Fr. Donald Theriot
Fr. Theriot was born on November 20, 1931 in Gueydan, Louisiana. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lorette A. Theriot and Laura Mae Gooch Theriot; and his sister Betty Mae Theriot Lowe. The Theriot Grand Famille or extended family are a very significant association and people in Acadiana and Louisiana and Acadian heritage and life. Fr. Theriot was never unaware of his heritage nor unwilling to undertake responsibilities which might arise from it despite all his priestly, institutional and other obligations. Olivier Theriot was the second highest ranking person among the Acadian people beside Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil during the founding of the new Acadia Nouvelle Acadie and was the chief of the Lafourche des Chetimache Bayou Acadians. This status did not originate with Olivier Theriot but rather relates to the high status of the Theriot clan as well as Olivier’s personal qualities.
His funeral mass today at St. Mary Magdalen Church and it was at the same church that he presided over my wedding to Michelle Denise Broussard nearly 26 years ago. Although that marriage was long ago ended in civil divorce and ecclesiastically annulled, Michelle was still the person I have been closest to in my life and thus it was a very important occasion for me. Fr. Theriot was not a close friend but was also a friend and confidant and a major supporter of Vermilion Catholic High School where I have many associations and ties over the years and was a supporter of the local community in many manifestations. I seldom spoke with him in recent years but I will remember him for as long as I am remembering things. His commitment to causes he believes in continues in death. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to Vermilion Catholic High School where a scholarship endowment will be established in his memory
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette on June 1, 1957 and served as Associate Pastor in the parishes of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette and St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville, two of the more prestigious assignments in our local church. Upon elevation to the role of pastor he never flinched or shirked his duty, Fr. Theriot devotedly served as Pastor of the parishes of St. Mary of the Lake, Big Lake; Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Coteau; St. Anne, Cow Island; St. Pius X, Lafayette. His final assignment was as Pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Abbeville from which he retired in 2002. Fr. Theriot remained in the Abbeville community from the time of his retirement where he continued to remain active in his priestly ministry in St. Mary Magdalen Parish as well as serving a Chaplain for the Vermilion Catholic Athletic Department.
He is survived by his brother, Gordon R. Theriot of Kenner, Louisiana; his brother-in-law, Kenneth B. Lowe of Kansas City, Missouri; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Fr. Theriot was certainly a real and important presence in my life. In fact, I grew up a close friend and associate of one of his first cousins, Kay Piazza Listi (Mrs. Vince Listi) and her immediate family. To a lesser degree I knew and know all of the family into which she was born and my mother’s family was always associated with them in a variety of ways. I attended some of the well attended visitation held on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at Vincent Funeral Home of Abbeville from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. arriving a bit before the start of the Vigil Service and Rosary at 7:00 p.m. and leaving shortly afterwards. I was not able to attend the visitation at St. Mary Magdalen Church on Friday, November 15, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. until the time of the Funeral Mass at 10:00 or the rosary prayed at St. Mary Magdalen Church on Friday morning at 8:15 a.m. led by the students and staff of Vermilion Catholic High School. Vermilion Catholic was much in evidence at the rosary I did attend. Nor did I attend the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church. But I am joined to these observances honoring the life and praying for the repose of the soul of Father Donald C. Theriot, who died at 81 a week short of his 82d birthday passing away instead on my mother’s 70th birthday –Wednesday, November 13, 2013. He finished a long struggle with various sicknesses and infirmities at the Louisiana Extended Care Hospital of Lafayette.
He should be laid to rest as I type these words in a ceremony at St. Paul Cemetery after the Most Rev. Michael Jarrell, Bishop of Lafayette, celebrates the Funeral Mass as I am finish typing these words. St. Mary Magdalen’s pastor Rev. William C. Blanda who spoke at and lead the service last night should be serving as Master of Ceremonies and the Rev. Louis Richard and Abbeville man also present and involved in funeral details is to be preaching the funeral homily.
May he rest in peace and his legacy long be assured. He was a quietly extraordinary man.