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The Daily Iberian

Gifts from God

The Daily Iberian
September 5,

Local teen competes internationally


He knew it was a gift from God. The Rev. Thomas James was listening to the youth choir at St. Edward's Church in New Iberia, when he was particularly struck by the singing of one of his young parishioners.

"When I first heard her; I knew her voice was a gift from God," James said, referring to Michelle Hector:

"I just turned my head (toward her) because the sound was just so pure and clear."

Hector, 16, is the daughter of Debra and William Hector, Jr. of New Iberia and has been one of the soloists with the High Energy Youth Choir since 1998.


Michelle Hector, singing during choir practice at the church, placed in the top 10 of an international competition held in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

The New Iberia Senior High sophomore is also the winner of the 1999 Hal Jackson Talented Teen Louisiana Competition recently held at the Heymann Performing Arts and Convention Center, where she earned a chance to advance in competition.

Her winning song, "Because You Love Me," by Celine Dion, allowed her the opportunity to compete in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, July 30-31 in an international competition with 30 other singers from around the world.

Accompanied by her mother, her uncle Johnny Hector, who sponsored the trip and other family members, she sang a rendition of "Amazing Grace," arranged by John Reedom, music minister at St. Edward's Church. She placed in the top 10.

She was 12 years old when she began singing with United Voices, a non-denominational choir in Alexandria, and has been singing with High Energy since February 1998.

"Michelle has just always loved to sing," said her mother. "Even when she was little, she would sing so much, her brothers would tell me, 'Mom, make her stop singing!'"

"I would sing 'Greatest Love of All' by Whitney Houston and get pretty loud," Hector says, laughing.

"Now I like Lauren Hill," Hector says, "she's my inspiration. She's unique."

Hector says her friend Pam Gardner gave her a quote she uses to inspire her to be her best: 'If my determination to succeed is strong enough, failure will never over take me.'



Members of the High Energy choir of St. Edward's Catholic Church include:


Brian Greene, keyboard

Terrell Mouton, singer

Adam Broussard, singer

Morrell Broussard, Jr., singer.

Nancy Antoine, singer

Danelle George, singer.

Michelle Hector, singer.

Brandi Broussard, singer

Taesia Shello, singer.

Heidi Jacquet, singer.

Michelle Reedom, singer.

Ashley Brooks, singer.

Kaylin Senegal, singer.

Philip Antoine, singer.

Christopher Antoine, singer.

Fallon Douglas, singer.

Greg Brooks, drums.

'High Energy' making a voice for itself


'The Whole choir has given much, not only to St. Edward's, but to the whole community."

Rev. Thomas James
St. Edward's Church

High Energy is the name of the youth choir at St. Edward's Catholic Church and also the style of contemporary gospel music sung by this enthusiastic group of young people.

Led by their choir director, Morrel Broussard, and motivated by music minister John Reedom, these high school kids are making a voice for themselves.

"We are about 25 children in this group, ages 12 to 17," said Broussard, during their weekly practice section. "We (sing) the type of songs you hear on contemporary gospel radio."

Broussard, a supervisor at Martin Mills in St. Martinville, organized the youth choir about a year and a half ago.

"The ones we try to reach are the young people," he said.

The High Energy Youth Choir practices for two and a half hours every week, backed up by electric guitars, keyboards, electric and acoustic drum kits, piano and mixer board.

"Whatever they have in a sound studio, we have here," Reedom said.

"These are professional musicians," said Reedom, an adjunct instructor of sociology at Southwest Louisiana Community College.

During Tuesday night choir practice, a quartet of teen girls each rehearsed a solo as part of the gospel song "Eye on the Sparrow."

"All the kids do solo," Reedom said, "all the time. I bring out the best that is inside them."

Rev. Thomas James of St. Edward's Church said he is impressed by the singing of his young choir.

"The whole choir has given much, not only to St. Edward's, but to the whole community," said Rev. James, "They have an opportunity to be of service to others."

"These are a great bunch of kids," Broussard said, "We see them as an inspiration to the younger kids.

"Sweet Inspiration is our younger choir, with kindergarten to 12-year-olds," Broussard said.

The younger choir, led by director Joseph Rochelle, practices on Fridays.

"They (the singers in Sweet Inspiration) look forward to joining the older choir," Broussard said, "To them, it's like graduating."

High Energy also travels to the surrounding churches to sing during services as special guests.

"We have been to all the churches in the area, Loreauville, Jeanerette, Morbihan," said Broussard, "we've (also) been to St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Houston."

High Energy will also be performing at the Back To School Gospel Explosion at Anderson Middle School on Sept. 12.

The choir performs at St. Edward's Church, 175 Ambassador W. LeMelle Drive, in New Iberia on alternating Sundays. It will be performing today during the 11 a.m. mass.

High Energy singers, from left, Teasia Shello, Brandi Broussard, Michelle Hector, Danelle George and Nancy Antoine, rehearse in weekly choir practice at St. Edward's Catholic Church.

The Daily Iberian
November 6,










The Daily Iberian
December 11,

Pastor's Corner

Death, although a mystery, is only an end to earthly pilgrimage

Rev. Sebastian Myladiyil

Every copy of The Daily Iberian that goes to reader's homes brings along with it a column called "Obituaries." It certainly gives specific information about the dead person and his or her family. And then what?

I wonder, beyond this empirical information, what deeper spiritual values this can offer to humankind? If this column makes all of us a bit more concerned about life, rather than death; hope, rather than suffering, I believe it would serve its purpose better perhaps if it is not really thought about.

The stark fact of human life is death. No matter whatever may be the achievement of individuals, when death confronts them, they have no other choice but to surrender. At this phase of human life, the humanity realizes the painful fact of how helpless and fragile it is.

Death is a fact of life, both inevitable and universal, and there is no avoiding it. It is a fact that threatens life absolutely, not only at the final moment of death, but at the beginning.

Death is a mystery. However, it has something beautiful to contribute to contribute to our life, though it sounds paradoxical. Death gives life its radical uncertainty, final seriousness and ultimate mystery. The very thought of death that occasionally flashes across our mind gives our life a sense of urgency and ultimateness. "The time is limited," we are forced to think, "thus what I do or do not do makes a difference." I think this idea enables many to live their life with a sense of accountability.

According to Christian understanding, death is only an end of the early pilgrimage. This must make Christians take life on earth more seriously, and make it useful and meaningful, not only for themselves but for their neighbors. The Christian understanding and experience of death must be considered in the light of the hope we have in Christ's resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus, which is the foundation of our Christian faith, was not a personal privilege or reward for Jesus, but an act of God for us and for our salvation. Jesus' resurrection is God's promise to us. This is why Paul says Jesus is the first born of many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29) and why he insisted Christian faith stands or falls with Christ's resurrection (I Corinthians 15:12-19).

The resurrection of Jesus and our participation in it (2 Corinthians 4:14) signifies rising to a new life or new creation by fulfilling the work of God in spite of hardships, oppression, suffering or even death. Belief in the Risen Lord means committing ourselves to do the work of Christ.

The reward will be acceptance and approval by God. Remember, when the hungry have food, and the oppressed are liberated and justice is given to the exploited, there Jesus is risen and the resurrection of Jesus continues to be a present-day reality, and death no longer a frightening reality but something to look forward to with hope.

Rev. Sebastian Myladiyil is associate pastor of St. Edward Church

Pastor's Corner

Advent is the countdown time for celebration of Christmas

Rev. Sebastian Myladiyil

I said, "Let this Christmas celebration be grand!" So I pruned the hedges and painted the house.
Letters and greeting cards I remembered to send.
I bought new garment and shoes.
I prayed and fasted for a day,
Lest my celebration be a secular one.
That is how I prepared for His Birthday
Not a single liturgical ritual and duty was left undone.
But on Christmas day ... something was lacking!
Everything was empty and dry!
That peace was missing!
What was the reason?
I hunted for the answer.
There was nothing wrong with the season!
I met Jesus outside the gate and got the answer:
In the din and dazzle, hustle and bustle
The message of peace was lost.
In my eagerness to make the celebration unique
I'd forgotten to invite Jesus to feast!

(A solitary Soliloquy: Tracy)

Advent is the countdown time for the celebration of Christmas. In varied ways, preparations will be made to make Christmas a great day. Certainly time, energy, talent and money would be spent in great measure to make the celebration wonderful and exciting. However, what effort is made to make the celebration really meaningful?

Has this not been our experience that scores of Christmases have passed without leaving behind the imprints of change, conversion and reconciliation in our lives? Have we not experienced a certain amount of emptiness and dryness at the end of Christmas day?

If we did, then the soliloquy given above becomes our own.

We certainly do not want to make the same mistakes over again. Hence we shall invite Jesus at the beginning of this Advent season itself. We need to remind ourselves that all the external celebration only have relative significance to the fact of the birth of Christ.

Advent calls us to wait for the Lord and to love in a spirit of expectation and hope Jesus is going to be born anew in the hearts of those who hope in His coming.

During the season of Advent we are called to experience once more a deep longing for God's coming into our lives.

That is why most of the liturgical readings of Advent are taken from the prophets, the men of God, who stirred up the hope of Israel for the coming of the Savior. The words of these prophets refer primarily to the saving intervention of God, culminating with the coming of Christ into the world which took place 2000 years ago.

But they can still express our own longing for Christ: "Look, your God is coming ... He is coming to save you." (Isaiah 35:4)

Everyone today stands in need of a powerful encounter with God that can affect desirable conversion and healing of all spiritual lethargy. If our hearts are filled with a real desire to welcome Jesus into our lives and to be healed of our spiritual illnesses, He will not fail to answer our longing.

As we wait for the Lord's coming at Christmas, let us not miss the Lord who comes to us in varied ways and forms.

Keeping our eyes, ears and above all hearts open, let us make efforts to encounter Him in our daily lives. Jesus asks us to "be awake and vigilant." (Mark 13:33)

If we persevere in our efforts at prayer and penance during this season of Advent, we will see our hope fulfilled at Christmas. Jesus will heal us. He will come and dwell in our hearts in a way that we might never have experienced before.

Then Christmas will really be a joyful and meaningful celebration for us, because we will experience in a new way the presence of the Lord in our lives.

The Daily Iberian
December 18,

James celebrates anniversary


Church members of St. Edward's Catholic Church will celebrate the 30th anniversary of priesthood of their pastor, the Very Rev. Thomas James, during a special Mass today at 4:30 p.m.

A native of St. Martinville, James began his career as a priest when he joined the religious order of the Society of the Divine Word in 1969. For 20 years, he worked as an educator at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, where he later became principal, before returning home to Louisiana in 1989.

Upon returning, James served at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Lafayette before becoming pastor of St Edward/St. Jude Catholic Church in 1990. James serves as Episcopal Vicar for the Diocese of Lafayette.

In a written release, James spoke of his philosophy of the priesthood. "God and grace are the foundations of priestly life and ministry," he said.

"A sensitive priest is able to get into the issues people deal with in their lives and see the grace of God working at the same time."

A reception will follow today's Mass. The public is invited to attend.

The St. Edward/St. Jude community, as we try to meet the challenges of the Gospel values of justice and peace, we pray that God leads us to live two of his most precious gifts.

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