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St. Peter's Catholic Church

108 E. St. Peter St.~ New Iberia LA 70560 ~ (337) 369-3816

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St. Peter's Cemetery - A Historic Treasure Not to be Forgotten

Not far from the shadow cast by St. Peter's Catholic Church lies a valued treasure. Although ravaged by time, this treasure's value and importance has not, nor will ever be diminished. St. Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery is truly a treasure that all of us should respect. It is the final resting place of our ancestry. Whether you think you have family buried there or not, the cemetery is an important part of our Christian life. We Catholics observe All Saints/Souls Day by honoring our deceased during the month of November. Our Christian belief says we should not only respect the dead, but we should also care for and protect the holy ground where their earthly remains lay.

In 1838, St. Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery was chartered as part of the civil parish of St. Martinville. It was established to fulfill the request of St. Peter's Church parishioners for a sacred place where our deceased could be placed in a dedicated location. Prior to that, deceased were simply buried wherever space was available. As the community grew, so did the cemetery.

The 4.3 acres of St. Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery is now filled to capacity with over 5,000 grave sites containing more than 7,000 loved ones who have passed away. As time passed, generations became busy with their own lives and forgot their ancestors and their responsibility to care for their burial place3s. Nevertheless, our cemetery endures, quietly accommodating those who wish to mourn at the foot of a grave site of a loved one.

Why should we be interested in restoring and preserving something almost 200 years old? What defines us as responsible caring Catholic individuals? Those are good questions. If we lose respect for our dead, eventually we may lose respect for ourselves and our fellow man. Although we may not know a single person buried at St. Peter's Cemetery, we will join them on our final day.

St. Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery is part of our church, even though it is not located on the grounds of the church itself. The persons buried there deserve dignity and should never be neglected or forgotten. They need our prayers and our help!

FAQ Concerning Cemeteries

Many questions have been asked over the past years about the cemetery and its ownership, governance, and maintenance. Below are several of the most frequently asked questions. We invite you to contact the parish office should you have questions about the cemetery or need further clarification on matters concerning the cemetery. Please be reminded that next weekend’s second collection is taken for the St. Peter Cemetery Endowment Fund.

• Who owns the cemetery and what rules or laws govern the cemetery?

St. Peter’s Cemetery is owned by St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s Cemetery is governed by the Laws of the Church – Canon Law – the Laws of the State of Louisiana Cemetery Board, and the Civil Law of the State of Louisiana. The St. Peter Cemetery has a cemetery handbook which outlines the laws of the cemetery that are in accordance with Canon Law, Laws of the State of Louisiana Cemetery Board, and the Civil Law of the State of Louisiana. The parish also has a Cemetery Board which meets to discuss topics and provide advice on the concern of the cemetery’s operation and other aspects.

• Why are there dues and fees associated with the cemetery?

The dues and fees associated with the cemetery are ways in which funding may be obtained in order to provide the needed maintenance and upkeep for the cemetery. The cemetery stands alone and separate from the parish’s operational budget.

• What is the difference between the annual fee and the perpetual due?

The annual dues are assessed yearly based upon the size of the plot, or burial space or spaces, owned by the particular family. The perpetual dues are a one-time due amount paid. These funds are directly deposited into the cemetery endowment fund for future upkeep. The endowment draws interest yearly and is set aside for major expenses such as: recovery from natural disasters, property acquisitions, etc.

• Who is responsible for the upkeep of the tombs and monuments?

The responsibility of the upkeep of the tomb and monument is that of the plot owner. The church does not maintain the individual tomb or monument. If one is unable to upkeep the tomb or monument, we do maintain a list of professionals who are able to assist. All one need do is contact the cemetery office. The cemetery does not undertake upkeep and maintenance of tombs and monuments. This is financially prohibitive. Only in extreme circumstances will the cemetery authority intervene in the upkeep of tombs and monuments.

• When I purchase a plot in the cemetery, do I own the property?

When one purchases a plot in the cemetery, they are purchasing the Right of Interment only which does allow for the individual to build a suitable tomb or monument. The property remains in the possession of the St. Peter’s Cemetery. Only the Right of Interment is purchased at the time of the plot and that Right remains with the purchaser and those legally entitled to that right as determined by the purchaser. Any transfers of title or right must be done according to the State Law of Louisiana and copies provided to the cemetery authority.

• Who makes the decision whether a tomb or monument is suitable for burial?

The St. Peter Cemetery authority has the right to evaluate all structures in the cemetery and determine if they are suitable for burial. When the structures are evaluated the factors of structural strength, capacity, and overall strength of the monument are taken into consideration. These elements are factored in to ensure that the tomb or monument will be able to house those remains and that it will not cause damage to the structure once it is opened. Furthermore, these factors are reviewed to provide the safest environment for those who visit the cemetery and also to ensure that the surrounding structures would not be damaged by any failure of the current structure.

• If I decide that I no longer need the burial plot that I have purchased can I sell that plot?

In the event that circumstance change, you have the right to sell the plot that you have purchases. Louisiana State Law does stipulate that sellers should not engage in speculative purchasing and re-selling of tombs. However, the final price is determined by the seller and the party purchasing the plot, tomb, monument, etc. The Cemetery authority does not assign value or stipulate pricing on existing tombs nor does it provide appraisal value.

St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery is 178 Years Old!

Our cemetery is part of St. Peters and maintaining it is our responsibility. Sadly, our cemetery is in need of much repair and funds are limited. Maintenance cost over the years have risen to a point where basic overall cemetery care is no longer affordable. Without immediate action, our cemetery will be in decline. St. Peter’s Cemetery is now 177 years old and every part of it is being utilized to contain the remains of persons from our community, many of whom are our ancestors and relatives. Because of the age of the cemetery, many persons buried there are now long forgotten and the number of families paying annual dues, have greatly declined. Annual dues ($50.00) are used to cut grass, trash pickup and disposal, utilities, pesticides, herbicides, repairs and other costs to maintain common areas. What other service could you spend just fifty dollars on and have last a full year? You can sponsor a forgotten grave and help keep our cemetery beautiful. Sponsorship is easy to do, just send us a note or call the church office (369-3816) and tell us you want to help. We will send you an invoice. Your donation is tax deductible and there is no commitment required. You may also volunteer and join your friends who help on small projects in the cemetery. This is great for service hours and teaching family members about the history of New Iberia. For persons who have family members buried in our cemetery and who are currently paying annual dues, a perpetual dues contract can be arranged. Perpetual dues insure that the cemetery, in which your loved one is buried, will be maintained in perpetuity. Perpetual dues for a 5’ by 10’ plot is $1,000.00. The price for perpetual dues is reduced for payment of multiple locations. Your one-time payment will be invested and interest from the perpetual dues account is used to pay for upkeep. Returning to dust is inevitable for all things, however while we live, we have an opportunity to honor and respect those who have gone before us. Prayerfully consider doing your part now, because someday, someone will probably be asked to sponsor your final resting place. Please help us to continue to give dignity to St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery. Call today!

Tombs and Plots for sale

A Treasure Not To Be Forgotten

Not far from the shadow cast by St. Peter’s Catholic Church lies a valued treasure. Although ravaged by time, this treasure’s value and importance has not, nor will ever be diminished. St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery is truly a treasure that all of us should respect. It is the final resting place of our ancestry. Whether you think you have family buried there or not, the cemetery is an important part of our Christian life. We, Catholics observe All Saints/Souls Day by honoring our deceased during the month of November. Our Christian belief says we should not only respect the dead, but we should also care for and protect the holy ground where their earthly remains lay.

IN 1838, St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery was chartered as part of the civil parish of St. Martinville. It was established to fulfill the request of St. Peter’s Church parishioners for a sacred place where our deceased could be placed in a dedicated location. Prior to that, deceased were simply buried wherever space was available. As the community grew, so did the cemetery.

The 4.3 acres of St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery is now filled to capacity with over 5,000 grave sites containing more that 7,000 loved ones who have passed away. As time passed, generations became busy with their own lives and forgot their ancestors and their responsibility to care for their burial places. Nevertheless, our cemetery endures, quietly accommodating those who wish to mourn at the foot of a grave site of a loved one.

Why should we be interested in restoring and preserving something almost 200 years old? What defines us as responsible caring Catholic individuals? Those are good questions. If we lose respect for our dead, eventually we may lose respect for ourselves and our fellow man. Although we may not know a single person buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery, we will join them on our final day.

St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery is part of our church, even though it is not located on the grounds of the church itself. The persons buried there deserve dignity and should never be neglected or forgotten. They need our prayers and our help!

We can’t watch television today without seeing at least one advertisement for Ancestry.com. Who are we? Who were our ancestors? Who gave us what we are? All of these questions can be answered much easier now than ever before.

With the click of our mouse, we can trace our heritage, good or bad. We can discover relatives we did not know even existed. We can even learn where our family members rest.

Curiosity of family origins has led us to more and more interest in cemetery data, and leading to more visits to our cemeteries. Unfortunately, visitors are disappointed when they find a cemetery in disrepair with weeds growing, and trash in the aisles.

Over the past year, we have made a concentrated effort to clean up and restore dignity to our cemetery. It has not been easy. There have been volunteers to help, but much more is needed! Operating St. Peter’s Cemetery is a lot like operating a home. There is always something to do, and there are costs every month that must be paid, such as, labor to cut grass, to weed, to pick up and dispose of old flowers, and just plain general maintenance. All of these costs increase from year to year. Security lighting, water, insurance, chemicals for grass and pest control are also necessary expenses each and every month.

Cemetery disrepair

When you visit St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery you will notice that we have made progress and apart from regular maintenance, there are many things needed to be done. For example, the trees along the back desperately need to be removed, sidewalks need to be cleaned and repaired, the gates need cleaning and painting, faucets need to be replaced, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, we are unable to do those things at this time. But I think we will all agree that St. Peter’s Cemetery deserves dignity, to be a place of grace and beauty, not a place forgotten and neglected. After all, it belongs to each member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, whether or not you have a relative buried there.

Interesting People buried in St. Peter's Cemetery

Paulin Fontelieu

Paulin Fontelieu
Paulin Fontelieu died in a duel in Vermilion Parish on June 7, 1874. Unfortunately, his keen eye and "quick and ready hand" brought tragedy on at least one occasion, on June 7, 1874.

That night, the sheriff and his friend Paulin Fontelieu, also a crack pistol shot, were at a dance at the Veranda Hotel in Abbeville. They had apparently been drinking when they got into an argument, possibly over which of them was the better shot, and decided to settle it with their guns.

According to one account of the incident, "The duel occurred immediately in front of the hotel. Fontelieu shot first and in the darkness missed his man. He had a cigarette in his mouth as he drew upon it, the bright head of the cigarette furnished a perfect target. Shaw fired and Fontelieu fell dead."

Paul Alcibiade Veazey, Jr. 1872-1896

Paul Alcibiade Veazey
Paul Veazey's tomb states that he was murdered. At 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday evening, a terrible shooting took place opposite the Veazey saloon. No arrests were made.

Otto Schoenfeld

Otto Schoenfeld
First American to fence in the Olympics at the Paris games in 1900. He competed in the Master's Sabre Event. Otto Schoenfeld was also a great track and field man, wrestler and boxer. He was looked upon as the greatest all-around athlete in the U.S. Traveling to a competition in France, he met Clara Walet of New Iberia onboard ship. He was born in Leipzig, Germany.

Contact Information:

St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery
PO Box 12507
New Iberia, LA 70562

Cemetery Administrator:
Brad Ste. Marie
(337) 577-7985

Maintenance Supervisor:
Roland Theriot
(337) 519-7544

Cemetery Manager:
Ben LeBleu

St. Peter’s Church Office:
(337) 369-3816

Historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery

Historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery located on French Street between Washington and Pershing streets was dedicated to the New Iberia Catholic Community in 1838. Since then, over 7,000 persons have been put to rest there. 

Cemetery Endowment

Families of a deceased person(s) buried in our cemetery may now elect to make a one-time, in-full payment that will take the place of having to worry about making annual dues payments each year. All one-time, in-full payments are deposited in an endowment fund that will ensure that the general up-keep and associated cemetery cost will be met for all future years. Investing in our cemetery’s future will not only give you peace of mind and heart, but also save you from the worry of who will care for paying cemetery costs after you have passed on. Click here to find out more.

Restore and Preserve St. Peter’s Catholic Church Cemetery

If you were born in or around New Iberia, chances are you have a relative buried in St. Peter’s Church Cemetery located on the corner of French and Pershing streets. The Cemetery needs your help!

You can help restore and preserve this historic and sacred ground by sponsoring an unidentified burial site through the “Adopt a Grave” program and/or become a “Friend of the Cemetery” by donating your time, talent and treasure.

Adopting an unidentified burial site is $50 per year. Give this historic and sacred cemetery the dignity it deserves. We will send you a picture and the location of the site you sponsor.

Please call Brad Ste. Marie at 577-7985.

Find A Grave

St. Peter's Cemetery can be viewed online!

Will you adopt an unknown person buried in St. Peter's Catholic Church Cemetery?

Many of the tombs contain unknown persons. No one cares for their resting place, no one brings them flowers, no one stands and prays for them at the foot of their plot, and no one sponsors their grave to cover general cemetery expenses. They rest unloved and uncared for; gone and forgotten.

You can help by adopting an unidentified person’s plot for a small fee of $50 per year. Give this historic and sacred cemetery the dignity it deserves. We will send you a picture and the location of the site you sponsor.

Please call Brad Ste. Marie at (337) 577-7985 or Freddie Decourt at (337) 519-1104.