Bishop Michael Jarrell celebrated the mass with Father Gary Schexnayder, pastor, and Monsignor Jefferson DeBlanc, Vicar of the West Region. Other area priests and deacons joined from the Lafayette Diocese were also invited to be a part of the mass with several joining the event.
Among those visiting priests were Monsignor Robert Romero, Monsignor Russell Harrington, Father Andre “Rex” Broussard, Father Donald Pousson and Father Charles Moffatt.
The mass was designed to lend support and honor families with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the mass coordinator Janeth Harrington, the idea stemmed from several conversations with a parishioner who had lost a loved one last year.
She contacted the Diocese and over time and conversations the Diocese decided that this would be a wonderful way to start reaching out not just to those who had lost a loved one, but to those who had members currently serving overseas.
“We were looking for a way to reach to the families because so many locals from Acadiana are in these wars,” said Janeth Harrington.
The program for the evening consisted of a reading of the Covenant Agreement between the Diocese of Lafayette and the Archdiocese of Baghdad. A liturgy of the word and a liturgy of the Eucharist were also recited before the concluding rite was said.
At the event St. Micheal prayer cards and medals were also available, both of which went very quickly. Saint Michael is seen and honored as a saint to pray to for protection. He is the patron saint of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.
The mass was sponsored by the West Region of the Diocese of Lafayette. The sacrifice of men and women serving in the military was recognized and prayers were offered to families of military personnel, who are also under stress during their soldiers assignments in hostile foreign countries.
The service was open to any and all who wished to show support to soldiers and their families. Church officials say that 300 to 400 people were in attendance at the event Thursday night.
The mass was also a special event because Thursday also marked the day that about 250 members of the Louisiana 256th Brigade returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Harrington said that the Diocese did not know that so many of the local troops would be coming home but it did work out quite well with their return falling on the same day.