The Story of the Shrine of
Our Lady, Queen Of Peace

Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association

In 1981, the Rev. Mario S. Termini, was appointed Pastor of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Bayou Pigeon by Bishop Stanley Ott, Bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Rev. Mario S. Termini

He was a contractor in the Baton Rouge area, holding a license with the State Licensing Board for Contractors since 1946. He was married, was a father and a grandfather. Through a series of events after his wife's death, God led him through a journey of faith to become a priest.

This journey happened quite by faith. Father Termini heard about an old nun in New Orleans who was involved with healing sick people. That was on a Saturday night, and the next Friday night Father went to New Orleans and got her phone number. Every Thursday for a year, he and the nun went to a prayer meeting of miracles and healings at St. Edwards the Confessor Church in Metairie, parishioners would attend from all over Louisiana. Father Termini personally witnessed two healings, both were deaf and both now can hear. As a result of these experiences and other things, he felt the call to enter the seminary. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Joseph Sullivan on September 8, the Blessed Mother's birthday. He was 61 years old. After ordination, he continued to be involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Since the Charismatic movement was responsible for strengthening his faith, even though he was very busy administering in his new church parish in Bayou Pigeon, he wanted to continue his Charismatic Ministry. Father Termini was asked to lead the charismatic movement in the Diocese of Baton Rouge In 1987, Father was fascinated by what was going on in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. Medjugorje ("Between the Hills") is a village in the southern part of Herzegovina in the present-day state of Bosnia. The small parish of about 4,000 has become famous due to a series of reported visions of the Virgin Mary that began in 1981 and still continue today. Although the apparitions had not been validated by the Catholic Church, the Shrine of the Queen of Peace at Medjugorje was attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year. Being intense in his believe in faith healings and Charismatic Ministry, Father Termini felt a calling to make a pilgrimage there. Father prayed to our Lord Jesus to please make it possible for him to go. Soon after, two separate travel agencies called and offered him a free trip to go along as their spiritual advisor on trips they were sponsoring.

Upon his return to his parish, Father Termini came to believe that the Blessed mother, was calling on him to build a shrine in her honor. He felt he had been given a mission, ie., to build a Shrine to Mary, Our Lady, Queen of Peace.

He approached the parish council at his church parishes of Bayou Pigeon and Bayou Sorrel, and they agreed to pursue a chapel. They decided that the Shrine could be built in a space behind the existing St. Joan of Arc Church. This space once served as the Rectory, then it was the A/C Equipment and Storage room. By Christmas, 1989, after much prayer and meditation all the construction drawings were completed. Father Termini presented the project to the Diocese of Baton Rouge for approval in December 1989. He successfully answered all the questions by the committee.

During the next year Father supervised the construction with the contractors, architect and the numerous volunteers and faithful parishioners. Each obstacle along the way presented additional opportunities for Father Termini and his parishioners to pray and meditate. By December 14, 1990, the Shrine was completed and a living rosary service was held in the newly constructed shrine. On December 15, 1990, the Shrine of our Lady Queen of Peace was dedicated by a mass said by Bishop Stanley Ott, Bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

Father Termini retired in 1993, For seven more years, the Shrine of our Lady, Queen of Peace of Bayou Pigeon, Louisiana, held a special place in the hearts and souls of thousands of Catholics and visitors from all over the country. Catholics came by the bus loads to witness and pray at the Chapel. More testimony to the devotion Cajun folks feel to the Blessed mother.

Each year that Father Termini was Pastor he held an annual prayer meetings as a celebration marking the anniversary of the dedication of Our Lady Queen of Peace shrine. For a small, nondescript church right smack on the Atchafalaya Swamp, it was one of very popular and best attended houses of worship in the surrounding area.

The Shrine of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, at Bayou Pigeon lasted 10 years. It was demolished in the year 2000 to make way for a new church. Parts of the Shrine were incorporated into the new church and the spirit of the shrine, The statue of Mary became part of the new church.

Closing of St. Joan of Arc Church parish

The Diocese of Baton Rouge announced, Oct. 1, 2017 that St. Joan of Arc Parish (and its mission church St. Catherine Laboure) at Bayou Pigeon and Bayou Sorrell would cease functioning as a parish in the diocese as of November 24, 2017.

History of the Catholic Church at Bayou Pigeon

The Bayou Pigeon Church, Our Lady of the Miraculous Lady was completed in 1952 as mission Chapel. The first pastor was appointed in 1967 and the named changed to St. Joan of Arc parish.

The original chapel at St. Joan was remodeled in the 1980s. In 1999 the church was razed and a new church dedicated June 1, 2003. In 2009 St. Joan of Arc was clustered with Our Lady of Prompt Succor in White Castle as a way to save the church. .

“The reasons cited for closing was a significant decrease in the number of parish families, a continual and extreme decrease in parish income, the lack of funding necessary for the parish to meet its regular operating expenses and a significant decline in Mass attendance and celebration of the sacraments. Also the shortage of priest and parish staff or resources to maintain the properties.

Several ideas for adapting the structures to an alternative use was explored between the Catholic Diocese, Iberville parish government and the landowner, of the property of which the complex was located. The structures belonged to the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge but the property was owned by A. Wilbert’s & Son LLC. Negotiations failed between the parties failed to reach an agreement on an adaptive use.

Wilbert’s, LLC, did not have a use for or an interest in owning these buildings and did not want the liability associated with owning unoccupied buildings. The Original Lease agreement called for the property to be returned to original condition no longer than two years after the Church Parish was closed regardless of reasons. It was beginning to look like entire complex would be have brought back to green fields by the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge

On May 3, 2018, “The Bayou Pigeon, Spirit of the Atchafalaya” social media web page was contacted through that site by a representative of A. Wilbert's LLC, the Landowner (lessee) holding the Lease agreement on the property. This contact was a final effort to determine if there was anyone from the Bayou Pigeon community interested in working to save this complex from demolition.

The community of Bayou Pigeon found itself in an age where we were not only losing our local church, but community cohesiveness as well, the church complex was the things that kept our Cajun community together, it was the face of the community. The closing of the St. Joan of Arc Parish church and complex would not only a have significant economic effect on the future of this unincorporated community but could be the death knell on the Cajun Culture and folklife of the community.

Thus, a group of concerned Bayou pigeon Natives came together, held a series of organizational meetings, and filed for 501c3 nonprofit organization, ie., The Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association. After almost two years of effort, on Nov. 5 2019, the buildings were deeded to the Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association by the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge. A new 10-year lease on the property was stuck with landowner for $1.

The Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association began to move forward with initiatives to remodel the 5200 sq. ft church building into a Heritage Hall and community event venue. Inside the former church was small room that acted as a chapel for small services. The BPHA Board of Directors wanted to save some aspect of the Catholic church that served the community for 75 years. Spiritual support would more crucial than ever in making the new heritage association successful and sustainable. We wanted the community and our children to know ‘God still lives here’ in our community.

It was only natural that we looked to the statue of Mary, Our Lady Queen of Peace, which was left to the people of Bayou Pigeon by Fr. Al Davidson, who was overseeing the transfer of the Facilities the BPHA. No better way to continue the spiritual aspect of our Catholic religion at Bayou Pigeon. The Blessed Virgin is sacred to the Cajun people of Bayou pigeon.

We invite all to come see the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel Room.

The primary purpose of our Chapel Room is to praise and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and to secure her patronage by recitation of the Rosary for the mutual spiritual benefit of our requested special intentions and to help the faithful grow in their love of the Lord, the Blessed Mother, and peace in this world.

Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association

Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association

All donations made to the Rosary Society shrine room specifically will be used only for the Shrine room activities and improvements.

In the spirit of Father Mario Termini,
The BPHA Board of Directors

Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Rosary Society

To request a
special intention rosary
and join the
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Rosary Society,
please fill out the form below
(stipend $5 per rosary):

Rosary Society Member Name
Enrolled by

Our Lady Queen of Peace
Rosary Society

in any amount