Celebrating 60 Years of Priesthood, Msgr. LaCaze Continues to Serve

by Kelly Phelan Powell

“I can’t imagine the number of people this tireless priest and faithful steward of the mysteries of God has touched, inspired and profoundly impacted in his years of zealous service, especially in Shreveport-Bossier,” said Fr. Peter Mangum of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, and indeed, it’s impressive to see Msgr. Carson LaCaze still in action after 60 years in the priesthood.

Ordained May 25, 1957 by Cardinal Cicognanni at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH, the Natchitoches native has been writing his reflections on his life as a priest, and they are inspiring, surprising and even a touch humorous. “He brings a seriousness and reverence when called for and laughter and joy with all,” said Fr. Peter.

One very surprising (and extremely impressive) fact: In his six years at the Pontifical College Josephinum, he studied philosophy, moral theology, dogmatic theology, canon law, Old Testament and New Testament. All classes were taught and all exams were given in Latin. As his education took place prior to the Second Vatican Council, students never left the campus except for medical reasons.

In an excerpt from his reflections, Msgr. LaCaze writes about receiving his first priestly assignment. “On June 28, [1957], I and the other 13 newly ordained priests for the Diocese of Alexandria received our first appointments in Bishop Greco’s office. As Hurricane Audrey was bending the trees outside the office windows, the rain pounding on the windows, Bishop Greco lectured us on the behavior of the newly ordained. Then the bishop invited us to his dining room for lunch (we were so nervous and anxious, that we hardly ate).  The bishop, after eating in a hurry, gulping his food down, speedily announced each priest’s assignment in alphabetical order and then hastily headed out a side door as he needed to be at Maryhill where he had 415 youth for summer camp.” He was assigned to serve as Assistant Pastor of St. Mary’s Assumption Church in Cottonport, LA, a small, French-speaking town.

In October of 1968, Bishop Greco named Msgr. LaCaze Pastor of Christ the King Church and school in Bossier City. It was there that, four years later, in 1972, he gave Fr. Peter his First Holy Communion. Later, in the early ‘90s, Fr. Peter served as his Associate Pastor at St. Mary of the Pines parish, and for the last 12 years, Msgr. LaCaze has been Fr. Peter’s associate at the Cathedral.

In 2000, Msgr. LaCaze had to decide whether to retire or remain active in the priesthood, and thankfully, he decided to remain active in the priesthood without administrative duties. According to Fr. Peter, he hasn’t slowed down. “I can give eyewitness testimony to his constantly being on the go, doing all the things you can imagine a priest doing (and then some) for his current parishioners and plenty of others from his past and anyone in need, especially the sick, and always covering for priests without hesitation when they are on vacation, sick or on retreat, going to another Knights of Columbus Convention or Interchurch Conference [and] out and about in the evening at some restaurant where he could be with more people,” he said.

“To minister to God’s people through the Sacraments has been most rewarding,” writes Msgr. LaCaze. “How God uses our humanity to administer the divinity – to baptize, to absolve, to feed the soul, to counsel, to join two in marriage and to anoint the weak are rewarding moments. Thank you, Lord, for 60 years of priestly service. May the Lord grant me many more years of service to His people.”  •

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