Posted by. Tre Williams on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 9:44 AM
Story by Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald:
Ten rows of priests concelebrated with Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes Feb. 15 at the Funeral Mass for Msgr. L. Earl Gauthreaux at the parish he led for 52 years – St. Maria Goretti.
“My sisters and brothers, we gather this morning as a family of faith, a family belonging to our God but also to Msgr. Gauthreaux,” Archbishop Aymond said. “And we come together to thank God for the gift of Msgr. Gauthreaux, his life, his faith, his family and the many ways in which he has served and led God’s people for over 60 years.”
His relatives from his native Plaquemines, Louisiana, outside of Baton Rouge, were in attendance at the Mass as were many of the people he served for half a century. In 1968, he became the second pastor of St. Maria Goretti, located in what Father Pat Williams, vicar general of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said was the “near East” of New Orleans.
Father Williams first got to know Msgr. Gauthreaux as a student in his canon law class at Notre Dame Seminary.
“I learned then how much he loved the priesthood and how much he loved being with the priests – a tradition he carried on with his Thanksgiving luncheons all the way to this day,” Father Williams said. “I also learned, like his good friend Msgr. (Clinton) Doskey, that the law was not an end to itself. The law was always about the people and how it could serve them and help them in their relationship with God.”
Father Williams told the packed church of his many memories of his friend, Msgr. Gauthreaux, and he knew those attending had their memories, too. In bidding him farewell by celebrating the Eucharist, “our remembering is the work of the Spirit, and that means when we come together today in this place, we remember in love, and we remember in faith, and that gives us hope. We remember in love all the ways that Msgr. Gauthreaux touched the hearts of everyone here.
“The book of Ecclesiastes (the first reading) tells us there is a time and place for everything. I’m sure you can remember those times in which you weeped at funerals, and Msgr. Gauthreaux was there. In times of joy – baptisms and weddings; the times in which he stood right here (at the ambo), so many many times that he proclaimed the Good News. The times that he offered counsel and guidance for his family, whom he loved so much, for his church. He dedicated his life to serving.
“It’s through the Spirit that we remember in love, because St. Paul (letter to the Romans in the second reading) tells us that love never ends. He tells the Romans that there is nothing more powerful than the love of God in Christ Jesus. So, as we gather and remember in love, our hearts are saddened, yes, but whenever we remember, there will be love. And, that love gives us hope.
“We also, in this funeral liturgy, gather to remember in faith – faith that is so beautifully proclaimed in the Beatitudes. To remember in faith means that we can proclaim, ‘Lord, for your faithful, life has changed not ended.’ For remembering in faith tells us that what we do at this table is not just a memory, but it is making present the very presence of God, the presence that Msgr. Gauthreaux celebrated so faithfully for such a long time. This is the faith that we live. This is the faith that Msgr. Gauthreaux lived and taught throughout his priesthood. Remembering in that faith sustains us in hope.”
Father Williams urged everyone to always remember that in the midst of our dark valleys, God is always with us.
“That is my prayer for each one of us – for monsignor’s family, friends, his parish family, his brother priests, all those who loved him and knew him,” Father Williams said. “My prayer is that with God’s help, every time we remember, there will be love. Every time we remember, there will be faith. In love and faith, may each of us find hope and peace.”
Had the last words
Mentioning that Msgr. Gauthreaux was not shy about expressing his opinion, Father Williams thought it apropos to let Msgr. Gauthreaux’s own written words be the last before departing the Funeral Mass:
“I have loved as God wants us to love. I could never be a politician, especially an ecclesiastical politician. I must be honest, truthful, just, a good, kind friend to all, even the bishop, who may not appreciate what I stand for. I am happy with what I am and what I have achieved and the work I have done, all I have helped in my priesthood. I have been in the company of the best, and have been in great places and great times. I think I have helped and taught much to many priests and people. Thank you, God. Be merciful to me, a sinner. Let me forever be in the company and presence of my best friend and family. Deo gratias (thanks be to God).”
“Deo gratias, indeed,” Father Williams said.
A second funeral liturgy was held for Msgr. Gauthreaux, who died Feb. 8, at age 89, at his childhood parish, St. John the Evangelist in Plaquemines, Louisiana, Feb. 18.