Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles

CAMERON PARISH –– For the first time since 2020, the annual “Mass to Avert Storms” was celebrated closer to the coast –– this year on Friday, May 31, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Life Center in Creole. A vehicle procession followed to the Historic Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Blessing of the Coast by the Most Reverend Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles.

Blessing of the Coast: Bishop Glen John Provost prays
in front of the Historic Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea
in Cameron to ask for protection during the 2024 hurricane
season. He is joined by Rev. Jerish George, M.O.C., pastor
of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Creole, right,
and Rev. Sam Bond, Master of Ceremonies.

“We come to God with a great deal of gratitude to Our Lady Star of the Sea, whose intercession has been so important to us throughout the centuries, but especially now here in Cameron Parish and in the Diocese of Lake Charles,” said Bishop Provost. “The Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea reminds us of Mary’s constant protection and her prayers for us.”

The Votive Mass took place on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with more than 60 people gathered to pray for protection during the 2024 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30).

The Mass began with everyone reciting the Prayer for Protection during Hurricane Season, which was composed in 1957 by the Most Reverend Maurice Schexnayder, Second Bishop of Lafayette, following Hurricane Audrey.

Bishop Provost said that perhaps the lesson of the Visitation and the lesson for us as we begin a new hurricane season is that we are all chosen for a special task.

“We are part of God’s mysterious plan, His Will which unfolds before us. That will sometimes involves suffering and sacrifice and penance,” he said. “But it also involves His grace and His blessings, which we have all experienced in one way or another throughout our lives.”

Kevin and Michelle Vincent attend the annual
Mass to Avert Storms on Friday, May 31, in the
Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Life Center in Creole.
The Vincents are grateful to have a place to worship
in the parish hall after their church was destroyed by
Hurricane Laura in August of 2020.

Kevin and Michelle (Guilbeau) Vincent, longtime parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Creole, know firsthand of the sacrifice and blessings of which the bishop speaks.

Michelle, 54, was baptized and brought up in the faith at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Cameron. Kevin, 59, was raised in Little Chenier and received his sacraments at Sacred Heart, the same church where he and Michelle were married by Rev. Joseph McGrath in August 1999.

They know what it is like to lose everything and start over. It happened when Hurricane Rita made landfall in 2005, the worst hurricane at the time to strike Cameron Parish since Hurricane Audrey in 1957.

It would take 10 years before the Vincents could return to Creole since it took Kevin nearly 8 years to rebuild on his days off from the oilfield.

“Rita completely took our house,” said Michelle. “Kevin’s parents had a camp in Grand Lake, so we moved there for 10 years during the rebuild.”

While they were displaced, they immersed themselves in various ministries at Christ the King Catholic Church in south Lake Charles.

It would be five short years after living back in Creole that Hurricane Laura would send them packing again in 2020, but this time only for a few months.

“Our new home withstood the powerful winds of Laura but took in nine inches of water,” Michelle recalled. “There were broken windows and roof damage. The walls and floors are all concrete, so we went in, washed it out and started over.”

The Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, attend the
annual Mass to Avert Storms on Friday, May 31, in the Sacred
Heart of Jesus Parish Life Center in Creole.

They stayed with Michelle’s parents, Francis “Giz” and Kathy Guilbeau, in Iowa, La., from September through the end of January 2021 while they were waiting on electricity and water in Creole.

When asked what motivates them to keep starting over, they both agree that Creole is home, even though it will never be like it was prior to Hurricane Rita.

As much as Michelle is glad to have place of worship in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Life Center, she still gets emotional when she drives past the church.

“My desire is for the church to be repaired. It is tough to drive up and see the devastation almost four years later,” she said with tears in her eyes. “You have to have a lot of faith, and each day that faith is tested, but I know through all this, God’s ultimate goal is for us to rely on him,” she continued.

Even through all the destruction, loss, and starting over, Kevin said, “These storms are nothing compared to devastation in other parts of the world.”

Bishop Provost reminded the faithful that we can see God’s plan being unfolded before us even in the sight of woe and tribulation, destruction, great suffering, even death.

“We are confident, we are hopeful always of Mary’s prayers and of God’s plan that all in the end will work to His own benefit and to ours as well as we place our trust in Him,” he said.

Bishop Glen John Provost prays the "Prayer for Recovery of the
Diocese of Lake Charles" following a procession from Sacred
Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Creole to the Historic Shrine
of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron. The 2024 hurricane
eason began on June 1 and will last through November 30.

At the Historic Shrine of Our Lady Star of the Sea, which was left miraculously unscathed from Hurricane Laura, Bishop Provost led those gathered in reciting the Prayer for Recovery of the Diocese of Lake Charles that he composed on August 27, 2020, in the wake of Laura. The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto was also prayed before the bishop sprinkled everyone with holy water.

Concelebrants of the Mass with Bishop Provost were Rev. Jerish George, M.O.C., Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, East Cameron; Rev. Monsignor James Gaddy, Senior Pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Big Lake; Rev. Arvind Minz, H.G.N., Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Hackberry; Rev. Joby Mathew, H.G.N., Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Lake Charles; Rev. Paul D’Sa, M.O.C., Pastor of St. John Vianny Parish in Bell City; and Rev. Anil Alexander, M.O.C.

Rev. Samuel Bond served as Master of Ceremonies. Also in attendance were several Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. Sister Marie Josepha Kluczny, R.S.M., served as lector.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS ON THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF LAKE CHARLES FACEBOOK PAGE.


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