St. Edmund’s Chapel in Branch is named for the English St. Edmund of Canterbury. St. Edmund was born in Abington about 1180. He acquired a reputation for austerity and holiness early in life. Like St. Leo IV, a life of prayer preceded his call to leadership in the Church. In 1223, he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury where he began a struggle for the rights of the Church against royal abuses. He would eventually retire to France and engage in devotional writing. He died in 1240 and was canonized in 1247. His feast is celebrated on November 16th.
Msgr. Clay Bienvenue, pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Church Point began offering Holy Mass at the Branch mission in 1936. Mass was celebrated once a month in the home of Mrs. Philogene Thibodeaux, who served as the first catechism teacher for the mission.
The John Meleck and Rufus Fruge families donated land for a chapel in 1942. In April of 1948, St. Edmund’s Chapel was formally dedicated. The first structure was a converted dance hall and ballroom. The Catholic Extension Society gave $2,000 as well as many furnishings for the chapel.
1952 saw the pastoral care of Branch shift from the pastor of Church Point to the pastor of Roberts Cove. Under the direction of Fr. Stanley Begnaud, the current St. Edmund’s Chapel and Hall were built. Bishop Gerard Frey formally dedicated the new structure for the justly proud people of Branch.
The last thirty years have witnessed continued improvements to the physical plant. Some of these include underground drainage, a bell system, a blacktopped parking lot, as well new carpeting throughout the chapel. 2008 saw the addition of statuary in the sanctuary as well as new tile flooring.
The congregation remains remarkably spiritual and service-minded. The Ladies Altar Society serves the liturgical needs of the chapel. Many lay volunteers serve as catechism teachers, lectors, homebound visitors, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. In the mid-1990s a celebration of St. Edmund’s feast day began to promote our sense unity in faith. St.Edmund’s Day consists of benefit sales of gumbo, hamburgers, and sweets. Those who attend are entertained by a raffle, an auction, as well as French music.
St. Edmund’s Chapel is not just “a place for Mass”. It remains the heart of the Branch community.
|Msgr. Clay Bienvenue: 1936-1952||Fr. Gerard Wolbers: 1952-1955|
|Fr. Alois Reznicek: 1955-1976||Fr. Stanley Begnaud: 1976-1982|
|Bishop Glen Provost: 1982-1985||Fr. Keith Vincent: 1985-1987|
|Fr. Daniel Picard: 1987-1992||Fr. Francis Bourgeois: 1992-2008|
|Fr. Kevin Bordelon: 2008-2011||Fr. Paul Broussard: 2011-|