The church parish of Saint Peter in Carencro, Louisiana, was created by Archbishop Napoleon Joseph Perche of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. Rev. Father A. J. M. Guillot was appointed the first pastor of the parish. Although no edifice was erected for three years, the new church parish was dedicated under the patronage of “Saint Pierre,” the French rendering of Saint Peter, Apostle. This was done at the suggestion of Mr. Pierre Cormier who had donated land for a church site. However, Mr. Cormier’s tract was deemed unsuited for the construction of a church building and it was exchanged for a tract belonging to Mr. Jean Jacques Coussan. The present church was the fifth built on the site. Two were destroyed by fire and two by storms. This church building was erected in 1904 and remained relatively unchanged until 1947 when Msgr. A. M. Wassler became pastor. During his time of service to the parish, the building was renovated and transformed into the present structure of distinctive style and beauty. Thirteen pastor’s have served Saint Peter Church since its establishment in 1874:
Rev. Father A. J. M. Guillot [1874-1877]
Rev. Father J. F. Surriray [1877-1880]
Rev. Father M. Welte [1883-1892]
Rev. Father F. A. B. Laforet [1893-1899]
Rev. Father F. J. Grimaud [1899-1920]
Very Rev. A. Canon Viel [1936-1946]
Rt. Rev. Msgr. A. M. Wassler [1947-1968]
Rev. Father R. D. Edwards [1968-1990] * served as co-pastor with Nunez from 1983-1990
Rev. Father A. G. Nunez [1983-1994]
Rev. Father Gregory Downs [1994-2000]
Rev. Father Bill J. Melancon [2000-2011]
Rev. Father Mark Ledoux [2011- ]
The Main Altar
The main altar, of Baroque Architecture, was hand carved in Belgium and brought to the United States in 1893 for exhibition at the Chicago World Exposition. Rev. Father Forge, who was pastor at St. John Church in Lafayette, the present Cathedral parish, purchased the altar. In 1936, new altars were obtained for the Cathedral and Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard donated the Baroque altar to Saint Peter Parish. In 1949, Msgr. Wassler restored the altar to its present condition, stripping off its many coats of paint and sealing the natural wood. Later, when the Second Vatican Council revised the liturgy which called for the priest to face the congregation for parts of the Holy Mass, the lower portion of the altar was removed from the back and brought forward, without destroying the original visual effect. The side altars, which originally complimented the main altar, had been given else where. Msgr. Wassler was able to locate one of the side altars, which is now the present altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Saint Joseph Altar was constructed to resemble the other.
The Ceiling Beams
The ceiling beams that adorn the church were painted by Michael Muller of Colmar, France. He had come here as a student to study one year at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana, in Lafayette. The “Praying Hands” is the design of the center beams in the sanctuary. On the other beams of the sanctuary he created designs using the names and symbols of the prophets. All other designs on the beams are original. Muller was not able, in his limited stay in the country, to complete the painting of all the beams in the main body of the Church.
The paintings in the sanctuary, the nave, and in the main body of the church are reproductions of famous works of art in European Cathedrals and museums. These reproductions were also painted by Michael Muller. The two paintings in the sanctuary are Muller’s copies of the works of Mathias Grunewald, “The Annunciation” and “The Birth of Jesus.” The painting located in the center of the main body of the church, “The Crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” is also a Grunewald reproduction. The Grunewald originals are housed in Le Musee de Colmar in Colmar, France. The paintings above the center aisle are representations of 13th Century stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Chartres in France. These particular windows were chosen to be reproduced for their magnificent colors as well as their subjects. Two paintings, outside the sanctuary are also by Muller. On the right is “The Visitation” and on the left is a painting by Muller based on a composite photograph by local photographer Calvin Blue. In this painting, Saint Anne is pictured with the Madonna and Child along side the Mt. Carmel Order whose religious sisters pioneered catholic education in Saint Peter Parish. Also included in the paintings are Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard, the first bishop of Lafayette who was raised in Carencro, and Msgr. Wassler who was the pastor responsible for the beautification of the church.
The Altar Rail
The altar rail, which was used in past years to receive Holy Communion, was made in France and is of hand-forged iron designed by Joseph Muller, an architect of Colmar, France. The top of the railing is covered with a plate of solid brass.
The Stained Glass Windows
The windows, among the finest examples of stained glass in the United States, were made in Colmar, France. Specifications were sent to Joseph Muller who supervised the project in France. Most of the windows were designed by Robert Gall and the project executed by Leon Kempf, both being of Colmar. Because of some dissatisfaction, Mr. Gall quit the project before completion and another artist, Antoine Heitzmann, designed the rest of the windows. Each window portrays a major event in the life of Saint Peter.
The Pew Ends
The pew ends were designed by Mgsr. Wassler and hand-carved by Mr. Ludwig Kienenger, a Bavarian woodcarver near Dallas, Texas. Designed in 1966 and 1967, they depict a historical record of the families of Saint Peter Church. Msgr. Wassler used family crests in the designs and, where none existed, he created them using ancestral occupations and family histories. Pew ends for one hundred families, eleven priests, and three bishops were designed and executed, no two pew ends being alike. The pew ends were made of red gum and were milled by Bill’s Mill Works of the local area.
The Stations of the Cross
The stations, depicting fourteen stations in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus, are linden wood hand carved by Joseph Stempfel of Colmar, France. These carvings were the last projects in the restoration project of the parish.
The Pipe Organ
The organ, a fifteen rank electropneumatic instrument was built in German Baroque style. The components were purchased in southern Germany in 1966, and the organ was built by Otto Hoffman, an American organ architect. There are two other Hoffman organs in this area of the country, one at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Lafayette and another at Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville.
The Church Bells
The large bell in the belfry was obtained in 1893. It was named “Francis-Fabien-Pierre”: Francis for Archbishop Francis Janssens of New Orleans [the Diocese of Lafayette had not yet been erected]; Fabien for Rev. Father Fabien Laforet who was then the pastor of Saint Peter, and Pierre for Mr. Pierre Cormier [donor of the Church property]. The H. Struckstede Bell Foundry, Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, cast the bell on May 18, 1893. The church also has a set of four electronic bells which came from Versailles, France. The tones of the bells were blended to that of the large bell. In 1994, the electronic bell system was struck by lightening on two occasions and an electronic bell system by Mass-Rowe was installed in early 1995. This system uses the existing true bronze bells and the technology of compact disc digital recordings to ring on the hour, the Angelus, times for Holy Mass, and traditional hymns.
The Baptismal Chapel
The large stained glass window depicts The Annunciation. The Baptismal font in this chapel is of French marble and copper bas-relief. Above the front hangs a wooden canopy, called a baldocinno, which was originally over the altar in the chapel of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau. In 1996, during the restoration of the Baptismal Chapel, it was taken down, restored, and once more securely hung over the font. The antique Crucifix on the Chapel wall was added at this time. The antique cross, of hand carved walnut from Holland, was acquired from a Lafayette antique dealer in 1996. The corpus, which was originally set on a plain wooden cross, was purchased from the Saint Mary Orphanage when it closed in 1972. Combining these antiques provides a beautiful centerpiece for the Chapel wall.
Our Perpetual Adoration Chapel is one of the oldest Chapels in the United States. It was established on August 1, 1984. We have more than 350 adorers. Many miracles and vocations have been attributed to our faithful adorers. You can come and adore Our Lord, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week!