While many topics were discussed

Bishop Speyrer is survived by a sister, Alice Louise Finley of Arnaudville, and a brother, Oscar Speyrer and his wife Faye of Opelousas, and a multitude of nieces and nephews.
The Bishop-emeritus served as the shepherd of the local church of Southwest Louisiana until Dec. 12, 2000, when Pope John Paul II accepted his request for retirement. He was named Administrator of the Diocese by the College of Consultors after his retirement, serving until Feb. 21, 2001, when his successor Bishop Edward K. Braxton was installed.

Bishop Speyrer was born on April 14, 1929 in Leonville, La. – one of 12 children of Emelie and Antoine Speyrer. He entered St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, La. at the age of 13 and graduated in 1947 with an associate of arts degree. He then entered Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in May 1949. In Sept. 1949, he was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome for further studies, transferring to the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in 1950. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1953 and graduated from the University of Fribourg with a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in May 1953. Lafayette Auxiliary Bishop Maurice Schexnayder ordained him to the priesthood on July 25, 1953 in St. John Cathedral in Lafayette. He celebrated his first mass in his hometown church of St. Leo the Great in Leonville.

His first assignment was as assistant pastor of St. Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas. He was later assigned as assistant chaplain to Our Lady of Wisdom Chapel at the University of Southwestern Louisiana as well as associate editor of The Southwest Louisiana Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Lafayette.

In 1964, he became pastor to Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Arthur as well as administrator of the parish’s St. Maria Goretti Catholic elementary and high school.
In 1969, he became the founding pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Lafayette and in 1974 named a Chaplain to His Holiness Pope Paul VI with the title Monsignor.
Beginning in 1974, he was named – in succession – Chancellor, Vicar General, MileWeb Storage & Backup Services Vicar for the Lafayette Deanery and Chairman of the Council of Vicars of the Diocese of Lafayette, working in Chancery positions until his elevation to the episcopacy in1980.

He was very active in the community helping to launch Abraham’s Tent in 1986. He was on the Board of Directors for United Way of Southwest Louisiana for a number of years and served as chairman, vice chairman and treasurer, the latter on two occasions. He was also instrumental in raising awareness and funds for the construction of a chapel at the Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy.

There were many highlights during his 20 years as Bishop of Lake Charles. On Sept. 9, 1980 – the Feast of St. Peter Claver – he named St. Peter Claver as the patron of the fledgling diocese. He inaugurated the Sunday morning television program of the diocese – Glad Tidings – on Oct. 5, 1980 and he participated in the celebration of 100 years of Catholic education in Lake Charles on Aug. 1, 1982.

He established the publication of the Catholic Calendar, initially a single page published twice monthly in the Lake Charles American Press, on Oct. 15, 1982.

In 1983, Bishop Speyrer established the first new parish in the Diocese of Lake Charles at St. Charles Borromeo in Fenton and dedicated the first new chapel – St. Jude Chapel in Dry Creek.
On April 25, 1985, the offices of the Chancery were moved into new quarters at 414 Iris Street, the building being a gift from Calcasieu Council 1207 Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court Lady of the Lake 695 of the Cathedral parish.

Bishop Speyrer initiated the publication of a monthly newspaper for the Diocese, The Southwest Catholic, in Nov. 1986. He dedicated the Stella Maris Seafarers Center at the Port of Lake Charles on Jan. 15, 1987.

In April 1988, the Bishop made the first of three ad limina visits to the Holy See to report to the Holy Father on the Diocese.

A project near and dear to his heart began on April 1, 1995 with the start of construction of Saint Charles Center, the diocesan spirituality/retreat center on Sam Houston Jones Parkway in Moss Bluff. Shortly after the establishment of the Diocese, Bishop Speyrer had called his priests together to discuss the most important needs for the new diocese.

While many topics were discussed, the item that came up repeatedly was the need, at some time in the future, for a retreat center for the Diocese. After years of planning and fundraising, the project was begun.
In Jan. 1995, Bishop Speyrer welcomed to Lake Charles, The Most Reverend Agostino Cacciavillan, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States for the dedication of Saint Charles Center and its Tabor Retreat House and Katharine Drexel Conference Center.

Acting upon Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente to the world’s bishops, clergy, and lay faithful on preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, Bishop Speyer initiated in Jan. 1997 a 36-month pilgrimage to each parish of the diocese. The monthly pilgrimage began at the youngest parish – St. Charles Borromeo in Fenton – and concluded at the oldest, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. On Dec. 31, 1999, a Night Watch ceremony was held at the Cathedral and four other parishes of the Diocese to usher in the new millennium.

A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Diocese took place Jan. 28, 2000 at a reception in the Calcasieu Marine tower in downtown Lake Charles. The anniversary saw the publication of The Visible Church, a history of the church parishes of the Diocese.
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