This weekend the Diocese of Beaumont gathers on September 18, at the Ford Park Arena Complex for a special Mass and celebration of 50 years as a diocese. Pope Paul VI established the Diocese of Beaumont back in 1966 and we were one of two Roman Catholic dioceses created in the United States following the Second Vatican Council. We have had as shepherds Bishop Vincent Harris (1966-1971), Bishop Warren Boudreaux (1971-1977), Bishop Bernard Ganter (1977-1993), Bishop Joseph Galante (1994-2000), and currently Bishop Curtis Guillory, S.V.D., since 2000. We have seen many changes here in Port Arthur since the diocese was established. In this city we have gone from 1 Catholic high School and 6 Catholic parochial schools to only 1 parochial school. One parish created (Queen of Vietnam Church, 1977) and one parish merged; Sacred Heart and St. Mary in 2006. Port Arthur’s population was over 66,000, and to date it is over 53,000. It may appear that I’m focusing on obvious declining statistics, but we need to address the changes and face the challenges. In 1966, St. James parish had over 1,500 registered households with 5 priests assigned, a convent with over 14 religious sisters assigned, and a parish school that had grades Kindergarten through Eighth. Today in 2016, we have one priest and one deacon assigned, no religious sisters assigned, and the parish school has been closed. Following the closing, the school building was demolished and we currently only have about 440 registered families in our parish. Let us work together and pray together to renew, revitalize, and strengthen the faith here in our parish, in the city, and in the Diocese of Beaumont. May we cooperate with God’s will in carrying out the mission that He has entrusted to us. May God bless and renew the Diocese of Beaumont as we celebrate the past 50 years and the many years to come.
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Rev. David Edwards
Pastor, St. James Catholic Church