Father Henry Broussard, who came to St. Basil from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Leroy. He remained at St. Basil until July 1, 2004. He was then assigned to St. John Berchmans Church in Cankton, Louisiana. Father Henry Broussard was replaced by Father Rex Broussard, who also came from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Leroy. Father Steve LeBlanc came from St. Pius and succeeded Father Rex Broussard in July 2018. Father Donavan Labbé is our current pastor, since June 2022.