St. Theodore Parish is an example of the child that replaces the parent.
In the early days of Calcasieu Parish, the Moss Bluff area was sparsly settled, and few Catholics lived in the area. In the late 19th century, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholi Theriot settled in the area and reared a large family. A few years later, Mr. & Mrs. Alcikbide Champagne settled in the Moss Bluff area. In those days, Immaculate Conception Parish in Lake Charles was the only church in the area, and Moss Bluff Catholics made the Sunday journey to the church in horse and buggy.
By the end of World War II, the population in Moss Bluff began to grow, and Mrs. Nettie Guidry, a faithful parishioner, donated five acres on Telephone Road to Immaculate Conception Parish for a future mission chapel. The same year, the parish purchased an additional five acres from Mrs. Guidry.
Catechism classes were first offered in private homes in the Moss Bluff area, with priests from Immaculate Conception Parish coming to teach classes. The Rev. Clifford Gaudin, assigned to Immaculate Conception, was one of the first teachers. Others were the Rev. Wayne Richard, the Rev. Theodore Hassink and the Rev. Curtis Vidrine. These priests were also assigned to care for St. Hubert Mission in North Lake Charles (Goosport), which was established in 1940.
In 1952, St. Hubert Mission became a canonical Parish, and its territory included the Moss Bluff area. The Rev. Curtis Vidrine was the first pastor, and thereafter, catechism classes were taught in St. Hubert Church on Martha Street.
Father Vidrine was succeeded in 1960 as pastor by the Rev. Henry van Boxel, who undertook to build a mission chapel in Moss Bluff.
Father van Boxel arranged for the purchase of five acres of land on Champagne Circle at a cost of $10,000, because it was felt that the land on Telephone Road was not located in the proximity of the area schools. Five acres on Telephone Road were exchanged for four acres adjacent to the Champagne Circle property, making a total of nine acres.
In 1967, the Rev. Theodore Hassink became pastor at St. Hubert Parish and one of his projects was the building of a mission chapel in Moss Bluff.
John Gabriel of Lake Charles was engaged as an architect, and a multi-purpose building was erected. That multipurpose building is now the Enricment Center. The official dedication of St. Theodore Chapel was held in 1968, with the Most Rev. Maurice Schexnayder, Bishop of Lafayette, as the dedicating prelate.
Instead of pews, chairs were used in the new chapel, and tables were stored under the stage, which also served as an altar.
As population shifts continued in Lake Charles, the congregation of St. Hubert Parish diminished, and in 1974, the parish was suppressed, and its territory was taken over by Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
On July 1, 1974, St. Theodore Mission became a canonical parish, and Father Hassink moved from St. Hubert to become the first pastor, serving until 1978. A mobile home was rented and situated beside the church to provide a rectory for Father Hassink, and plans were immediately drafted to build a rectory, which was built with volunteer labor under the direction of the Rev. Paul Thompson as architect.
In 1978, the Rev. Joseph A. Bourque succeeded Father Hassink as pastor, and a permanent deacon, Rev. Mr. Jack Reynolds, was assigned to the parish. Existing ministries were continued and new ones established. The parish's "Young Evangelizing for Christ" program was nationally recognized as one of the more effective youth programs in the nation.
In September of 1978, Father Bourque asked his sister, Mrs. Lovica Hebert, to organize a nursery. The nursery opened on January 2, 1979, with Mrs. Hebert in charge.
Father Bourque also sought to establish a Catholic School. Eight classrooms were added to the Church, to be used as the school developed. Kindergarten classes began in August, 1981, and each fall thereafter, one grade was added, through the fifth grade. In March of 1982, a parent-teacher group was organized. In 1980, another permanent deacon, Rev. Mr. Roy Malancon, was assigned to the parish. He continued as pastoral associate until his retirement in 1987.
Because of the growth of the area, a new church became necessary. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on March 24, 1981, and the $700,000 structure was dedicated by the Most Rev. Jude Speyrer, Bishop of Lake Charles, on February 11, 1982. Bishop Speyrer also dedicated a new building for Holy Family Catholic School in 1985.
The Rev. Milton P. Miller became the third pastor of St. Theodore Parish in 1985. From
1988-1989, Rev. Herbert May assisted in parish duties as priest in residence. Father James Doyle came to the parish on April 1, 1989 as a priest is residence to help Father Miller in the growing parish. He is officially assigned to ministry in the Diocesan Office of Tribunal. Father James Doyle continued as priest in residence until his passing in 2012.
Continued growth of the Moss Bluff area, increased the size of the congregation and the school. More and more lay people began to take active roles in ministries being organized.
Msgr. Louis Melancon became the fourth pastor of St. Theodore Parish on July 1, 1991, succeeding Father Miller. He was succeeded by Monsignor Charles J. Dubois as fifth pastor on July 1, 1997. Also in July 1997, Father T.L. Herlong, a Jesuit priest, came to the parish as a priest in residence. A new permanent deacon, Rev. Mr. Glenn Harmon, was ordained and assigned to St. Theodore as a permanent deacon on December 2, 2001. In October, of 2002, Father Charles McMillin joined the staff of St. Theodore for one year. Father Don Piraro, past director of St. Charles Retreat Center, and Fr. Whitney Miller, current director, have also celebrated Mass at St. Theodore for years.
In 1999, St. Theodore Parish assumed the administration of St. Pius X mission, in Ragley, Louisiana. St. Pius X covers the southeast section of Beauregard Civil Parish, with a registered number of 300 families and growing.
St. Theodore, in 1999, constructed a new Activity Center and a Learning Center, which were dedicated in 2000. These two buildings have added at least 15,000 square feet of much needed, functional space for parish activities. What began as sixteen kindergarten children in 1981, is now a Catholic School with classes from Mothers Day Out (3 year olds) through the 8th grade serving nearly 150 students.
In 2014, after 17 years as pastor of St. Theodore and 50 years of priesthood, Msgr. Dubois retired. Fr. John Huckaby was named sixth pastor of St. Theodore at that time. Deacon Leo Hebert was assigned to St. Theodore in August 2014, and Fr. Joby Mathew, HGN, was named parochial vicar in September. Also in 2014, St. Pius X was canonically erected as its own parish with Fr. Tim Goodly being named its founding pastor.
Parishioners of St. Theodore serve in nearly 50 ministries throughout the parish, and our "Lifeteen" youth group is among the nation's leading organizations dedicated to the spiritual growth and develpoment of teens and young adults.
St. Theodore Catholic Church is one of the fastest-growing parishes in the diocese. In 1980, when the diocese was established, the official figures showed a total of slightly more than 800 families residing in the parish'e geographic area. The latest figures show that the parish has grown to include more than 1,700 families, making it one of the three largest parishes in the Diocese of Lake Charles.