St. Hubert’s Catholic Church sees revival with restoration of rectory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Editor and Publisher

GARYVILLE – Lynn Bourgeois and Therese Ocmond know what St. Hubert’s Catholic Church has meant to their families for generations past.

&#8220The church is the reason our families stayed together, and the reason we raised our kids right, and now that our kids are doing the same with their children,” they both agreed.

A lifelong resident of Garyville, Bourgeois, now 72, is one of the mainstays around St. Hubert’s Church these days as he entered retirement, and then began helping at the church in much of his spare time.

Ocmond, also someone who has lived her entire life in the Garyville community, is now 79 and finds herself spending many hours helping at St. Hubert’s Church, just as she has done all her life.

Together, they were among hundreds who turned out on Saturday for the 100 year celebration of St. Hubert’s Church, and in particular, the unveiling of the St. Hubert’s Rectory building, which has been almost completely restored by area preservationist Carl Monica.

The St. Hubert’s Rectory, now a few hundred yards down the street from where the church is, was moved to its present location in recent years after it was purchased by Louise Monica Hubert and her husband Ridley.

Carl Monica acquired the rectory through his family member and began to restore the building.

Monica, who has spearheaded restoration work on many important buildings in the Garyville area, said that St. Hubert’s is one of the longtime important buildings in the community.

&#8220The community was always focused around the church, so to keep the rectory intact is important to my family, to the community and to the church,” he said. &#8220It was a natural to want to fix it, to preserve the history and heritage of the area.”

The rectory was the only building left standing from the church after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The original church was destroyed, including most of the items in it.

However one special item which can now be found in the restored rectory is a statue of Mother Cabrini, which was broken at her waist, but still left intact with her face, and in particular her eyes.

&#8220Everyone always said the statue had eyes that were looking at you from anywhere you stood in the room,” volunteer Odile Ryan said.

Bourgeois and Ocmond remember their years growing up in the church, and how much St. Hubert’s has been an important part of their family.

&#8220When we were kids, we were at church for devotion on Wednesday, and the Way of the Cross on Friday, and of course Sunday mass,” Bourgeois said. &#8220I had six brothers and two sisters and my mom and dad made sure we never missed church. But I’m glad since I raised my kids in the church the same, and it has helped them all to be good.”

Bourgeois said he began working at the church when he retired at age 62, when he passed by the church one day and saw the priest working in the flower bed.

&#8220I remember thinking, ‘man, the priest shouldn’t have to do that.’ So I offered to help and have been helping here ever since,” he added. &#8220I just love helping the people and the parish here.”

Ocmond was one of 10 children, and also had parents who made sure they never missed church.

&#8220I brought my kids up the same way,” she said. &#8220Personally, I always enjoyed going to church. It made you feel good, like you had a reason to be living.”

She taught religion at the church for 44 years, and always helped cleaning, cooking, keeping the books, and any other way she could help contribute for St. Hubert’s.

&#8220The church is growing again, and the new priest is trying to get the kids involved. Children haven’t been coming in years past, but that’s because parents quit coming. We need to get the kids back in the church,” she said.

As for Monica, he spent over $100,000 to restore the large building, which has taken a little over two years to finish.

Some of the changes were that the addition of an office on the front porch and rear restroom were taken off, and a window that was made into a door was brought back to a window, and the door put back in its original place. A French door was also put back in its original place.

The original walls were made of famous Garyville &#8220red cypress,” with a fireplace reconstructed in the &#8220red cypress.” New arches were cut to open up the ballroom area and two decorative posts and gingerbread were added to enhance the ballroom. The posts and gingerbread came from an old historic home on West 5th Street in LaPlace, last owned by the Boucvalt family.

An original stained glass window, saved from St. Hubert’s original church, has been put into place in the rectory building.

Much community help was also donated to assist in the renovation, with Bobby Millet and his helper Allen Rome initially doing much of the porch and exterior work. The majority of finishing work was done by Barry Cavalier and Hosie Johnson.

Sponsors for the Saturday unveiling event were Samuel Accardo Jr., of Accardo Law Firm; Frank Puglia of Diageo Chateau and Estates Wines; Matherne’s Supermarket and Ernie and Tony Matherne; Greg Zeringue and Derald Bourgeois of Englade Boudreaux Insurance; Stephen Flynn of Riverlands Surveying; Burt and Joyce Cashio; and Aaron P. Cross and Carl Monica of APC Realty.

Special thanks was given to Veronica and John Sylvest for their generosity in helping the preservation of the Rectory possible.