Lafayette sheriff lauds citizenship of Thomas More dads, sons who aided Cameron Parish

In one sense, 60 dads and sons from St. Thomas More High School collected all the reward they may have needed Sept. 12 in storm-torn and forlorn Cameron Parish, where they traveled that warm Saturday from Lafayette to help people in the wake of Hurricane Laura.

The group rescued a treasured crucifix from a collapsed church and other icons from Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron and at nearby St. Eugene in Creole, also destroyed, during that September work effort. Group members also fanned out in the area to provide help where it was needed in the rural parish — there are no municipalities in Cameron Parish — in a day that started early and ended after nightfall.

“I can’t tell you how wonderful the feeling was to see the boys and dads come out and rescue that cross,” said Carla Richard, for 50 years a member at Star of the Sea. She said the volunteers looked “like angels” to local people they helped.

Their efforts were much appreciated in Cameron Parish and in the Diocese of Lake Charles, which was once part of the Diocese of Lafayette. Its bishop, Most Rev. Glen John Provost, is a Lafayette native who served most of his ministry in Lafayette. Hurricanes Laura on Aug. 27 — it packed winds of up to 150 mph — and Delta on Oct. 9, it dropped some 20 inches of rain in southwestern Louisiana, inflicted some $60-$100 million in damages to the diocese.

Efforts by the group that day were recognized this week by Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber, who recognized the youth group with the Outstanding Citizens Award in a ceremony at the Lafayette high school. Garber cited scripture — James 2:26 — “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Top stories in Acadiana in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

The Rev. Andrew Schumacher of St. John the Evangelist Cathedral said Wednesday the boys saw Cameron Parish people weep in gratitude for the good deeds the youngsters provided them last September. He said the Lafayette group didn’t plan extensively for the trip — it started with a few dads texting a few dads and taking off early that Saturday with trucks and tractors and tools.

They returned with aching muscles and prized church statuary. The crucifix and other icons were put into storage in Lafayette, with the hope that they could be restored to their Cameron homes or a nearby church. This month, the Diocese of Lake Charles announced it would build a new church at Sweet Lake, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, and created an amalgamated church parish from the former churches in Cameron, Creole and Grand Chenier.

Schumacher said the dads passed along the importance of serving others during the one-day trip to Cameron, which is 110 miles from Lafayette. Someday, Schumacher said, the boys on this trip may teach their own sons the value of service on similar trips.

Lance Strother, who leads the youth group at St. Thomas More, said the boys worked joyfully, although their hard work was made plain in their aching muscles and muddy clothes.

“It’s not difficult to convince boys that age to get dirty,” he said.


Email Ken Stickney at kstickney@theadvocate.com.