On Friday, April 15, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette hosted the Celebration of the Eucharist and Rite of Installation of His Excellency, the Most Reverend John Douglas Deshotel, DD, as the seventh Bishop of Lafayette. He succeeds the Most Reverend Michael Jarrell, DD, who was among those who participated in Friday’s proceedings.
The third of eight children born to Welfoot Paul Deshotel and Luna Marie Manual, Bishop Deshotel is a native of Basile, Louisiana. In his formative years he attended Immaculata Minor Seminary High School in Lafayette and later attended Holy Trinity Seminary in Texas, where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy, and a Masters of Divinity from the University of Dallas. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas on May 13, 1978 in his hometown church of St. Augustine. On April 27, 2010, he was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Dallas by Bishop Kevin J. Farrell in the Cathedral Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. On February 17, 2016, it was announced that he had been appointed by Pope Francis to serve as the seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette.
As Bishop Deshotel (at left) processed into the Cathedral for the start of the Rite of Installation, he was greeted by Rev. Chester Arceneaux, Pastor of the Cathedral, who in symbolic welcome offered a crucifix for the new bishop to kiss. Bishop Deshotel offered a blessing to all those gathered in the Cathedral, which included more than 100 diocesan priests, deacons, and seminarians from the Diocese of Lafayette, as well as more than 150 of Bishop Deshotel’s extended family and friends. Others in attendance included several clergy members from the Diocese of Dallas; Catholic bishops from throughout Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida; interfaith guests; civil officials; and representatives of the Diocese of Lafayette’s central office staff.
Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond, Metropolitan of the Province of New Orleans, offered his greeting which was then followed by a welcome address from Bishop Jarrell. After that address, the Very Rev. Msgr. Walter Erbí, First Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature, read out loud the Apostolic Letter which appointed Bishop Deshotel as the seventh Bishop of Lafayette. Msgr. Erbí then presented the letter to Msgr. Russell J. Harrington (Chancellor, Diocese of Lafayette) and Msgr. Robie Robichaux (Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Lafayette) so that they could in turn present it to the Diocesan Consultors.
Archbishop Aymond and Bishop Jarrell escorted Bishop Deshotel to the bishop’s chair, also known as the cathedra. A symbol of Episcopal ministry since ancient times, the chair symbolizes the unity of the people in the diocese with their bishop. Archbishop Aymond then presented Bishop Deshotel with the shepherd’s staff, or crosier, which once belonged to Bishop Maurice Schexnayder. Bishop Schexnayder served as second Bishop of Lafayette (1956-1972) and was also the bishop who ordained Bishop Deshotel to the priesthood in 1978.
The First and Second Readings of the Mass were respectively read by Bishop Deshotel’s niece, Jacqueline Deshotel Ravey, and his nephew, Hedrick Paul Deshotel. Other participating members of the bishop’s family included his great nieces Lauren and Emily Hannon and Miranda Silvas, as well as his great nephews Jack and Colin Ardoin and Dustin Silvas, all of whom served as gift bearers later in the Mass.
Following the Gospel reading from the Book of John 6:52-59, Bishop Deshotel gave his first homily as Ordinary of the Diocese of Lafayette. This was followed by the intercessional prayers, which were offered in different languages representative of the various cultures of the diocese. In addition to English, these languages included Latin, Italian, Creole French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, and German.
Holy Communion was distributed not only in the Cathedral but also in the gymnasium of Cathedral-Carmel School, where many gathered to watch the Rite of Installation on provided television screens. Once the ceremony had concluded, a public reception was held at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Lafayette.