Local talent will be featured at Nov. 16 Cathedral gala
By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
Laughter is good for the soul; music soothes the soul; and the mystery of magic can leave the soul with a feeling of awe and wonder. Combine all three and you have the recipe for an evening that promises to keep everyone in good spirits.
The Cathedral Sesquicentennial Gala will feature a little bit of music, magic and laughter to celebrate 150 years of Tradition, Faith and Community at Immaculate Conception Church Parish.
To dispel any misconceptions of a black-tie formal event, Monica Broussard, gala chairman, explains, "The evening is meant to be a celebratory night of our beautiful church parish and the wonderful people who have helped contribute to it over the years. Cocktail attire or your Sunday best is completely appropriate.
“What we would love for guests to experience is a lot of catching up with old and new friends,” said Monica. “A real sense of community and tradition has gone into the past 150 years of our Cathedral parish and we hope the evening is filled with great memories.”
The gala is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in the Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank, 844 Ryan St., located on the northwest corner of Ryan and Pujo streets in downtown Lake Charles. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for cocktails and appetizers to the sounds of the St. Louis Catholic High School Show Choir. Welcome, opening prayer and introductions will follow at 6:45 p.m.
The entertainment segment of the night gets under way at 7 p.m. with dinner and dessert, catered by Reeves Uptown Catering. Featured entertainment will include local performers Aaron Baca, magician; Nichole Lanthier, musician; and Jonathan Perry, comedian. The evening will conclude with a closing prayer at 9 p.m.
“The reason we chose this type of entertainment is to showcase local and diocesan talent that are such a treasure to our area,” Monica said. “Many of the entertainers are parishioners in our Cathedral parish or in the Diocese of Lake Charles. They all tie in nicely to the theme of the night — Tradition, Faith and Community.”
Here is a sneak peek of each performer:
It’s not every 10-year-old who finds a passion for something he enjoys, then grows up turning it into a career. Fast forward 11 years. That is exactly what Aaron Baca, longtime Cathedral parishioner has done with his love for all things magic.
“My interest began when I saw a magician on television by the name of David Blaine,” said Aaron. “I was in middle school at the time and wanted to be the ‘popular kid’ so I started learning magic tricks.”
A self-taught magician, Aaron quickly learned the magic wasn’t in being popular. The magic is in seeing people smile. He said his passion and love for magic is driven by the childlike wonder that he sees every time he performs.
While many refer to Aaron as a magician, in his profession he is known as an audience-engagement specialist.
“It’s all about the relationship with people. My performances are not about the tricks. They are about the stories I can tell with the people,” he said. “It’s always about engaging the audience.”
Aaron recently attended an “Act Up” conference in Costa Rica. He was one of three in the United States chosen from a field of magicians with a focus on performing in the corporate market. Add his recent marriage to Therese to the mix, and one can easily sense gratitude in his heart.
Not to give away any of Aaron’s secrets, all he will say about his show for the sesquicentennial gala is that he plans to “tailor his act to fit his character, which for him is being a Southern gentleman.” He wants the audience to leave with a reminder of why any of us should do what we do: for the greater glory of God.
Nichole Ackoury Lanthier, a parishioner of the Cathedral, has always loved to sing and write music, so she said it only felt natural that music was the path that she would follow to serve the Church.
I started in 2003 as a high school senior singing for Mass at my home parish, St. Theodore Catholic Church in Moss Bluff,” said Nichole. “Soon after, I was invited to sing for other events, and between 2003 and 2008 have remained busy performing at Catholic events throughout the Diocese.”
While she usually performs for retreats singing praise and worship music, or cantors during Mass, Nichole wants to change things up a little for the Cathedral’s gala.
“We will be performing a fun mix of secular and Christian songs with one goal in mind — to entertain,” she said. “I have brought together a talented group of musicians, who are also friends and family.”
Married to Michael Lanthier and the mother to four — ages 10, 8, 6 and 3 years old — Nichole also enjoys writing and recording in between homeschooling her children. She released two albums in 2008 and 2006, and her music was featured on the series, “The Faithful Traveler,” which aired on EWTN in 2011.
Also known as the “Cajun Ambassador,” Judge Jonathan “JP” Perry will be on hand to keep the audience in stitches with his unique style of clean, wholesome humor.
The Louisiana homegrown native from the heart of Cajun Country was crowned King of the International Cajun Joke Telling Contest in 2003. After that, Jonathan never looked back. He has since been entertaining professionally for 16 years much to the delight of people throughout the country.
He coined and trademarked his nickname of “Cajun Ambassador” and has been featured on television and in newspapers throughout the United States.
For many comedians, keeping their performances suitable for the entire family is not always the norm. Jonathan said he does not know how to tell jokes any other way.
“The audience can expect good, clean Cajun jokes and stories,” the Kaplan resident said about his upcoming comedy act for the gala. He attributes his rich culture, good morals and modest lifestyle to the area where he grew up.
Jonathan’s background as a prosecutor, police officer and politician have also proved useful to his quick wit. He currently sits on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal as a District 4F judge. Jonathan and his wife, Christine, have four children and are members of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette.
The sesquicentennial gala will also offer an opportunity to visit with former Cathedral pastors who have been invited as honored guests.
“It is our hope to display photographs and artifacts from the rich history of Immaculate Conception Parish,” Monica continued, “It will be an evening filled with memories of the past and memories made together.”
Tickets are $100 per person and may be purchased by calling the Cathedral office at 436-7251, or securely online through the Cathedral website: https://immaculateconceptioncathedral.com/donations. If paying via the website, please notate in the comment section, “Gala Tickets.”