Father Jerome LeDoux, former St. Augustine pastor, dies at 88

Clarion Herald, Obituary News

Divine Word Father Jerome G. LeDoux, the longtime pastor of St. Augustine Church in New Orleans, died Jan. 7 in Lafayette following heart surgery. He was 88 and had served as a priest for 61 years.

The native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, entered the Divine Word High School Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, at the age of 13 in 1943, began novitiate studies at the Divine Word Seminary in Techny, Illinois, in 1947 and took first vows in 1949.

He attended Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, and then St. Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis, taking final vows in 1957. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 11, 1957.

Father LeDoux studied canon law from 1957-61 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he received a doctorate in canon law and a master’s degree in sacred theology. He taught canon law and moral theology at St. Augustine Seminary from 1961-67 and later was a professor of moral theology at Xavier University of Louisiana, where he also served as university chaplain.

Following his teaching ministry, Father LeDoux was assigned as pastor of several parishes in Texas and Louisiana until his retirement in 2015. He served at St. Martin de Porres in Prairie View, Texas (1981-84); St. Paul the Apostle in Baton Rouge (1984-88); St. Augustine in New Orleans (1990-2006); and Our Mother of Mercy in Fort Worth, Texas (2006-15).

In his retirement, he lived at St. Augustine Seminary and then at Holy Ghost Church in Opelousas from 2016 until his death.

An accomplished author and columnist, Father LeDoux began a weekly syndicated column, “Reflections of Life,” in 1969. The column appeared throughout the U.S. and in the Louisiana Weekly and Sea Coast Echo in Bay St. Louis.

He wrote “War of the Pews: A Personal Account of St. Augustine Church in New Orleans,” describing the history of the parish that from its beginnings in 1841 served the spiritual needs of whites, free people of color and the enslaved.

In 2006, after the parish was scheduled for closure during the post-Katrina restructuring of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, parishioners successfully petitioned the archdiocese to reverse the decision.

Ralph McCloud, director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in Fort Worth, wrote in a Facebook post that Father LeDoux “blessed us with tamales, song, prayer, faith, friendship, food and frivolity.”

“He walked among us in sandals and serendipity,” McCloud said. “He lived hospitality, personality and individuality. His laugh was contagious. His smile was infectious. … He always had time. He danced, he sang, he prayed. He listened, he spoke, he wrote. He was probably the most intelligent person we ever met. He was the humblest person we ever met.”

A Memorial Mass was celebrated Jan. 14 at Holy Ghost Church in Opelousas. His Funeral Mass was celebrated Jan. 16 at St. Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis. He was buried at St. Augustine Seminary Cemetery.

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