Diocese of Lake Charles
“When a storm hits, there can be many different outcomes. Regardless of whether there is devastation or not, God’s will is being done in some mysterious way,” Bishop Glen John Provost reminded those attending the annual Mass to Avert Storms on June 1 — the first day of the 2022 hurricane season.
“We have come this evening to pray for protection from those very storms. Nobody wants a storm. Nobody wants destruction. No one wants catastrophe,” said Bishop Provost. “But when they do occur, and there is destruction, we need to be reminded that even in destruction and catastrophe, God extends his merciful protecting hand.”
This year’s votive Mass took place in the parish hall of St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in Big Lake, followed by a pilgrimage to the Historic Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron.
Bishop Provost was joined by Monsignor James Gaddy, pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish; Rev. Jerish George, M.O.C., pastor for Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, East Cameron; Very Rev. Ruben Buller, Vicar General; Rev. Samuel Bond, Master of Ceremonies; and Deacon Patrick Lapoint, Sr.
Many Cameron Parish residents are still displaced from their homes nearly two years after the back-to-back hurricanes of Laura and Delta, making it seem like hurricane season is year-round.
Brent Morales, a life-long resident of Creole for 43 years, has been living in a camper on his property since Nov. 3, 2020, with his wife Amanda and their young son and daughter.
“Something weighs your heart down all the time during hurricane season and the months leading up to it,” Morales said. “In the back of your mind, we wonder what this hurricane season is going to bring this time.”
The decision to not rebuild in Creole has never crossed Morales’ mind. “I’m going the extra steps to build stronger, more sustainable for these more frequent hurricanes.” Morales who is grateful to have the Shrine in the diocese said, “It means a lot to gather and pray as a community. It is bonding."
Bishop Provost told the congregation that no matter what happens throughout this hurricane season, God will bring about some good work that He has intended in his everlasting and loving plan.
Michelle Mudd, a longtime parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Creole, can relate to finding the fruits that come through suffering. She and her husband Chad experienced loss in the city of Cameron when Hurricane Rita hit in 2005.
“Hurricane Rita forced us to evacuate our home and temporarily relocate to Lake Charles. It was then that we had the opportunity to send our twin daughters to Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic School,” recalls Mudd. “That is how my children’s Catholic education began.”
Michelle and Chad eventually relocated to Sweetlake, only to be displaced once again from the 2020 storms. However, she is still convinced of the power of prayer.
“No matter what happens, if you remain faithful, there is a sense of we’ve been through it, we survived it, and we’ve come out on the other side of it. God has remained faithful, and our family continues to be blessed,” Mudd said.
On her commute from Creole to her job at the Cameron courthouse, Debbie Savoie said she stops at the Shrine to pray the hurricane prayer throughout the year. She and her husband Dave along with their son Jeremy are finally back in their home following the 2020 storms, but there are still many things packed in boxes.
“My crosses are hung above doors, but fear keeps me from settling in all the way,” Savoie said. “I am a worry wart, but I do my best to give it to God. I always ask our Blessed Mother to spare us from past tragedies, just like the hurricane prayer says.”
“We should approach this hurricane season with confidence that God is indeed protecting us, and He will bring about whatever is His will, and indeed may His will be done,” Bishop Provost said.
At the Shrine, which was left miraculously unscathed from Hurricane Laura, the Bishop led those gathered in praying the “Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto” followed by the “Hurricane Recovery Prayer.” The Shrine was erected in 1963 to honor victims of Hurricane Audrey, one of the deadliest storms to ever strike the United States.