The community gives thanks to retiring Father Louis Lohan - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

The community gives thanks to retiring Father Louis Lohan

Father Louis Lohan, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach, greets friends during his retirement reception on Thursday. (Photo source: WLOX) Father Louis Lohan, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach, greets friends during his retirement reception on Thursday. (Photo source: WLOX)
The hundreds of people expected at Father Louis Lohan's retirement reception on Wednesday began looking like thousands. (Photo source: WLOX) The hundreds of people expected at Father Louis Lohan's retirement reception on Wednesday began looking like thousands. (Photo source: WLOX)

The line kept growing.

And growing.

And growing.

Hundreds were expected at Father Louis Lohan's reception at St. Thomas Catholic Church to send him off into retirement, but it started looking like thousands. They included public officials and many who weren't even members of his parish.

There's a reason. For 44 years, he has changed the lives of nearly every person he's met. And, likely, he remembers every name.

Steve Doucet of Biloxi lost his son in a car wreck 11 years ago.

"I was ready to go with my son, Father Louis called me out... convinced me not to. And because of him, he saved my life."

Chet LeBlanc of Bay St. Louis has known Father Louis for 40 years, but never got as close to him as he did when his daughter died just recently.

"When he did officiate the funeral, it was a celebration," he said. "Because he remembered the good times and repeated those, but also he remembered the hard times she had and made what she went through a victory."

Father Louis' influence also reached deep into Rob Stinson's life.

"I was not Catholic when I moved here to Long Beach 12 years ago," he said. "I am Catholic now because of Father Louis. So a huge impact on me personally."

He began his service in South Mississippi at Our Lady of Victories parish in Pascagoula. He served all over South Mississippi before coming to St. Thomas in 1993.

Father Louis says he still plans to be involved in the Catholic Church in Ireland, but he will also have a garden and raise sheep and cattle on land that he was able to purchase through the generosity of those on the Coast.

His tenure here has solidified his own belief system.

"Probably the greatest gift that it is to me is I understand how important God is and church is in a secularized society. … That people are still looking for God and to be connected with God and it has been my privilege to be involved in all of that and I have truly enjoyed it."

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