A creole louisiana landmark
Historic St. Augustine Church, nestled on the banks of Louisiana’s Cane River Lake, stands as a testament to the resilience and faith of the region’s Creole community. The Catholic church, the first of its kind in the state to be built by a free person of color, continues to serve its racially mixed congregants faithfully, just as it did nearly 200 years ago.
the bell of st. augustine
The church bell, a prominent voice of this enduring institution, is remembered fondly by lifelong parishioner Tommy Roque. He explains that the bell-ringer “would intone the bell and the certain way he would pull that rope, and that signified there was a funeral.” He recalled that the bell ringing for Mass sounded different. Roque’s lineage, like the bells, is intertwined with St. Augustine Church. Generations of his family, from his great ancestors to himself, have been part of its congregation.
founding a creole church
In 1803, Nicolas Augustin Metoyer, a wealthy free man of color, began Catholic worship services inside his plantation home. He later constructed a mission church in 1829. Several remnants of that first chapel – the church bell, a wooden crucifix, and a large painting of St. Augustine, still exist in the church today. Metoyer’s legacy continues in the form of the church’s role as a cornerstone for the Creole community.
st. augustine church featured on tv
a faithful community
Rev. Dr. Mark Guidry, a church Deacon and direct descendant of Augustin Metoyer, believes, “The church is what sustained the community and helped it to survive. And that’s why it’s still here today.” Reflecting on the term ‘Creole,’ which some perceive in racial terms, Guidry notes, “Here, for the most part, we don’t. Creole is a culture, it’s a way of life. It’s a spectrum.”
st. augustine – a symbol of unity
The current church building, built in 1916 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, remains the heart of this rural community. Isle Brevell is just 10 miles south of Natchitoches, Louisiana’s oldest city. St. Augustine continues to resonate with its founder’s vision of serving a diverse Creole community. As Guidry asserts, “I think we have a message, perhaps for America, that people can be family and get along and be a part of a parish family in spite of color lines.”
St. Augustine Catholic Church is located at 2262 LA Hwy-484, Natchez, LA.