Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to announce that I have reappointed three deans for the Diocese of Alexandria.  Under canon law, the bishop has the ability to group parishes into regional areas within a diocese, according to their geographic location. These regions are called deaneries. Deans (also called Vicars Forane) are priests who act as the overseer of a deanery appointed to them by the bishop. A dean’s main task is to first and foremost provide support to the faithful and priests of his deanery, but also to act as a liaison between the activities of his deanery and the bishop.

According to canon 555 in the Code of Canon Law, a dean is “a close collaborator with the Bishop in the pastoral care of the faithful and attentive ‘elder brother’ towards the priests of the deanery…It falls to him to coordinate the common pastoral activity of the parishes, to see to it that the priests are living lives in conformity with their state and that parochial discipline is duly observed, particularly with regard to the liturgy.”

The Diocese of Alexandria has been divided into four deaneries, a structure I have retained.  I have asked the deans of three of these deaneries to remain in office for at least one additional year, and I am grateful that each has agreed to continue to serve.  During this year, I will learn more about the diocese as well as the priests and parishes in each deanery and I will have the opportunity to discuss with each dean whether he is willing and able to continue in this ministry.  Those reappointed are:

Father John O’Brien, Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Natchitoches, is reappointed Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Natchitoches Deanery.

Father John Pardue, Pastor of St. Patrick Church, Ferriday, is reappointed Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Eastern Deanery.

Father Craig Scott, Pastor of St. James Memorial Church, Alexandria, is reappointed Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Central Deanery.

In making these appointments, I want to express my gratitude to Father Rusty Rabalais who served faithfully as Dean of the Avoyelles Deanery for the past six years.  In August, Father Rabalais moved from St. Joseph Church, Marksville, in the Avoyelles Deanery to become Pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church, Alexandria, in the Central Deanery.  As a result, he was ineligible to be re-appointed Dean of the Avoyelles Deanery.  Over the next weeks, I will consult with the priests of the Avoyelles Deanery and solicit the names of those priests whom they deem qualified to serve as Dean.  In the interim, Father Scott Chemino, Vicar General and Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Bunkie, has agreed to serve as the contact/coordinator in the Avoyelles Deanery until a new dean is named.

As we remember today the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I ask Our Lady to look kindly upon the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Alexandria and to continue to intercede for us before her Divine Son.

Live Jesus in our hearts!

Most Reverend Robert W. Marshall, Jr.
Bishop of Alexandria