About the Diocese of Lake Charles:
The Diocese of Lake Charles is fairly new, having been formed in 1980. St. Peter Claver was proclaimed the patron saint for the Diocese.
Its most recent history has been marked by two major hurricanes:
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina pounded southeast Louisiana and western Mississippi. While New Orleans was saved from the winds of the hurricane, the levees surrounding the city were breached and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes. The devastation and horror were chronicled in the national and international media. The Diocese of Lake Charles stepped forward to provide as much assistance to those who had fled the aftermath of the storm with food, shelter and other aid.
Hurricane Rita became the second tropical cyclone to wreak havoc on the state when it hit near the Louisiana-Texas state line on August 24, 2005. The storm’s 100 plus miles per hour winds and more than 15 foot storm surge devastated lower Cameron Parish. The parishes of St. Peter the Apostle in Hackberry, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Creole and St. Eugene in Grand Chenier were nearly wiped out. St. Mary of the Lake in Big Lake was inundated with nearly two feet of floodwaters. The mission chapels of Holy Trinity in Holly Beach, Immaculate Conception in Grand Chenier, and St. Rose of Lima in Creole were destroyed, with the debris carried away by the wind and water. Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel in Johnson Bayou, the closest church to the spot where the eye of the storm made landfall was damaged but was back in operation by Easter 2006.
St. Patrick Chapel in Sweetlake, a mission of St. Mary of the Lake, became the hub for parishioners of the three parishes in lower Cameron. Rev. Joseph McGrath, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, has served to faithful of those three communities from St. Patrick, which had only minimal wind damage which was repaired rapidly.
Every parish in the Diocese was damaged to some extent by the storm, some more than others, but all began work as soon as possible to make repairs, reopen and more importantly to care for those people who came to their doors for help. The Catholic schools of the Diocese also sustained damage, particularly Sacred Heart of Jesus/Saint Katharine Drexel. The main building of the school, a former convent for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who once staffed the school, had to be gutted. The elementary students there were forced to move to the site of the former Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School on Cherry Street.
Among the places of interest to Catholics in Lake Charles are:
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (recently restored)
Saint Charles Center: Diocesan retreat center.
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