Pastor's Message

Weekly letters offered by our pastor, Father Paul Counce, first published in The Carpenter, our Parish Bulletin

November: Holy Souls and Holy People

Published: October 22, 2017

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

As I’ve mentioned for a couple of weeks now, the Solemnity of All Saints on Wednesday, November 1, is a holy day of obligation. Masses here at the Cathedral will be at both 7:30 am and 12 noon. We’ll also have our annual special Cemetery Blessings, at 4 pm at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery on Main Street behind the old Goudchaux’s building, and at 7 pm at historic Highland Cemetery on Oxford Street near the South Gates of LSU on Highland Road. Everyone is invited to attend these Masses and blessing services.

November traditionally is the month of the Holy Souls, and during it we pray in a special way for the faithful departed. You will be able to enroll the names of deceased persons in our “Book of Remembrance” in the church on or after November 1: these names are known collectively as the Purgatorial List, and they are specially held up to the Lord Jesus in prayer at Mass each Tuesday throughout the year. A candlestand is available in church in case you’d like to light a candle in their memory: this symbolizes our ongoing prayer for them as they await Judgment Day in God’s sight. And if your loved ones lie at rest in a cemetery, please visit and maintain their tombs and gravesites until we all meet in heavenly peace together.

A week later, we celebrate the 56th Anniversary of the Diocese of Baton Rouge! On November 8, 1961, in accord with a decree of Pope St. John XXIII, our area was “cut off” from the territory of the Archdiocese of New Orleans to become Louisiana’s fourth diocese, with a former chaplain at LSU here in Baton Rouge as its first bishop: Bishop Robert Tracy. Honestly, even though I was only 8 years old at the time and 6 years away from entering the high school seminary, I think I remember it: there was a “buzz” of excitement among almost all of the clergy and laity of our area, including us altar boys!

 The diocese’s celebration also highlights an important part of our Parish’s own history as well. “Good Pope John” that same day raised St. Joseph Church to the rank of Cathedral. Since then we’ve not only had the obligation, as we did before, of simply being a holy community of faith – sometimes a challenging thing in and of itself! – but also now of serving the other church parishes around us. We try to pray for and with them, demonstrate to them exemplary liturgy, charity, and Catholic Christian life, and in general share with them in the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of life in the modern world. Thank you for being a part of that mission unto the present day!

Finally, of course, the last “highlight” of November is always our Thanksgiving celebration. Here at the Cathedral, we celebrate a special “Thanksgiving Vigil Mass” at 5 pm on Wednesday, November 22. You’re invited not only to come but also to participate in a special way: bring your bread and wine! As part of the Mass I will be offering a special blessing over your bread and wine which you’ll then share as part of your family’s own Thanksgiving feast. So already plan to make this a part of your holiday celebration.

                                                Sincerely yours in Christ,

                                                Fr. Paul


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