Local parish celebrates 75 years of service and fellowship with banquet

Local parish celebrates 75 years of service and fellowship with banquet

Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church commemorated its 75th anniversary Saturday, July 28, with a celebration banquet at the Beaumont Civic Center. “It was an opportunity to both celebrate the church’s achievements over the last 75 years, as well as to honor some of our parishioners for good stewardship,” said Coquese Williams, banquet chair.

Among those honored were adults Estrelda Sonnier, Sam Peterson and  Norris Baptiste Jr., and youths Norris Baptiste and Chastity Garrett.

The anniversary banquet is held every 25 years, the last in 1987. Approximately 550 people turned out for this year’s event, including parishioners, ex-parishioners, family members and friends.

One parishioner, Ronald J. Fontenot, 70, has been a member of the church for more than 60 years and was present at both the 50th anniversary banquet and the 75th.

“I thank God for letting me live this long … my family and I have really been blessed by the Lord,” Fontenot said. Fontenot’s wife, Dorothy, and he have been married 46 years. Their wedding took place at Our Mother of Mercy, located at 3390 Sarah St. in Beaumont, in 1966.

Father Henry Davis, reverend of the parish, said the banquet was only part of a yearlong celebration of the church’s history, which has been a history of service to the community.

“For Our Mother of Mercy, 75 years is a great feat and a great blessing,” Davis said.

Bishop Curtis Guillory of the Diocese of Beaumont was also in attendance and said the event was very inspiring and spirit lifting.

“The event reminded the people how the church has grown through the years,” Guillory said. “It’s growing and it is effective in terms of worship and community outreach. The church is very present. Seventy-five years ago, there were a handful of people and a priest. They had a desire to please God, to worship God, and to have a center at which they could not only worship, but also hold social events. They came together and built a church. Of course, they had many challenges because this was during the time of segregation. It was their dream to build a church, and they pooled together and prayerfully worked together (to make it happen).”