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Posted August 10, 2010

Book: The Miracle of St. Genevieve
Author: Woody Falgoux
Woody Falgoux, Thibodaux, LA. 2010. pp. 334

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The true story of The Miracle of St. Genevieve begins in 1959, when in three scorching summer days in Louisiana, the people of a newborn parish convert a warehouse into a church. From the very first standing-room only Mass, St. Genevieve’s parishioners forge a faith that must withstand decades of crises.

As the people f the bayou build their parish, across the ocean in Rome in 1962-1965, the reform-minded Second Vatican Council forever changes their religion. Vatican II does more than convert the American Mass’ language from Latin to English; it transforms the Church’s culture.

The people of St. Genevieve must embrace the shock of Vatican II and confront other communal obstacles. They fight to keep open the parish’s school when U.S. Catholic schools are closing at an alarming rate. They battle to ensure the survival of the parish when the bishop institutes unexpected changes that make it more difficult to raise money. They must find ways to keep the people in the pews even as the national Church is rocked with clerical scandals.

More poignant are the personal stories of St. Genevieve congregants, such as their belief in the strength of prayer to help heal a fatally ill young parishioner.

As the people of St. Genevieve jointly carry their crosses, they follow the lead of emerging shepherds. A wide-range of pastors with varying strengths, weaknesses and passions make their mark on the parish during their tenures. There is the aggressive builder, Father Newfield, the wide-open evangelist, Father Roeten, and many other people and forces that shape the story of St. Genevieve.

Equally prominent in the parish is the role of ordinary parishioners. In 1970 parishioner Caroline Cappel breaks ground as a young lay principal during a period when parochial institutions are almost exclusively run by nuns. Miss Cappel and her pastor must keep the school and parish afloat while simultaneously introducing explosive Vatican II reforms.

Ultimately, St. Genevieve becomes the embodiment of Vatican II and a microcosm of the evolving Church and all of its triumph and torment. The parish’s survival, its creative accomplishments and its serendipitous, unexplained graces are all testament to The Miracle of St. Genevieve.

An Excerpt from the Book:

With the parish borrowing money to help pay operating expenses, Father Legendre was in a difficult position. He was watching businesses fold and lending institutions fail. How could he ask for more money when his parishioners were losing their jobs? While the answer did not come to him immediately, he did unexpectedly watch the gospel come to lifein 1086. Although his parishioners were struggling, many were turning their attention to those less fortunate.

On Caroline Street, Pat Barrilleaux saw the drop in his own business, but also noticed there were people much worse off. He had known about the truly poor ever since as a kid he’d traveled with his father and his parentes into the sharecropper hamlets and the brule shacks and delivered free food. It was a time to feed again.

Pat, Margaret, the diocese’s Sister Miriam Mitchell, and Catholic Social Services led what would become a community-wide, inner faith effort to create a Food Bank. Its location would be at Margaret’s parent’s old Annex Cash Grocery, located next door to the Barrilleaus’ home. With the small corner groceries all but gone now, Pat and Margaret could use the building to help stock the community’s shelves, but this time the food would be free. In May 1986, Pat, Margaret and people of many faiths across Thibodaux began to collect food, and on June 1 when the Food Bank’s doors opened, the story of loaves and fishes came to life on Caroline Street.

Table of Contents:

I. Domus

1. The cross
2. Dust in the warehouse
3. Arches of the covenant
4. Embers in the field
5. Caroline Street

II. Roeten Revolution

6. The year of Tootin truth!
7. Believing the unbelievable
8. Yes 79
9. Home, school, Church
10. Together, wherever
11. Race and table
12. Judicial confession

III. Renew the face of the earth

13. Under the Big Top
14. Miracle of the burning

IV. Exodus

15. 500 gone
16. Shalom!
17. Make me a channel
18. Drift

V. Faith

20. 2000 A.D.
21. Transfusion: Interlude: return to the west side
22. Assembly of believers
23. Fighting Irish
24. Jubilee


In thanksgiving