The last weekend I visited Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lake Charles with its mission of Our Lady of Fatima and in so doing completed my fourth cycle of parish visitations for 2012-2013. During this time period, I also visited St. Joseph Parish in Elton, Sacred Heart Parish in Oakdale with its mission of St. Frances of Rome in Elizabeth, and Sacred Heart Parish in Creole, along with Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Cameron.
The parish visitations offer me the opportunity of seeing firsthand the ministry and vibrancy of our parishes in the Diocese of Lake Charles. The pastors and their staffs submit to me a parish visitation form in which they detail the pastoral ministries in which they are engaged. I am always so impressed with what I find.
Each parish has so much to offer. On the coast I saw how the rebuilding was progressing. Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Creole has just completed the final construction project of a new parish hall. I will bless that hall in May. The new rectory was finished last year. St. Joseph Parish in Elton had undergone major reconstruction of its nave that was collapsing under the weight of the roof. Through the generosity of diocesan funding, Catholic Extension Society, and its parishioners, I was able to celebrate Mass in a newly refurbished church. Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish continues to grow with remodeling of its sacristy and the addition of classrooms in the parish hall for catechetical instruction, as well as expansion of its ministries. In Oakdale, we found a lively Sacred Heart Parish youth group, with ministry in religious education still a priority and an ever increasing number of converts to the Catholic faith.
In each of the parishes, the pastor hosts a dinner attended by the staff and councils of the parish. At this meeting, I share with them my observations about their report and entertain their questions. Another purpose of my visitation is to thank the parishioners at every Mass for their generosity to the Bishop’s Services Appeal. I want them to know of my gratitude and the needs which they help us to address.
I wish to thank publicly Father Jose, Father Goodly, Father Babasino, and Father Johnson and their parishioners for the warm reception I received. May God continue to bless them abundantly in this Year of Faith.
I look forward to beginning the fifth cycle of parish visitations in the fall.