In 1871, Fr. Stephen Langlade, a native of Le Puy, France, began his 49 years of devoted service in the state of Florida, service given almost exclusively to the people of Moccasin Branch and Bakersville, St. Johns County.
The first parochial buildings in the Mill Creek and Elkton area were built under the guidance of Fr. Langlade in 1875. With the help of the Leopoldine Association, which concerned itself with the spiritual needs of Catholics of German descent, a church was built in front of the present Mill Creek cemetery and was called the Church of St. Leopold. Priests from St. Augustine attended the church every second Sunday of the month.
The Church of St. Ambrose at Moccasin Branch, also erected under the skilled guidance of Fr. Langlade, opened for worship on February 15, 1875. Each family in the parish was given a quota of trees to cut down and provide lumber for the new church. Priests from St. Augustine attended the church every last Sunday of the month. Fr. Langlade was named pastor of St. Ambrose in 1881. A larger structure was erected in 1907 to meet the expanding needs of a growing parish. The lumber from that first church was used to build the schoolhouse. The German settlement at Mill Creek was one of the districts of St. Ambrose Parish.
There were no parish buildings attached to the Church of St. Leopold, which remained at this location until the year 1902, when Fr. Langlade decided it was not centrally located to accommodate the people of that area. The building was disassembled, moved and rebuilt in Bakersville, its present location, some three miles south of Mill Creek, on Pacetti Road. At this time, the name of the church was changed to Our Lady of Good Counsel for unknown reasons.
In 1947, the church was painted inside and some much-needed repairs were carried out. Electric lighting was installed in 1948 and in 1949, shingles were put on the outside of the church. In November 1999, the present building on State Road 16 was opened for worship to serve the growing community. The old church has been renovated and now is used for church offices and as a meeting place for church organizations. In March if 2015, the building was converted to a parish boutique now known as the Boutique on Church Rd.
Until recently, Our Lady of Good Counsel remained a mission church of St. Ambrose and the pastor of St. Ambrose served both communities. On July 1, 2008, Our Lady of Good Counsel was given the designation of a parish of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Fr. Guy Noonan was assigned as pastor.
On December 21, 2008; Fr. Guy Noonan was officially installed as Pastor of Our Lady of Good Council by Bishop Galeone.
Resources: History of St. Ambrose Church by Fr. Thomas O’Donovan, June 27, 1950
Provided by Carole and Fred Parker
The Branches: Springs of Living Water 1875-1975, compiled and edited by St. Ambrose Centennial Committee. First edition 1975, Second edition 1988
Compiled by Carol Mathison
Updated 2017, including WGV Journal article