THIBODAUX, La. — It was a celebration 100 years in the making.
Parishioners and guests gathered Sunday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Thibodaux to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary.
Bishop Shelton Fabre delivered Mass in honor of the milestone, which fittingly fell on Pentecost.
According to the church’s pastor, the Rev. Josekutty Varghese, Pentecost is the 50th day after Passover and commemorates the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles.
“They were no more frightened about anything and their fear and worries about their own lives vanished from their minds and hearts,” Varghese said. “It’s so great to be here on this 100th anniversary celebration. It’s a good community and a welcoming community.”
In his homily, the bishop said the venerable church has served as a community gathering place in both good times and bad.
“In the parish communities there is union and unity,” Fabre said. “That does not mean there are not disagreements and difficulties. But even in spite of those disagreements and difficulties, the community faces them together. Guided by their pastor as brothers and sisters, one family in faith, they make decisions and move forward together. For 100 years people have come here in times of joy, sorrow and routine. All of those people in the past who have lived their faith here and worshiped the Lord, we stand today on their shoulders and join them in communion.”
Following Mass, the congregation gathered for lunch and fellowship.
Celebration organizer Marvin Montgomery said planning for the anniversary took about a year of preparation.
“St. John began as a community of people helping each other and has continued for 100 years,” he said. “I’ve never seen a parish that comes together like this. There’s a feeling of being a community where the people all know and respect each other.”
Parishioner Clare Acosta, who’s attended St. John for over 40 years, described the church as one big family.
“We were kind of roaming Catholics until we had children,” she said. “They loved being here so much because everybody was so attentive to them. If we went to a different church on Sunday, they misbehaved so that we could come back to St. John. We once painted the church ourselves, and it was like a family coming together to paint their house. It felt like we belonged.”
Acosta believes the secret to the church’s longevity is the people who make it what it is.
“We’ve been blessed with amazing pastors,” the Thibodaux resident said. “From the time we’ve been here we’ve had one amazing pastor after another. Having those good leaders I think means a difference in what we receive spiritually. The people who belong to St. John love their own children and everyone else’s children. We also have amazing cooks at this parish, and that makes everything fun during our celebrations.”
For longtime parishioners like Cam DeGravelle, the church represents more than just a building.
“From the day my wife and I moved here we haven’t regretted it for a second,” said DeGravelle, who has been a member of the church for 44 years. “The St. John community is a great place to live. This anniversary caps the whole thing off. The church has been a keystone for this area for so long. It is the core of the community.”