St. Anthony of Padua
With the establishment of the Texas and Pacific Railway through the tenth ward of Avoyelles in 1882, Catholic families in the area began to shape a small community. By 1888, this community had grown and the Catholics in the area were in need of a priest who could be in residence near them--at the time, the nearest priests were in Cottonport, Mansura, and Plaucheville.
It wasn't until 1899 with the founding of a new parish in Hessmer that Fr. Alphonse Blomme, the first pastor, began making regular visits to Bunkie since it was under his jurisdiction. By the end of 1904, Mass was being celebrated for the Catholics of Bunkie wherever a suitable place could be found. Because of the growing number of Catholics in the area, it was decided to build a small chapel. Captain Alex M. Haas donated a lot on the edge of Bunkie and construction began. At the request of Mrs. A. M. Haas, the new chapel was named after St. Anthony of Padua.
It soon became clear that a resident pastor was needed in Bunkie. The people there pledged money to guarantee a monthly salary to a resident priest if Bishop Van de Ven would send one. A letter was written to the bishop on May 8, 1915; that same year in June, land was purchased from Mrs. Jennie Pearce which would become the site of the present church. A year later, Rev. Leopold Van Lint, a Belgian priest, was appointed to be the first pastor of St. Anthony Church. A rectory was built on the newly acquired land and the chapel was moved next to the rectory.
As the parish grew over the next decade, it became evident that a new church was needed. The building committee launched their campaign and construction began on October 21, 1925. This new church was completed and dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1926.
In 1931, Fr. J. V. Plauche succeeded in building St. Anthony's Parochial School; this school was staffed by the Sisters of Divine Providence.