Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thoughts and Updates from Monsignor J. Robert Romero


I was reminded that it was on June 22, 2005 that Father Gene Tremie and I woke up in two different towns, he in Ville Platte and I in Opelousas - Father Tremie, the 25th Pastor of St. Landry Catholic Church; I the 26th Pastor of St. Landry Catholic Church. Father Tremie coached me on a particular need. After putting a new layer of asphalt on the church parking lot, Father Gene told me that he thought the cemetery roads should be asphalted. I told Father Tremie, “I have never been in St. Landry’s Cemetery.” So the first morning as Pastor, I visited the cemetery. It did not take a rocket scientist to agree, the cemetery needed asphalting. So we were able to get the project accomplished before the Cemetery Tours in October.

I did not realize how much an improvement it made to our historic cemetery. Over the years, as I walked to check things out in the cemetery, I realized how beneficial the asphalting is. Visiting the cemetery is easier and its appearance is more attractive. [The appearance is also enhanced with the refurbishment of the fence on Union Street. This was accomplished in the Fall of 2009.]


At the same time, I noticed the Mausoleum needed attention. I was able to get someone to give it a good cleaning. But that was not enough. It needed more maintenance. In one section the terrazzo floor sank. The curb was falling off in some places. The roof was leaking. The paint was coming off. It needed a good refurbishment. It took a while, as we experienced hurricanes by the names of Katrina, Rita, and Gustav. I wanted a company to do refurbishment who builds mausoleums. So, we were able to get Architectural Concrete Products, Inc. of Gretna, Louisiana to do it. They work for Acme Mausoleum Company. Architectural Concrete is the only company in Louisiana with the specialty to build mausoleums. They did a very good job in refurbishment. The total cost of the project was $31,200. We paid $26,792.30 and borrowed $4,407.70 to complete the payment.

Property and Liability Insurance

Now you may think I am a little cheap. I am conscious of the fact that we need $39,000 to pay the Property and Liability Insurance in July. At this time we have a little over this amount in savings. I am not complaining. I just make a point, income and expenses are not always on the same page. It is not unlike many people’s personal finances. We have to put aside for some bills and wait to pay other bills. The church survives financially from Sunday’s to Sunday’s collection. Many people survive from pay check to pay check. Many of us depend on God from week to week. Our church buildings are big. So our Insurance reflects our condition.

Valentin Hall

Now let me update in regard to Valentin Hall. This is the old convent built in the 1950’s. We use it as our Office and Family Life Center. It is a strong building. It is a beautiful building. Over time, repainting was done inside the building. This winter, with the severe winter, we began work in the cemetery later than usual. We used the time to continue repainting. We repainted two halls, and the east room (yellow room) and the north room (green room). As we continued, we noticed moisture was coming through the walls. We stopped painting in the north room, thinking we should stop painting until we correct the moisture coming through the walls.

So as Father Tremie coached me about the cemetery roads, I now coach Father Brady about Valentin Hall. Contractor and consulting architect advise we begin with the roof and facia repairs at the same time. I also think that we should do water sealing of the bricks so it is complete. This will be difficult for us to do financially as our Property and Liability Insurance takes up most of our savings. We are advised that while the shingles on the roof are asbestos, (at this time) the rules of abatement for roofs are not as complicated as other asbestos abatement. Valentin Hall and the car garage are both in need of attention. This is going to be one of Father Brady’s concerns.

Hearing Assistance

Some parishioners tell me they sometimes have difficulty hearing at mass. We recently installed a special broadcasting device that uses the airwaves to broadcast what is said and sung in church. It is like a radio for inside church. To benefit from this hearing assistance, one needs a receiver with ear pieces. Some who tried this hearing assistance found it helpful, some did not. As we get receivers, we will let parishioners know. The receiver will need to be purchased by the person who will use it and be responsible for replacing the battery in the receiver. The cost of the receiver is to be announced.

Other Items

Now other items were accomplished, namely: We improved our air conditioning in church with a new compressor. We beautified the liturgy with new altar server’s vestments. We refurbished some church vessels. We installed a new bell management software. We have a Father Lafleur shrine in church and monument in front of church. We have a new church website with the weekly bulletin and Sunday homily. We are on facebook and twitter. We have a Father Lafleur website. We did some painting in the rectory but more attention needs to be done. We began a parish outreach ministry, ministry fair, and International Dinner. An item that is still on-going is the work Mr. Lee LeJeune is doing indexing our sacramental records and checking the quality of our digital copies of these records. When he completes the project, we will be more effective in using computers to do archival research.

Our Greatest Resource

Our greatest resource is our parishioners. I find we have great parishioners who are dedicated and talented. We have parishioners who are very spiritual and who are very alive with God. However, we may be working on legacy and not on reality. We are no longer a church parish with 2,000 plus families. We are a smaller church parish whose parishioners number around 800 families. We give around 500 communions a weekend. With our large church building, we are spreading ourselves as a congregation too thin. The 5:00 p.m. mass is attended by a vast majority of non-parishioners from whom we have difficulty finding altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of communion and musicians. There are not many parishioners attending this mass. We have a strong need for our parishioners to know each other and to appreciate each other. We are a small integrated congregation who is spread out among four masses and who is busy with life. [When we divide 800 families by 4 masses we have 200 families per mass, in a big church building.] Even young families with both parents working have a difficult time organizing their family life with church. If we can continue inviting and welcoming, we may see growth in our church life. Let us continue reaching out to each other and seek to grow in the love of Jesus Christ.

Please Keep Growing

Keep coming to Christ as He calls us to deeper conversion of life and to greater love of Him and neighbor, to greater love with each other. Let us follow Jesus’ Way and become parishioners of whom people say of us, “See how they love each other.”


Almighty God, you made St. Landry an outstanding exemplar of Divine love and faith that conquers the world and added him to the role of saintly pastors. Grant by his intercession that we may persevere in faith and love, and become sharers with St. Landry in your glory. We ask this through Christ Lord. Amen.