ACADIA PARISH — A Catholic church in Morse is closed due to structural and safety concerns.
According to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Morse, the closure was out of concern for parishioner safety after structural issues were found at the church. According to Mayor Ray Richard, the walls of the church were falling in. Areas of the building were rotten and mold was also setting in. There were reports of leaks inside the building.
As a result of a meeting over the summer, The Diocese of Lafayette chose to close Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to the public. A meeting was later held in September to which parishioners were able to express their concerns on the closure and the Diocese could offer answers.
On social media, parishioners questioned when the structure would reopen, if at all. Richard says their concerns about the neglect come after the Diocese of Lafayette gave a total of $50,000 to three St. Landry Baptist churches. Those churches were burned earlier this year. Richard says that parishioners were contacting him over why money was not provided to fix their church which is a part of the Diocese of Lafayette.
Money from that collection for the St. Landry Parish Baptist churches was done through a "second collection" which parishioners in the Lafayette Diocese were able to give to if they wished.
The Mayor says that they don't mind the Diocese helping other churches, but feel that small congregations like theirs are being left behind.
"We are a community without a church now. Our community is not a Town without a church," he said. "Morse needs money to rebuild or tear down our church."
Parishioners are now having to travel several miles to other, often smaller Catholic churches in the area to attend Mass. Richard says the local residents are older and going just a short distance can be burdensome. As a result, he says that those people have stopped going to church.
The disrepair according to Richard has gone untouched because of lack of funds. "There was not enough to pay the bills to fix any problems so they went unfixed," Richard said.
"It’s a big church and utilities are high. Its [the church] been fixed by the people in town but the Diocese does not want to fix it this time." Richard says that maybe a new church should be built if Immaculate Conception would be torn down. He hopes that any help for the current church could bring outside congregations back to the Immaculate Conception which he said used to see large Sunday crowds.
"We want a church in town. There is a lot of money put out at different churches. We have mismanagement at the Diocese of Lafayette. They need to take care of small people, the small towns," Richard said.
A look at the Immaculate Conception church website shows the following statement.
Out of concern for the safety of parishioners worshiping at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Morse, Bishop Deshotel has decided that the Church must be temporarily closed until further notice. This decision is made due to concerns about the structure of the Church.
KATC has reached out to the Diocese of Lafayette about the closure. An official said that concerns were over the stability of Immaculate Conception Church but status on renovations were not available. It is unclear is any funds are put away for churches that run into disrepair or if any will be collected for Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to assist with those repairs.
A time frame on the closure was not known.
A statement from the Diocese was released at 3:20 pm November 5, 2019 on the issue.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Morse remains closed at this time, due to safety concerns over the structural stability of the building and the ongoing need for major repairs and renovation of the facility. Bishop Douglas Deshotel has met with the church pastor, parishioners and staff to discuss those concerns and to plan for the future, to ensure that the spiritual needs of the parishioners will continue to be met.
In the meantime, a number of nearby Catholic churches have invited Immaculate Conception parishioners to join them for Mass, including St. John the Baptist Church in Lyons Point, St. Aloysius in Midland, and St. Margaret in Estherwood.
The following weekend Mass schedule for Imaculate Conception is in effect until further notice:
Saturday 4:00pm - Lyons Point
Sunday 8:30am - Lyons Point
Sunday 10:30am - Midland