A church in Iberville parish is closing its doors after 50 years of service, and it’s just one of many in the diocese of Baton Rouge.

The reality is still setting in for some parishioners in the small community of Bayou Pigeon.

“It’s like I don’t believe it’s true because...it’s like it was my second home,” Alice Dutsch said 

Dutsch has done just about everything at St. Joan of Arc in her 25 years as a volunteer.

“…give communion to the parish, to people who couldn’t come to church. i have read the readings and the announcements,” Dutsch said. “I have cleaned the church." 

But after Saturday’s mass on Nov. 18, this church, built just 14 years ago, will be no more.

“It’s just gonna go to pieces…” Dutsch said.

This parish is just one of the 22 parishes that have been consolidated down to 10; all a part of the diocese’s plan.

“We’re kind of looking like at a map, or almost like a board game...number of Catholics...and number of priests...and how to specifically decide...how do you serve all these people?” Chairman of Diocesan Pastoral Planning Task Force, Father Trey Nelson said. 

The special task force, appointed by bishop Robert Muench, is tasked with helping the church deal with a shortage or priest, and a shifting population. 

“The parish has dwindled; in attendance and in support,” Father Al Davidson said.

And specifically, at St. Joan of arc, finances have dwindled.

“The faithful have contributed from their means...and for them they see it as home,” Davidson said.

Dutsch says she’ll continue to go to mass each weekend at another church, but nothing will replace St. Joan of Arc.

“Nothing will be the same...it’s like we were family,” Dutsch said.

Both St. Joan of Arc and St. Catherine Laboure will be consolidated into St. Joseph the Worker parish in Assumption Parish.

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