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‘A time to every purpose’: Community-wide mass celebrates St. Mary Hospital

Hundreds of people filled St. James Catholic Church for a community-wide Mass and later Kirwin Hall to honor St. Mary Hospital on Tuesday.

The Rev. David Edwards, the celebrant and one of six priests celebrating the Mass, reiterated words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens,” and John 14: 1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

These have been reoccurring themes with the closure of the 89-year-old hospital, but Edwards reassured the congregants that although change can be difficult, one must trust in the Lord.

The Rev. David Edwards, left, and the Rev. Don Donahugh pray during a community-wide mass to honor St. Mary Hospital at St. James Catholic Church on Tuesday. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Though the building has closed its doors, the spirit of hope and all that the hospital has meant to people does not go away. Ryan Miller with Christus Southeast Texas Health System said it was touching to see the number of people remembering the legacy of St. Mary, and that the legacy would continue five miles to the north with the soon-to-be-renamed Christus St. Mary Outpatient Center.

Remembering St. Mary Hospital

Ties to St. Mary Hospital run deep for many. Deloris Decoux Devillier was born there in 1930 — the year the hospital first opened. She later worked there in 1948 at the switchboard. Leo and Mary Bishop Decoux were sacristans tending to the altar at the hospital’s chapel for seven years.

Freida Landry, left, Mary Ford, Keana Hackett, Florid Ford, Rita Manuel and Rose Sandoval pose for a photo during a reception at Kirwin Hall. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Others have different memories. Denise Beyt Barkis was born there is 1935 and her father, Dr. Frank Beyt, worked there from 1930 to 1969. Lili Cormier worked at the hospital for 24 years as a physical therapist and had all eight of her children there.

Rita Manuel spoke highly of the nuns — the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word — who were like second parents to her.

“I started working there at 18, maybe 19 years old, from 1969 to 2004 in food service,” Manuel said, adding that she did catering functions. “I had a lot of great directors and enjoyed my time at St. Mary.”