A spirit-filled sendoff in Lafayette


The June 25 departure ceremony from St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Lafayette began the evening before with a large, festive banquet. It was held at a nearby facility of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, and over 400 parishioners and friends of the parish came together to wish Fr. Robert Seay and Br. Juniper Crouch goodbye.

We enjoyed several varieties of Cajun food after several speeches, and many expressions of appreciation. Those present were truly thankful, both for Robert and Juniper’s 17 years of presence and ministry, and the 38 years that the friars have served at St. Paul the Apostle. Fr. Joe Hund and Br. Andrew Stettler from New Orleans came as well. I was really impressed with the genuine affection that everyone had for Robert and Juniper and how deeply they would be missed. Both of our brothers have left a beautiful legacy of gospel joy and commitment.

On Sunday the 25th, all the regular Masses were canceled so that the whole parish could gather at 4 p.m. for the friars’ final Eucharist. Several deacons, priests, Joe Hund and myself, and Bishop Douglas Deshotel of the Lafayette Diocese were at the altar, in front of a packed congregation. The parish choir was joined by singers from other choirs and provided spirited worship music.

Robert preached and the Bishop had a few words before the final blessing. He said he would be celebrating Mass during the week ahead while final arrangements were being made for a new pastor. I was asked to present the Francis Medal to Lynda Young, who has faithfully served all five Franciscan pastors as parish secretary, and has volunteered in almost every other parish ministry.

The next morning was meant to be moving day for Houston, and I left before finding out that Robert would need a heart procedure before he himself could travel.