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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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The Senseless Death of Deacon Duplantis can lead us to a deeper spirituality

The Senseless Death of Deacon Duplantis can lead us to a deeper spirituality

We stand in awe at the great mysteries of life: the role of God in our world, suffering, death, the problem of evil, our purpose in life, love, infinity, contradictions, and human sexuality. When facing these mysteries we don’t understand or out of our control, we must not “shut down.” We need to continue searching for meaning, be in touch with our feelings, and reflect on what has happened.

Sometimes no easy answer exists. Take the example of the senseless murder of Deacon Connely Duplantis. He had given his whole life in serving others and he ends up being killed for his cell phone.

That does not make sense. How can life be so cheap? How can criminals still get guns when most Americans want some type of registration for the sale of firearms?

In his article entitled “Called to Serve: the Mission of the Permanent Diaconate,” Deacon Michael Chesley reminds us of the origin of the Diaconate: “When the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. The twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” (Acts 6:1-4)

So the community selected seven faith-filled men.

I attended the funeral for Connely Duplantis. Deacon Harold Fanguy delivered the homily. He told us that Connely’s call to serve started when he was an altar server at Holy Family. While attending Grand Caillou Elementary School, he would wake up early in the morning to serve Mass. During his high school days, he worked as an orderly at Terrebonne General.

Following his high school graduation, Connely served his country when he joined the Navy and worked as a medic aboard a destroyer in the Pacific. Following his stint in the Navy, Connely attended Nicholls and became a respiratory therapist. He worked at Terrebonne General, Our Lady of the Sea in Galliano and then Chabert Medical Center.

Connely met Yvonne Pertuit and they were married at Holy Rosary Church in December 1971. The newly married couple moved into Holy Family Church Parish where they became involved in ministry. Yvonne was a reader at the weekend masses while Connely became a Eucharistic Minister and brought Holy Communion to the homebound and those in the hospital. He also served on the parish council.

In the late 1990's, he applied to become a candidate for the Diaconate program. He was one of nine men who traveled twice a week with their wives to New Orleans for classes at Notre Dame Seminary. Hurricane Katrina delayed his ordination scheduled for 2005. Connely was ordained on June 8, 2006 by Bishop Jacobs at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.

After ordination he became involved in prison ministry with Deacon Gregory Haddad serving both adult and juvenile inmates. After retirement, the Duplantises moved to Mississippi where he helped at Holy Family Mission in Gloster.

When we look at his death, we can only ask, “How could this happen?” He spent his whole life serving others and he is gunned down while visiting his parents. We can look at the life of Jesus and understand that “bad things happen to good people.”

We need to deal with these contradictions, paradoxes, and mystery of life without becoming bitter or angry. Like Jesus who forgave those who crucified him unjustly, spiritual maturity calls us to be compassionate, merciful, forgiving, selfless, even to our enemies.