Texas bishop’s funeral leads to reflection on vocations

Reflections on Life
By Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD
Mother Nature provided somewhat windy but otherwise unseasonably near perfect weather Saturday, November 29. People had driven or flown in from states near and far to be a part of the final salute to a native son who had risen from the rank and file Christians to be an overseer of priests, as the Greek term episkopein expresses episcopus or bishop.
Both outside and inside the church, it was obvious from the outset that the religious mindset of the church members was that old-time, dyed-in-the-wool Catholic culture that permeated their demeanor, their smile, their greeting and their words. Equally, processing into the church and recessing out of the church, they were eager to touch or shake hands.
At the top of their skill set, the men’s choir did the honors for the homegoing of Bishop Leonard Olivier, singing for the processional and recessional “Lead Me, Guide Me,” the hymn whose opening words are the motto on his episcopal coat of arms. It was the same hymn sung as the processional at his episcopal ordination on Dec. 10, 1988.
“’Lead Me, Guide Me’ was the appropriate slogan that expressed exactly who Bishop Olivier was and how he served his people,” said Bishop Glen J. Provost of the Diocese of Lake Charles who was the principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass of resurrection. “He was a humble man of uncommon character and a willingness to serve.”
Both Sacred Heart Church deacons were at the altar. Senior Deacon Edward Lavine read the Gospel and recently-ordained Deacon Erroll DeVille read the Prayer of the Faithful. So, in its own way, Sacred Heart Church is still producing vocations, giving hope  that someday other nuns – there have been a half dozen – and other priests will be called.
In fact, present at the Mass were also Robert and Roxanne Boxie, Jr., Sacred Heart regulars whose son, Robert Boxie III is completing his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College housed at the Casa Santa Maria in Rome, and is set to be ordained in October. Robert’s ordination should be a spark for other vocations at Sacred Heart. It is noteworthy that Robert is the first from Sacred Heart to study and be ordained in Rome.
Bishops concelebrating at the altar were James Terry Steib, SVD, of Memphis; Curtis John Guillory, SVD, of Beaumont; Dominic Carmon, SVD, retired, New Orleans; Martin David Holley of Washington D.C. and Shelton Joseph Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux.
The first five pews opposite the pulpit side were occupied with 28 priests, including SVD Southern Provincial Superior Father Paul Kahan, outgoing Provincial Father James Pawlicki, a generous sprinkling of SVD priests from area churches, plus a sampling of Josephites, a representative of the Norbertines, and diocesan priests such as Father August Thompson.
Congregational Leader Greta Jupiter, SBS was present with Sister Laura Mercier, and Sister Joseph Ann Gillett, of the New Orleans Sisters of the Holy Family flock.
Driven by a loving and reverent sweet melancholy, the women and men of Sacred Heart milled around as we filed out of Mass, huddled together, then milled around again at Sacred Heart Cemetery, and finally broke bread together at Sacred Heart Hall where the warm camaraderie was constantly in evidence and lingered until 4 p.m. There was an overwhelming atmosphere of faith, hope and Godly love in the extended faith family. My cousin, Rev. Randy LeDoux, could not get enough of the camaraderie and congeniality.
“Can any good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked Philip in John 1:45 when Philip told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” Can any good come from Lake Charles? Yes, a lot has, as well as SVD Fathers John LaBauve, Joseph and Ray Guidry of Abbeville, Bishops Terry Steib of South Vacherie, Curtis Guillory of Mallet, and Dominic Carmon of Gradney Island.
Amid dazzling photos from Bishop Leonard Olivier’s priestly ordination in 1951, his surviving siblings, Theresa (Ninie) and Edward, basked in the afterglow of their brother’s heroic stint as God’s special servant, and his holy transit into our Father’s kingdom. Edward again, “There will be a mighty celebration up there! What a time we will have with God!”
Many alumni seminarians, who wondered why Bishop Olivier had not attended the most recent annual October alumni gathering in Bay St. Louis, Miss., were there in force with still other alumni. Massing together after the interment prayers, they boomed forth the Salve Regina, the same daily evening prayer song led by Prefect Olivier at St. Augustine Seminary. Initiated by a teary Deacon Lavine, it took all thoughts back decades.
“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.”   (1 John 4:16)
(Father Jerome LeDoux, SVD, is pastor of Our Mother of Mercy Parish in Fort Worth, Texas. He has written “Reflections on Life since 1969.)