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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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We Are What We Remember’ … Second book revisits Larose memories one more time

We Are What We Remember’ … Second book revisits Larose memories one more time

A local, benefit society came into being on March 29, 1882. This catholic, fraternal organization’s birthplace was the Connecticut state legislature and not a church, but was conceived months earlier at St. Mary’s Church by a small group of parishioners under the direction of Father Michael J. McGivney.

The Knights of Columbus was formed in order to render financial aid to members and their families, primarily to provide assistance to widows and children left behind when the breadwinner passed away.

Today this organization has grown into so much more.

Father McGivney is being investigated by the Vatican for a possible sainthood and his lone KC Council has grown over the years to more than 14,000 councils representing some 1.8 million Knights throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, etc. The list of countries is numerous.

The Knights of Columbus helps families obtain economic security and stability through life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and also contributes time and energy worldwide to service in the communities in which they are hosted.

Locally, we have a Knights of Columbus Council in Matthews, Lockport, Larose, Cut Off/Galliano and Golden Meadow. Each Council follows the four founding principles – Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism – which guides and drives the Knights of Columbus in everything they do.

Charity is a big principle for the Knights. In Larose, the Knights of Columbus Father Charles Tessier Council #8898 takes this principle to heart by conducting numerous community outreach programs yearly. Some of these you might know, like the weekly, Lenten lunch-time fish fry with proceeds benefiting numerous local charities and church ministries. Or, their “bucket shakes” held at various local bridges benefiting MDF (mental disability fund).

They host poster contests, alcohol and drug abuse awareness campaigns, participate in the Catholic Youth Leadership Award Program which awards scholarships to seniors and hosts periodic Sunday lunches to raise money for seminarians and other church ministries.

KCs support youth baseball and soccer competitions between councils and extends to competing on the state level.

Each council is housed within a church parish. The Knights in Larose are housed behind Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in a 100-year old former family home/grocery store.

“Although we support Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, we are not directed by the church or the diocease,” says John Guidry, the Grand Knight of the Larose Council. “We are a group of Catholic men joining together to help our church and community.”

One of the fundraisers planned this year is the KC BBQ Cook Off held during May at the Larose Civic Center.

“Statewide all councils are encouraged to partner with Special Olympics,” says Guidry. “We are hosting our BBQ Cook Off in order to benefit Special Olympics and are very excited to partner with them.”

Service is a large part of Council #8898’s 190 members which range in age from early 20’s to mid-90’s.

“We provide millions of hours to worthy causes nationally and hundreds-of-thousands of hours within our community,” he added.

One of Council #8898’s fundraisers seemed to be a one-time event in 2007 under the direction of Dr. Roland Thomassie. They would collect family stories and photographs from the parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church and compile them into a book, We are What We Remember: A Story of Larose and Its People.

The book’s purpose was two-fold – to help pay off the church’s flood of debt and to release a flood of memories of Larose. Thus the fundraiser was dubbed the “Noah Project”...because of the flood. Clever!

Well, in 2014 the fundraiser was back with We Are What We Remember – More Stories of Larose and Its People – Volume II, and was released in November. Again, parishioners were asked to submit stories and photos, but unlike the first book, this one added a few new features and sections.

“There are 115 veteran stories in this book, a few of which are told in first person like Mr. George St. Pierre’s story or Suzanne Robichaux’s mother who was an army nurse working in tents on the front lines in Dachau,” said Tommy Robichaux who worked on the layout and editing of the second book.

“There are 41 family trees in graphical format, an index 12-pages long boasting some 1,800 names as well as 116 ‘school days’ photos displayed in yearbook fashion,” he added.

“I learned so many relationships in Larose that I never knew before,” he said. “We opened submissions in February and collected information until June 30th. Just four short months, but we far exceeded the information collected for the first book.”

The first book was some 57 chapters and 360 pages. Robichaux and the committee worked on typing the hand-written family stories collected a few hours each morning and each afternoon and finished with a 480-page book which offers some new features not found in the first book. This sequel seems better than the original!

“It was quite an enormous project,” says Robichaux.

He’s modest when it comes to discussing the amount of brainpower and hours he contributed to collect, complete and finalize the book for printing.

“We had a great committee that helped to proof and edit the book. We also had those great people that worked on the first book. And, we had the first book to use as a guide and example to show people what we wanted and what our new book would look like,” he added.

During the production of the second book, people realized a first book existed and gobbled the remaining volumes up.

“There were 300 volumes left from the first book and we sold 250 of them while working on this book,” says Robichaux. “That leaves 50 or so remaining out of an original printing of 1,500 from the first book.”

“We decided on producing a second edition of We Are What We Remember – More Stories of Larose and Its People – Volume II to help benefit the church again and to preserve our great stories in Larose,” says Guidry.

“We really were interested in our veterans … we don’t want to lose those great stories.”

This sentiment is also echoed by Robichaux.

“We are really proud of this book. We get to tell these great stories. Especially our veterans! We don’t know their stories and when they pass on, we are going to lose their stories forever,” he added. “If we can record and preserve these stories, these people can live on in our memories. We really are what we remember.”

We Are What We Remember – More Stories of Larose and Its People – Volume II is available for $40 plus tax and can be picked up at Our Lady of the Rosary Church Parish Office or at the Larose Civic Center Office.