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Parishioners at Iberia Parish church are seeking answers about the construction of a new family center for the parish

Parishioners at Iberia Parish church are seeking answers about the construction of a new family center for the parish
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Posted at 10:20 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 18:10:17-04

"We haven't gotten any information pretty much since then as to the price of the building how much was spent, how much is gonna be spent," said St. Edward Catholic Church parishioner, Deidre Ledbetter.

Parishioners at a New Iberia Catholic Church want answers about the construction of a new "Family Life Center" for their parish. One of the biggest concerns for those parishioners, a lack of minority contractors hired for the project.

St. Edward Catholic Church is a predominantly black parish in the city of New Iberia. It was founded in 1917, and according to the Diocese of Lafayette's website, more than 1,200 families worship there, but some of those worshipers say, they're not being represented in the family life center construction.

"Parishioners save money for years and years and years to see this building come up and we don't know how the money is being spent," said Deidre Ledbetter.

More than a dozen protesters at St. Edward Catholic Church demanded transparency from church leaders about the "Family Life Center" project.

One of their biggest concerns , a lack of minority representation among the project's contractors. It's an issue that's dear to Merve Boyance's heart.

"My grandfather helped build the foundation on this church, my father and great grandfather. I would believe they would like to see parishioners or even minority contractors work on this project," said Boyance.

Deidre Ledbetter led the protest and she says parishioners have been kept in the dark about the project's cost since it began.

"We haven't gotten any information pretty much since then as to the price of the building how much was spent, how much is gonna be spent, and the person, the general contractor on the deal, he didn't have to bid on it, it was given to him," said Ledbetter.

The Diocese of Lafayette says it's still looking at some decisions regarding the family life center. In a statement, Diocese officials said, the project is still in the preliminary stages and that they hope to have more information soon.

In the meantime, parishioners say they want to be involved with project and want their concerns to be addressed.

"We just want our voices heard. Maybe for them to rethink some of the things that are being done and let us know more about it, because if we don't pull ourselves up or stand up for ourselves nobody else will. This is our money and we should all have a say in how the money is spent," said Ledbetter.

Depending on the response they have from the protest will determine if they have another one.

Our investigative team also looked into the Diocese of Lafayette's policies regarding new building construction. According to a policy dating back to 2013, the Diocese reviews all the projects costing more than $20,000. Once the Diocese give its blessing for the project, the parish draws up preliminary plans and presents them to the diocese. The Diocese then reviews those plans, and discusses the method to take bids. If multiple bids are received, the Diocese accepts the "lowest competent bid."
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