By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — The work by staff at the Diocese of Lake Charles Chancery is all done for the Lord. Now those employees will have a chance to be renewed in the Lord’s Presence with a chapel in the same building where they work.
Bishop Glen John Provost celebrated the first Mass and blessed the Oratory of Our Lady of Lourdes at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, October 10, 2023, in the Chancery, which is the administrative office for the diocese serving approximately 103,000 Roman Catholics in five civil parishes.
“We commit and commend this chapel to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes who listens to God and is always ready to do His Will,” Bishop Provost said. “Employees now have the opportunity to come to the Lord during the day and be seated at His feet and listen to Him.”
In his homily to those gathered for the early morning Mass, His Excellency encouraged any staff member who wants to meet with Our Lord to visit the chapel to regain strength for their task.
“Spending time with Jesus is absolutely necessary in the Christian life and certainly necessary for those who work for the Diocese,” the bishop remarked, adding, “it is necessary for anyone who is involved in the ministry of the Church.”
Referring to the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42, Bishop Provost said, “The better part is always to listen to the Lord, and for this reason we bless this chapel, placing it in the very heart and center of the new Chancery.”
The beautiful oratory, while quaint in size, is overflowing with gifts of time and talent from several around the Diocese.
Father Sam Bond, Director for the Office of Liturgy, played a pivotal role in converting the former Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana office space to a place of prayer and adoration.
“By having the oratory accessible to the staff and those whom they serve, my hope is that it will be easier to remain focused that we are doing God’s work,” said Father Bond. “To have Christ so close and present will be a constant reminder to be refreshed and rejuvenated in our work.”
The transition from office to oratory in just under a month’s time could not have happened without volunteers using their talents to give back to God in such a meaningful and lasting way.
The project was a team effort by Father Bond and Father Joseph Caraway, Vice Chancellor.
Others who donated their time and talent were:
- Stephen Broussard, parishioner of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, who helped with the stenciling of the Marian Anthem, Alma Redemptoris Mater, translated Loving Mother of the Redeemer. The chant, dating back to the 11th century, wraps around the room across the top of the walls. (See Latin text and English translation below)
- Lee Bond, parishioner of Our Lady of LaSalette Catholic Church in DeQuincy and brother to Father Bond, supplied lumber he milled from fallen trees in his yard after the 2020 hurricanes (Laura and Delta) to make the baseboards.
- Joseph and Mitzi Bond, parents of Father Bond and parishioners of Our Lady of LaSalette Parish, helped with stenciling, making the baseboards and doing trim work around the ceiling.
- Mike Nelson, parishioner of St. Henry Catholic Church, who served as electrician.
Above the altar are intricate carved images made in the Ukraine of St. John the Baptist, Our Lady of Lourdes, and the Crucifixion scene with the Blessed Mother and the Apostle John.
Seating for six is provided by choir stalls — decorated wooden seats — that had been in storage, at one time being used in the former Chancery chapel.
For Father Bond, working on the oratory project was a prayer of obedience.
“Bishop Provost asked me to do this, and it was a desire to do what he wished to make the oratory a reality. It really was a labor of love and holy obedience,” Bond shared. “Hopefully, spiritual fruits will come because of the chapel.”
In this time of Eucharistic Revival going on throughout the United States, the timing of the oratory is significant.
“Ultimately, the chapel will be for the good of the Diocese and those who work in the Chancery to be spiritually refreshed, that they have that opportunity to meet with Our Lord present in the tabernacle,” said Father Bond. “The chapel will provide a sacred space for people working here and to make available for others visiting the Chancery.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Provost generously gifted to all the Chancery staff members rosaries from his September visit to the Holy Land. The rosaries, made of olive wood, were each placed at the site of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and at the site of Christ’s tomb at the Holy Edicule in the Holy Sepulchre.
Alma Redemptoris Mater
Alma Redemptoris Mater, quæ pervia cæli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quæ genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.
Loving Mother of the Redeemer
Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.