New Altar Dedicated at St. Paul Church in Minden

On December 21, just in time for the Christmas celebration, Bishop Michael Duca officially dedicated the new altar at St. Paul Catholic Church in Minden. It was the culmination of Father Mark Franklin’s, Pastor of St. Paul, beautification program for the 31 year-old building.

Fr. Franklin has been pastor since 2007 and recognized the need to improve some areas within the structure. It started with expanding the entrance areas to permit funeral services to proceed more smoothly. He has since enhanced and beautified the chapel, installed new lighting, replaced Stations of the Cross, created a choir loft, bought a new organ and many more improvements.

But his major achievement has been the complete re-design and construction of the main sanctuary. This included the removal of a raised platform area where the old altar was located, the building of a Presider’s bench and an Altar of Repose which has a carving of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was carved in 1785 in London, England. He also purchased an antique oak-carved matching pulpit and altar.

Fr. Mark discovered this unusual pulpit and altar set online. DC Riggott, Inc. specializes in architectural and liturgical artifacts. They provide antique stained glass windows, light fixtures, woodwork and paintings. that have been rescued from other churches but are in perfect condition to be used again elsewhere.

Fr. Mark Franklin’s history with St. Paul is unique. As a young Baptist lad of 12 growing up in Heflin, he was invited to attend a Midnight Mass celebration at the original church location on Broadway in downtown Minden. This experience captured his interest in the faith and he continued to learn more about Catholicism. His devotion grew over the years and he became a convert.

After graduation from Louisiana Tech in 1981 with B.S. in Business Administration, and after working with Swepco in Shreveport for 17 years, he decided to become a priest.

He has since received a Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame in New Orleans. He has never missed a Midnight Mass at Christmas since the first one he attended at age 12.

More remarkable is the fact that he has been the pastor of the first Catholic church he visited for over seven years.

by Vince Vella

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