Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church celebrates 50th anniversary

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Mary Ann Van Osdell, legislative assistant to Sen. Barrow Peacock, Monsignor Earl Provenza, Father Nicholas Onyach and Deacon Michael Straub. (Courtesy photo)

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Special to the Press-Tribune

Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church celebrated its 50 anniversary with a Mass and reception on May 19.

The present leadership lies in the hands of its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Nicholas Onyach, and Deacon Michael Straub. The first pastor to serve was Father Carson LaCaze, while Monsignor Earl Provenza served from 1999 until 2006, Father Joseph Ampatt from 2006 until 2018, and Onyach as the current pastor.

The notion of Mary, Queen of Peace began with the faith of the Thomas Caplis family that contributed to the development of the farming community of Caplis in south Bossier Parish. Son Johnny Caplis and his wife, Beatrice, were devout Catholics with a dream of establishing a church.

Johnny convinced his mother, Maggie, to donate a parcel of land for the site. Johnny contacted his friend Jess Sherwin, a contractor in Haughton, to build the church. When completed, the first service performed in the new chapel was the wedding of a nephew, Joseph Edmund Caplis Jr. to Margaret Jeanne Loughran.

The chapel of Mary, Queen of Peace was dedicated on May 13, 1969 by Bishop Charles P. Greco of the Diocese of Alexandria as a mission of Christ the King Catholic Church in Bossier City.

Beatrice Caplis tended to the upkeep of the church until her death in 1979. In her will, a trust fund was set aside to maintain the chapel.

Thirty years later, in March 1999, Bishop William B. Friend of the Diocese of Shreveport, established the parish of Mary, Queen of Peace with St. George Catholic Church in Coushatta as its mission. The congregation continued to grow and a larger church building was dedicated on December 3, 2005 by Friend.

Mary, Queen of Peace serves a devout church population of more than 330 families and the chapel is now referred to as the John Anthony Caplis Center.

Sen. Barrow Peacock honored the occasion with a resolution commending the good works and spiritual guidance provided by Mary, Queen of Peace  to the community it serves. His legislative assistant presented it at the 10 a.m. Mass.