LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - After 44 years in the priesthood, one Coast figure is saying goodbye. The Rev. Louis Lohan held his last mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach Sunday morning.
Lohan has been leading masses in churches across South Mississippi and even Mexico since 1971. He said over the years, he and his fellow priests throughout the diocese have become close.
"We're all together as one community, and I want to say thanks to them for support and a great life here," said Lohan.
He also says he couldn't have made it through 44 years without his faith in God and his congregations.
"I am going to miss the buzz of parish and church life and the faith of the people. You know, when you gather together and you get people of faith together, there's a whole energy there, and you can call it energy, but I believe it's the Holy Spirit and it's the presence of God," said Lohan.
Many of the families in the congregation claimed Lohan's influence and ministry touched lives all across the Coast.
Lohan baptized Krissi Amacker and her children. She said it's difficult seeing him leave.
"It's hard to think that we'll come to mass and there's no more hugs. It's a very difficult thing, and we're very happy for him. He's definitely earned his retirement," said Amacker.
Lohan didn't just have a positive influence over his congregation. His staff also benefited from his leadership.
"He's a fantastic leader, fantastic shepherd," said Lauren Hymel.
Lohan began his priesthood at Saint Thomas more than 20 years ago. Hymel has been the music minister for 13 of those years.
She knew she had to do something special for Lohan's last day of masses. So, she picked a surprise closing song; a gospel rendition of "Louie, Louie."
"He's been a tremendous gift to my family, my children. We just all love him so very dearly," said Hymel.
Lohan's first church was in Pascagoula in 1971. He will now return to Ireland for his retirement. There, he plans to spend a lot of time with friends and family.