Illuminator Podcast: A Louisiana church tries to recover from two hurricanes

And interview Rev. James Gaddy of St. Mary of the Lake Catholic church in Cameron Parish

Hosted By: Julie O'Donoghue - January 8, 2021


Below is a transcript of a portion of this podcast episode. Julie O’Donoghue interviews Rev. James Gaddy of St. Mary of the Lake Catholic church in Cameron Parish about hurricane recovery. Gaddy’s church suffered $3 million worth of damage during the 2020 hurricane season. Below is an excerpt of their conversation. 

Julie: It’s not clear whether the church will have enough money for a full rebuild. In the past, they would have leaned on their insurance policy to cover the costs. But Gaddy says that’s not an option anymore.

Gaddy: Catholic Mutual Insurance had covered us for Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike and said that we would no longer be able to have enough money to cover all of our losses. And so that’s why the bishop is dealing with FEMA to try and help cover our losses, and the losses to the dioceses are approximately $60 million to $80 million or even more.

Julie: St. Mary of the Lake will survive. But with insurance not covering the full price of t rebuilds, some Catholic churches in Cameron Parish will probably be shuttered. The insurance company told the diocese it has been through too many hurricanes already.

St. Mary of the Lake
St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue)

Gaddy: They replaced all the churches down on the coast. St. Eugene’s in Grand Chenier, Sacred Heart in Creole, Our Lady Star of the Sea in Cameron were totally destroyed – not once but twice. Catholic Mutual covered the entire cost of those both times. But they informed the bishop, that in the future, because of the liability and the likelihood of another hurricane also causing total destruction, they would not be able to replace them as they had in the past. And so that is the situation that has occurred and so as a result of that, the bishop is not quite sure whether or not he is going to — or how much he is going to replace those particular churches.

Julie: Gaddy believes one of those three churches on the coast might be rebuilt. His mission church a few miles away could also  become larger to accommodate people whose churches are closed.

St. Mary of the Lake Parish Hall
St. Mary of the Lake is currently holding mass in its parish hall. Its sanctuary was declared structurally unsound after Hurricane Laura. (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue)


Rev. James Gaddy

St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church

Gaddy has served as pastor at St. Mary of the Lake since 2016.