There is something special about the people of South Louisiana. The bond of fellowship and love goes beyond family and extends to friends and neighbors alike. There is a unity, a caring and concern for others, a welcoming love that is present within the population, and when there is a time of crisis or catastrophe, this spirit of kindness and service bursts forth and springs into action.
Preparing for the Storm
The 2019 hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Louisianians, along with everyone else living along the Gulf Coast, are on alert for storms to arise and know about preparing when one comes along. Currently, Louisiana is preparing for Tropical Storm Barry, the second named storm of the season, potentially to strengthen to a hurricane. Getting ready involves boarding up windows, stacking sandbags along entrances to prevent flooding, and, in the traditional spirit of the ever-present lightheartedness and joie de vivre that is a hallmark of South Louisianians, stocking up on beer and boudin for “hurricane parties.” Louisianians know to take Barry seriously. However, because they possess a joyful faith and confidence in God, and because they have weathered so many storms before, they are content to hunker down and endure the winds and rain, knowing that everyone will pull together to rebuild and recover from any damage that occurs.
Catholicism as a Way of Life
In Louisiana, unlike in many other areas of the South, being Catholic is the norm. A 2018 study by Barna showed the city of Lafayette, at the center of the state, to be the most Catholic city in the United States at 50% Catholic. The surrounding cities and parishes reflect similar demographics. This is due to the heavy Cajun and Creole influence in the area, in which Catholicism is not only a religion to be practiced in church on Sunday, but is a way of life, evident in the culture of the area. In South Louisiana, the new commandment to “love as Christ loved us” is carried out in the manner of practicing the faith and caring for and serving one another.
The rich Catholic influence can be largely attributed to the Acadians, who were exiled from Canada in the mid-1700s and retained their faith, heritage, and identity as they relocated in South Central Louisiana. They became the Cajuns, who, even today, have managed to somewhat preserve the strong faith and unique culture.
The Body of Christ is Alive
Having been born and raised in South Central Louisiana and living most of my life there, I can say I have been truly blessed by the Catholic spirit that permeates the culture. The Body of Christ is truly alive and vibrant in the area. Vocations are abundant. Eucharistic adoration is prevalent in the area, with some parishes holding Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Currently, the prayer to St. Medard, the patron saint for protection against violent storms, is circulating among social media users. At times like these, when challenges like Tropical Storm Barry arise, Louisianians will unite and work together, as the Body of Christ should, to weather the storm and recover from any destruction which occurs.
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