Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — God’s call to five men overcame many twists and turns in recent months leading up to the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Saturday, June 27, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The ordinations of the Rev. Samuel Bond, Rev. Joseph Caraway, Rev. Andrew DeRouen and Rev. Levi Thompson to the priesthood — the largest number of priests to be ordained at one time in the 40-year history of the Diocese of Lake Charles — was a reminder that God’s grace always prevails, even amidst a pandemic.
Joining these four men on his own priestly journey was Rev. Mr. Michael Beverung as he was ordained a transitional deacon. With God’s grace, he will be ordained to the priesthood in 2021.
His Excellency, The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, was the ordaining prelate for the invitation-only Mass that was streamed live on social media and through the diocesan website. In his homily, Bishop Provost stressed the importance of Wisdom from the Book of Sirach.
“A priest must be humble enough to admit his weakness, courageous enough to act on the truth, prudent enough to judge when he must speak, and patient enough to know when he must be silent,” he said. “All of this requires Wisdom, a Wisdom which you do not possess, that comes from God, and that remains a gift.
“A priest needs this Wisdom in abundance,” Bishop Provost continued, “especially in this challenging world. … The greater the challenge, the more is required of your response. This is the work of Wisdom.”
He also reminded the ordinands of the important role prayer plays in their vocation.
“As Pope Benedict in the Year for Priests reminded us, people look to the priest to be an expert in prayer,” said Bishop Provost. “Through his example of prayer and personal relationship with God, the priest informs us that God is not some philosophical abstraction but a deeply personal God who touches our hearts, minds, and souls.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Bishop Provost expressed what a happy day it was for the Diocese of Lake Charles saying, “United with family and friends, bishop and priests, deacons and religious, we all rejoice in the graces that will flow at the opening of Wisdom’s arms and the embrace of Christ, the bridegroom of his Church.”
The parents of the four priests were among those rejoicing.
Thinking about what a gift a parent of a priest receives, Marty DeRouen said he and his wife Julie are not giving Andrew away but instead getting so much back in return. “The world just pours love on him, and we get a bigger family through his priesthood.”
Father Bond’s mother, Mitzi, said she had a hard time identifying what she was feeling emotionally before Saturday’s ordination. “I could not explain it, but during the ceremony, I was overcome with emotions of happiness,” she said. “I could not stop crying.” Bond’s father Joseph said with enthusiasm, “All things are possible with God.”
Frank Thompson compared his experience of attending the Mass of Ordination with the visit to Rome he and his wife Eva shared while Levi was studying there. “I feel like the Heavens are rejoicing. It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was really inspiring to see your little child that you raised since he was an infant become a priest.”
Born on the same day as Hurricane Audrey in 1957, Julius Caraway III said his son Joseph could not have given him a better birthday gift. “I feel like I am going to explode from the inside. It is overwhelming” he said standing alongside his wife, Ladonna. “I don’t feel like I am touching the ground. Nothing can top this.”
In addition to the role parents play in planting seeds and cultivating a life of prayer for these young men, priests also serve as mentors during their discernment process. To honor them, the ordinands each choose one priest to assist with vesting.
Deacon Beverung was assisted by the Rev. Whitney Miller. For Father Bond, it was the Very Rev. Ruben Buller, V.G.; for Father Caraway, it was his cousin, Rev. Michael Caraway; for Father DeRouen, it was the Very Rev. Edward Richard. V.F.; and for Father Thompson, it was Rev. Roland Vaughn.
Before the vesting, every priest in attendance lays hands on each ordinand one at a time. This symbol of unity among the brother priests was especially poignant as Rev. Trey Ange and Rev. Michael Caraway laid hands on Joseph Caraway. All cousins to one another, Joseph is the third among them to be ordained to the priesthood since 2017.
The collective gathering of priests, including several retired servants of God, was a visible reminder of their selfless vocation in service to others.
Bishop Provost expressed his congratulations to all the families of the newly ordained saying that the call to priesthood issues forth from family life by creating a fertile ground of prayer. He also acknowledged the clergy in the Diocese of Lake Charles thanking his brother priests for all their good work.
The four newly ordained priests offered blessings individually to Bishop Provost. They will each take up their assignments as parochial vicars effective July 1, as announced by the Very Rev. Ruben Villarreal:
- Father Bond at the Cathedral in Lake Charles
- Father Caraway at St. Henry Parish in Lake Charles
- Father DeRouen at St. Theodore Parish in Moss Bluff and St. Pius X Parish in Ragley
- Father Thompson at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Lake Charles
- Deacon Beverung will serve his diaconate internship at St. Philip Neri Parish in Kinder.
Masses of Thanksgiving — the first ones celebrated by the newly ordained in their home parishes — took place in the following churches: Rev. Caraway, St. John the Evangelist Mission in Lacassine; Rev. DeRouen, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Lake Charles assisted by Deacon Beverung; and Rev. Thompson, St. Theodore Catholic Church in Moss Bluff — all on Sunday, June 28; and Rev. Bond, Our Lady of LaSalette Parish in DeQuincy on the evening of Saturday, June 27.