March 6, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
After nearly two years without a bishop, Catholics in Southwest Louisiana are excited to hear they will soon have a new shepherd. He's Rev. Monsignor Glen John Provost and it turns out, his very first assignment more than 30 years ago was in Lake Charles. Provost told those gathered for the announcement, "Then Bishop Frey assigned me to serve as associate pastor of our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, down the street. I sense that the circle is complete."
The news conference announcing Provost's appointment was held at the Pastoral Center at the Diocese Office on Iris Street in Lake Charles. Provost says it's too soon to say what may be the challenges or problems facing the diocese, but seems to understand how difficult it has been for many still struggling with hurricane recovery. "People who exhibited such courage and perseverance in facing the full force of the destructive storm, these steadfast and strong men and women are an example to us all."
Bishop-elect Provost expressed joy about his new assignment and says he looks forward to serving the people here. "I ask the sincere prayers of the Catholic faithful of the diocese and all people of good will and assure them of my enthusiasm in shepherding the flock entrusted to my care."
Priests and others here look forward to the leadership of a new bishop. And they consider it a blessing to have someone who knows the area. Rev. Henry Mancuso is the pastor at Sacred Heart in Lake Charles. "I'm really very thrilled to be welcoming Bishop Provost to the Diocese of Lake Charles as a classmate of mine. I've known Bishop Provost for many years. I think he's familiar with our area. It's a thrill that we are welcoming someone very much a part of our culture here in Southwest Louisiana."
And Mancuso says Provost knows what the area has endured during and since Hurricane Rita. "He knows our temperament because he's very aware of the sufferings we've had following Hurricane Rita. I think it will give him a much quicker start in his ministry as shepherd of this diocese. His learning curve will be much shorter than if someone had come to us from an outside place or a distant place away."
Father Keith Pellerin of St. Martin de Porres agrees. "One of the things we're very excited about is that he is a Louisiana native and that he's going to be here and be with us. It's like welcoming a family member." Pellerin admits, "The wait has been very difficult because you can't do any major development anywhere in the diocese until we have a bishop and so, it has been a little frustrating from time to time. But at the same time, also remaining true to the spirit, that the spirit is really working through the church to bring about leaders who are well prepared.
Sister Camille Martinez of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish is encouraged by Provost's history as a church pastor. "I'm looking forward to a very pastoral bishop, one who understands the challenges that we face day in and day out as we try to make Christ come alive for people." She too is happy to see the wait end. "I know that we have been praying and waiting and anticipating for a very long time and it's just a great day that finally someone from so near has been appointed to our diocese."
OLQH Principal Mary Anne Hipp is excited about Provost's interest in Catholic schools."It's a very exciting moment for, I know, all the principals of the Diocese of Lake Charles. We have been waiting. Our children have been praying daily for a new bishop. We are so very blessed to have someone who obviously is going to embrace the value, the importance of Catholic education in our diocese."
Provost began his ministry of the Lake Charles Diocese with a prayer and blessing upon his new flock.