Dear Friends in Christ,
I want to take this opportunity to say how happy I am about my assignment to Ascension of our Lord and St. Francis of Assisi in Donaldsonville. I am looking forward to once again making my home along Bayou Lafourche. The Catholic Church has such a long, rich history in Donaldsonville, and it is hard to describe how exciting it is now to be uniquely a part of that history as I become your pastor. Donaldsonville is no stranger to me, but I did want to also take this opportunity to introduce or, for some, to reintroduce myself to you.
I was born at Prevost Hospital in Donaldsonville and grew up in Belle Rose. My parents are the late Thomas Dupre, Sr., a sugarcane farmer, and Ruth Dupre, who was a registered nurse at Prevost Hospital for many years and who is currently living with advanced dementia. I am the youngest of nine children. When people find out I’m from Belle Rose, and if they do not know me, more than likely they know one of my siblings. Conversations usually go, “Are you related to Steve? Tommy? Tim? Jeff? Henry? Alice? Missy? Julie?” And my response is, “Yes, he/she is my older brother/sister.” I always like to emphasize that I am their younger brother.
I went to St. Elizabeth School in Paincourtville for kindergarten thru the eighth grade and I graduated from Ascension Catholic High School in 1989. I am a proud alumnus of ACHS and my family has a long history with Ascension Catholic School. I look forward to being involved with the school and all the activities associated with it. This will be the first time in my priesthood to have a school associated with the parish that I am assigned to and it will be a new and refreshing part of my priestly ministry. Go Bulldogs!
I entered St. Joseph Seminary College in the fall of 1991 and graduated in 1994. I received my Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame Seminary, School of Theology, in New Orleans and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Baton Rouge on June 6, 1998. My first assignment as parochial vicar was at St. Jean Vianney in Baton Rouge from 1998-2000. I was then assigned to Christ the King at Louisiana State University and then to Holy Rosary Parish in St. Amant. For nine years I was the pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brusly. I was assigned as the Director of Vocations and Seminarians for the Diocese of Baton Rouge on July 1, 2012. I was also administrator of St. Theresa of Avila Church in Gonzales for one year. I was most recently pastor of St. Patrick Church in Baton Rouge for four years. I resigned as Vocation’s Director and pastor of St. Patrick in the spring of 2018, while experiencing a very personal, intense, and difficult battle with severe depression. The diocese, the church, my family and friends, and the people of God have been tremendously helpful and supportive of me in dealing with this disease. I thank the good Lord that I am doing much better now, and those who are familiar with major depressive disorder know well that it is an ongoing journey of paying attention to one’s own well being and state of mind. I share this last part with you because I have never made my struggle with depression a private matter (how could I after all?), but I have learned that many others suffer with depression as well and in sharing my own story with you, hopefully, we can help each other.
I have been a priest now for twenty-one years. I have learned a lot and I know that there is still a lot to learn. I invite you to join with me in praying for Fr. Paul Yi and Fr. Tim Grimes. Transitions are always difficult, and I think for priests moving from one parish to another is particularly difficult, so let us pray for Fr. Paul and Fr. Tim for their own well-being in this time of transition. I know Fr. Paul, as your pastor for these last several years, will be missed by so many of you. I can never replace him, and I won’t pretend I could, especially his beautiful singing, but I hope that what I do bring will continue to build on the good work that he has done.
I’m terrible with names, so please introduce or reintroduce yourself to me. It may take a while, but I will get your name sooner or later. Thanks for the warm welcome you already extended to me and I look forward to many wonderful years of ministering with you in God’s holy vineyard we call Ascension of our Lord and St. Francis of Assisi.