Msgr. LeBourgeois was faithful, dedicated priest
Msgr. Louis P. LeBourgeois, who died July 1 at the age of 79, was a dedicated and faithful priest who loved celebrating the sacraments, especially the E u c h a r i s t , his brother-in-law, Deaco n F r a n s Labranche, said at his funeral Mass July 7 at St. Joseph Abbey Church in St. Benedict.
Deacon Labranche, who is married to Msgr. LeBourgeois’ sister Delphine, delivered both the words of remembrance before the funeral Mass and the homily. He said many people expressed endearing sentiments about the priest when they visited him in the hospital shortly before his death.
“I’m going to give you something of a litany of what people had to say about him,” Deacon Labranche said. “‘He was a friend. A good priest. You could tell him anything. He was very down to earth. He was an excellent confessor. He was a man of prayer. He had time for everyone. He loved children.’”
Even though he had respiratory problems in recent years, Msgr. LeBourgeois made use of a portable oxygen tank to celebrate Mass at St. Jane de Chantal in Abita Springs, St. Peter in Covington and Our Lady of the Lake in Mandeville in his retirement. That was a sign of his love for the Eucharist, Deacon Labranche said.
“Most of you who had him for daily Mass can identify that he was the master of the three-minute homily – maybe even two minutes,” Deacon Labranche said. “He was always well-prepared for Mass. He would always give a little vignette about the saint of the day and how we should follow that saint’s example.”
Active in retirement
“When Louis retired, it simply meant he had less administrative work to do and more time to be among the people and celebrate the sacraments in so many different parishes,” said Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who celebrated the funeral Mass. “We give thanks for his priestly ministry, and we are mindful of the many hearts he has touched.”
Msgr. LeBourgeois’ vocation came early in his life, Deacon Labranche said. He was a student at Our Lady of the Rosary School in New Orleans when he arranged the dinner table at home into an altar and had his sisters as altar servers.
“They didn’t have female altar servers until Vatican II, so Louis was ahead of his time,” Deacon Labranche said.
Msgr. LeBourgeois celebrated Mass even a few days before his death.
“He was very faithful to his Divine Office every day and to saying the rosary,” Deacon Labranche said. “He was truly a man of prayer. ‘Every tongue shall give praise to God,’ and he did.”
In choosing John 14:1-6 for his Gospel reading – “Do not let your hearts be troubled … I am going to prepare a place for you” – Msgr. LeBourgeois was “very definitely speaking to each one of us,” Deacon Labranche said.
“The Lord took him at the appointed time,” he said. “We do not know the day nor the hour, so it behooves us to always be ready, lest we be caught short when Jesus returns.”
Had three pastorates
Msgr. LeBourgeois attended St. Joseph Seminary College and Notre Dame Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1961. He served as parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo in Destrehan and St. Matthew the Apostle in River Ridge and later served as administrator at St. Agnes in Jefferson and as co-pastor at St. Matthew.
He was pastor of St. Peter in Reserve and St. Christopher the Martyr in Metairie. He also was a judge and defender of the bond for the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal, and he served as chaplain of the Archbishop John W. Shaw Council No. 2878 of the Knights of Columbus and the Jefferson Parish Fire Department.
Msgr. LeBourgeois is survived by his two sisters – Marguerite Jones and Delphine Labranche (Frans) – 17 nieces andnephews and many great nieces and nephews. He was buried privately. The LeBourgeois family asked for donations to be made in his name to St. Joseph Abbey.