Home for the weekend: Local church opens doors for Easter

Published 12:33 pm Monday, April 2, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas



For at least one Port Arthur congregation, the Easter Triduum will be a special time other than the obvious reason.

St. Joseph Parish in Port Arthur sustained heavy damage to its church and buildings last year from Hurricane Harvey. The church’s congregation went to St. James Church on Gulfway to continue their worship and services.

This past week however, St. Joseph Parish has been moving furniture, supplies and religious iconography back into one of their buildings in preparation for Easter celebration. The Rev. Kevin Badeaux, St. Joseph pastor, found the timing of the move back special indeed.

“It’s very special. I think it’s a hopeful sign,” Badeaux said. “Many people in our community are living in houses that were damaged by Harvey. So, it’s important to reunite on our own grounds.”


Cody renovation first


The Cody Parish Hall is the first of the buildings to be renovated and will serve as the site for Easter services this weekend. It will also serve as the congregation’s main place of worship and administrative functions as the other buildings are completed.

“All of the buildings were flooded including the main building, church, parish offices and rectory,” Badeaux said.

Many buildings were inundated with anywhere between 18 and 36 inches of water.

“So, the Diocese’s plan for each of the (affected) churches was to restore one building of each to begin with,” Badeaux said.

With the work done on Cody Hall, and with more room being made for offices and other needs, St. Joseph Parish is looking ahead as it returns home.

“Beginning this weekend, we will have programs in the hall,” Badeaux said. “On April 10, we’ll be opening our other offices.”


Next up: roof, rectory


Badeaux mentioned the next stage of recovery was to fix and reopen the main building. The church and Diocese are currently in negotiations with contractors to fix areas like the roof and rectory. It will involve extensive renovations and a new chapel to be installed where the offices currently are.

There is no current timeline given for the completion of repairs, though, as there is still much work to be done.

“I was hoping we would be back in Cody Hall by Christmas instead of by Easter,” Badeaux said. “But we’re covered by flood insurance and we’re getting grants and special donations.

“It’s a long time to get the work done because we were waiting to see what the total damages were… It’s still a long process. We’re doing everything in stages.”

While Badeaux has been very grateful to St. James for having a place to worship (he is still living there), he remarked on the significance of having a place to call one’s own.

“It’s very significant to show our congregation we have our own space that can accommodate our community,” Badeaux said. “It’s like being home — being in their own homes. I think it’s a great sense of accomplishment.”