Pope Francis baptized 10 people from around the world during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in 2015. Here at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, we were blessed to have two baptized, Sonny and Justin Bennett, and one, Katherine “Katie” Johnson who joined us by a profession of faith and was later married to Matthew Barrois by Fr. Kyle at St. Louis Cathedral.
Austin F. “Sonny” Barrois, Jr.
As a young boy I remember going to Sunday school with my sisters. That all came to an end in 1965 after hurricane Betsy destroyed our home and community. A few years later in 1969 hurricane Camille came to town with the same results. I’m sure that is why we stopped going to church. My mother was Baptist and my father Catholic, and we weren’t baptized as children.
I was in high school when I started going to the Catholic Church (on occasion) with my girlfriend. I listened to everything that was said and after church I always had questions. It didn’t take long for everyone to realize that they needed to pay close attention in Mass because I was going to have questions. Her family is Catholic and at that time attended St. Patrick Church in Port Sulphur.
Prior to getting married I decided to become Catholic, get married in a Catholic Church and raise our children Catholic. My fiancée, Ellen Dobson, and I met with Father Dennis and I began the process of becoming Catholic. I was feeling good about my decision to become Catholic until Father Dennis was replaced by another priest who did not give me the encouragement that I needed. I was 23 years old at the time. It was not until 30 years later that I made my way back to church with the help of my family and friends. I joined RCIA to prepare myself for baptism. The people I’ve met in the RCIA program will always be a part of my extended family. Reflections brought me back 30 plus years as clear as yesterday and gave me the chance to forgive those I didn’t understand in the past. The cross I bear has gotten very easy to manage. Thank you RCIA.
Note from Dolly
Sonny encouraged his co-worker and friend, David Morel to attend RCIA. David’s wife, Anne, had waited patiently for years for David to be baptized and join her in her strong Catholic faith. When his sisters were baptized, his schedule did not allow him to join them. It took Sonny’s gentle persuasion and David’s perseverance and fortitude to get the baptism accomplished. If you were at the 2016 Easter Vigil Mass, you might remember that David came for the evening in his baptismal garment and using crutches. I tried desperately to get him not to go into the baptismal pool for fear of falling. He was not going to be baptized differently than Sonny had been the year before. Sonny was prepared to go in with David, suit and all, if he needed to. What a wonderful sponsor for David.
Sonny still talks to people he encounters about how his life has been changed through baptism. He encourages others in the RCIA program. He and Ellen are on the RCIA Team and willingly share their story with others. Ellen is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Sonny and his sons, Matthew and Austin, have recently joined the Knights of Columbus.