By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — Rev. Jeffrey Starkovich, Class of 2003, will take a trip down memory lane when he serves as the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Saint Louis Catholic High School Homecoming Parade on Wednesday, September 27. He will also be celebrating his 20-year class reunion.
“My favorite memories from St. Louis involve faith and community,” said Starkovich, who now serves as Pastor of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Ragley. “I spent many hours in prayer in the chapel in the Commons. Looking back, my time in prayer before class, during lunch, or after school was very influential in my vocation.”
Father Starkovich is grateful to his parents, Paul and Martha Starkovich, who worked to provide him with a Catholic education. He still has good memories of teachers who changed his life, or friends whom he still cherishes today.
A lot has happened to Father Starkovich since he walked the halls of his alma mater.
After graduation, he studied at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Liberal Arts in 2007. He went on to complete his theological formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, from 2007 to 2011, graduating from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.
Upon his return to the Diocese of Lake Charles, Father Starkovich was ordained a priest on June 11, 2011.
“I was inspired by several priests to pursue a vocation to the priesthood,” he remarked. “Among them were Monsignor Irving DeBlanc, Father Wayne LeBleu, Father Whitney Miller, Father Tony Fontenot, Father Wayne Duet, and others who served as great role models.”
Priesthood is a glimpse into the infinite creativity of God, said Father Starkovich.
“After 12 years of priestly life, no two days have been the same. The Lord is always full of surprises, especially in the way that He works in the lives of his people,” he said. “I find the most joy in finding the ways that God’s grace works to bring people to conversion and a deeper life of faith. It’s a marvelous adventure to be a part of God’s plan.”
Some people might not realize that Father Starkovich can do more than just help heal souls. He is also quite handy with a tool set, ready to tackle the next project.
“I am always happy when I am learning,” he said. “I enjoy fixing things that are broken and have been known to tackle projects of any kind. If there’s an electrical, plumbing, maintenance, or technology issue, chances are I’ll attempt to fix it myself. In fact, I haul a significant number of tools around in my vehicle daily just in case I need them!”
During his 12 years of priesthood, Rev. Starkovich has been assigned to five parishes — Our Lady Help of Christians, Parochial Vicar (2011-2013); St. Margaret of Scotland, Parochial Vicar (2013-2015); Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Senior Parochial Vicar (2015-2016); St. Henry, Pastor (2016-2018); and his current assignment as Pastor at St. Pius X since 2018.
Additional assignments include Chaplain to St. Louis Catholic High School (2013-2016), Vocation Director (2016-2021), Diocesan Spokesperson (2016 – present), and Chair of the Presbyteral Council (2022 – present).
For Father Starkovich, the ability to practice faith in every aspect of life is the most important part of Catholic education. He recalls being a student at St. Louis during the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
“I was in Coach Oertling’s American History class when Coach Graham burst in the room unannounced, ran to the TV, and turned it on. He said, ‘A plane just hit the World Trade Center …' and as the tube television warmed up, we watched a plane strike the second tower,” Starkovich recalled.
“Coach Oertling told us wisely that this would be one of the most significant moments of our life, and that the world was going to change,” he continued. “An announcement was made for the entire student body to gather in the Commons. We opened the chapel and prayed a rosary for our nation.”
If Father Starkovich were to give advice to high school student Jeffrey Starkovich, he said that he would tell him to do the right thing, even if it comes at great cost.
“Sometimes, a young high schooler can wonder if the right and moral choice is worth it,” he said. “As a young adult, I have come to understand that the right thing is always worth doing. Always.”
All are welcome to join the festivities of the Homecoming Parade beginning at 5:30 p.m. The parade route begins at the corner of Bank and 9th streets, continuing East on 9th Street to Enterprise Boulevard, then heads South on Enterprise to 11th Street, then West on 11th Street to Kirkman Street, then North on Kirkman to 7th Street, then East on 7th Street, concluding on Bank Street.