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Lake Charles Diocese reprimands priest; says faithful should not attend his masses

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Bishop Glen John Provost of the Diocese of Lake Charles is warning the faithful of “a priest illegitimately ministering” in the Diocese.

The statement on the Diocese website says the priest, from India, has not complied with a request for certain credentials.

Hurricane Laura severely damaged or destroyed several churches in lower Cameron parish that residents say the Diocese is not rebuilding. St. Eugene’s in Grand Chenier is one of the damaged.

Father Vincent Vadakkedath from India was pastor there for 15 years and fought for rebuilding after Hurricane Rita. The project included a mural by the late Elton Louviere, a widely popular artist in Southwest Louisiana..

Back in 2007, as Louviere was painting the mural, he said of the parishioners, “They love their church and they want to see it back like it was.”

Father Vincent, as people call him, is with the Diocese of Kottapuram in India, but when he visits Cameron Parish, about six months out of the year, he says mass weekly at the home of resident T-Mae Booth behind her store.

“He has been doing a mass for us on Sundays since there are no masses available in Cameron Parish,” said T-Mae’s daughter-in-law, Michaeil Booth. “My mother-in-law is devastated. I talked to her a while ago and let her know we were having a meeting here, and she just started crying. It’s breaking her heart.”

Father Vincent would not do an interview, but says he is in good standing at his parish in India.

All gathered are upset by a warning on the Diocese website that says he’s illegitimately ministering and is not allowed to preach.

“We love our church, and we’re here because we love Father and we love T-Mae, and anything that hurts T-Mae hurts all of us,” Booth said.

They say their alternative is to drive 35 or 51 miles to the nearest church or watch mass on television. Some say they will continue attending the masses.

“We’ll have mass as long as Father will say mass for us. This is a private home,” said Shirley Bonsall, a church member.

A statement from the Diocese says sanctions were put on Father Vincent in 2019 “in response to his efforts to deceive parishioners about the funding of his retirement.”

See the whole statement below:

STATEMENT ON FATHER VINCENT VADAKKEDATH

When a priest travels outside his home diocese, it is required that his local bishop send a Testimony of Suitability for Ministry to the bishop of the diocese the priest intends to visit. These protocols are in place in every diocese of the United States to protect the good of the faithful. Father Vincent Vadakkedath has refused to produce a Testimony of Suitability for Ministry and refused to meet with the Bishop of Lake Charles. Canonical sanctions were imposed on Father Vincent in 2019. These sanctions were in response to his efforts to deceive parishioners about the funding of his retirement. The faithful of the Diocese of Lake Charles are not to attend Masses celebrated by Father Vincent Vadakkedath. Father Jerish George is the current pastor providing pastoral care to lower, eastern Cameron parish.

This is a matter internal to the Diocese of Lake Charles, and it will be brought to a just resolution according to the laws of the Church. This statement to the press is intended to inform the faithful of the reasons for which they may not attend Masses celebrated by Father Vincent Vadakkedath, and it should not be used to encourage scurrilous and idle speculations on the part of the faithful or the news media.

FROM THE DIOCESE OF LAKE CHARLES

For links to the Diocese announcements concerning the situation, click HERE.

Written by Theresa Schmidt

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