First new church in Lafayette in 22 years takes shape

The Daily Advertiser • April 22, 2017

If you’ve seen it, you’re probably one of many Lafayette residents who’ve marveled at the sheer size and scope of the newly built St. Pius X Catholic Church on Kaliste Saloom Road. From the outside, it looks nearly finished. And, although it is not scheduled to be complete and ready for worship until the fall of 2017, it has so far been on budget and on time.

“It’s amazing actually,” project manager Stuart Billeaud said. “Even with the floods there were not many delays. Amazingly, it didn’t affect the building time.”

A capital campaign titled “Building the Faith in Acadiana: Body and Soul, Bricks and Mortar,” began in 2008 to replace the old structure that did not meet the needs of the growing parish. Altogether, parishioners raised more than $6 million towards the $21 million project.

“This is their dream,” said the Rev. Steven LeBlanc, pastor at St. Pius X. “The people wanted a traditional church. The people of St. Pius have clearly outgrown their present church and they will now have space to be able to sit and not be overcrowded in pews and other parts of the church.”

LeBlanc said the project was simplified from the original plan due to costs and lack of funds. One example: the huge windows on the sides of the church. The original proposal called for stained glass but, as of now, they are made of regular glass.

“We had to take stained glass windows out of the project to reduce costs,” LeBlanc explained. “However, donors are surfacing to at least have some stained glass. More decorative painting elements had to be eliminated. For example, the ceiling will have no artwork. Flooring surfaces had to be simplified. Instead of porcelain tile throughout, it will only be down the aisles.”

Along with the new, there is also a sense of the old. In fact, history is, in a way, repeating itself.

The lead builder is JB Mouton, a construction firm that has been around for more than 100 years. JB Mouton built Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church some 58 years ago, teaming up with another well-known local firm, Stinson Roofing. Billeaud, a member of the JB Mouton family, said the two companies are teaming up once again for this new endeavor.

“It’s neat because there has not been a new (Catholic) church built in Lafayette in 22 years,” Billeaud added. “My grandfather thought he wanted to be a priest. Instead, he got married and had 17 kids and built a lot of churches.”

David Stinson is the son of the late J.O. Stinson. Stinson now owns Stinson Fencing. The local businessman is also a member of St. Pius Parish. He donated his services and the decorative wrought iron-like fencing that surrounds some of the church’s outside areas.

“It’s our way of giving back,” Stinson said. “It’s what we want to do to help the parish. I think this new church will bring a lot of our parishioners back.”

Here is a list of 10 things we found out about the new St. Pius X church that may surprise you:

  1. The building will have 33,000 square feet of covered space.  
  2. The cost of the church building is $14.8 million. The total cost of the project, with land purchase and other items, is $21 million.
  3. Ceilings inside the building rise as high as 42 feet.
  4. This is the first new Catholic church to be built in Lafayette in 22 years.
  5. The new church will seat 900 people; the existing church seats 500.
  6. Two families, the Mouton and Stinson clans, are teaming up to build the church. They last worked together to build Our Lady of Fatima 58 years ago.
  7. The Stinson Fencing company and family donated the fencing surrounding the church.
  8. The church was built on a lot that used to hold the Acadiana Bottling company. The parish bought the lot for $1.8 million.
  9. By the time it is complete, the project will have taken only 18 months from start to finish.
  10. A giant cross bearing the form of Jesus will be suspended from the ceiling over the altar.