Abbeville loses beloved priest
Today, Vermilion Parish is saddened to learn Fr. Donald Theriot, 81, passed away of an illness Wednesday morning at a local hospital.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Vincent’s Funeral Home in Abbeville. A vigil service will be held Thursday 5-10 p.m. at the funeral home.
Fr. Theriot will lie in St. Mary Magdalen Church Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., with funeral services at 10 a.m.
He will be brought to the St. Paul’s Cemetery from St. Mary Magdalen Church.
Fr. Theriot was ordained as a priest in 1957 and retired in 2002.
He preached throughout Acadiana, but spent most of his career at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.
Fr. William Blanda replaced Fr. Theriot at St. Mary Magdalen in 2002.
“It is with profound sadness that the St. Mary Magdalen community mourns the death of our beloved former pastor, Father Donald Theriot,” said Fr. Blanda. “Father Theriot’s priestly life was an example of exemplary service and pastoral care to the people of our church community.”
Fr. Blanda added, “As pastor of St. Mary Magdalen, I am personally grateful for Fr. Theriot’s good work and leadership. Upon my arrival in Abbeville in 2002, I inherited a parish which is filled with faith, devotion and vibrancy. For the past 12 years, Fr. Theriot has been such an incredibly good friend, as we have shared so many good times of fraternal support and friendship.”
Fr. Theriot, who is from Gueydan, has been associated with Vermilion Catholic since the school started. He has a true passion for the school’s athletic program.
Despite being ill this season, Fr. Theriot went to football games and sat along sidelines in his folding chair. Recently the school named the school’s field house after Fr. Theriot.
Fr. Theriot loved basketball as well. For years he sat in a special chair next to the visitor’s bench to watch the game. Today, the corner is marked “Fr. T’s corner” in order to reserve the place for Fr. Theriot.
He may have retired from preaching a few years ago, but that never stopped him from being on the sidelines of the football game.
Long-time VC teacher and coach Kim Guidry has a special place in her heart for Fr. Theriot.
“Today is a sad day for Vermilion Catholic. We lost a true friend today who played a big part in the VC Family,” Guidry said. “Father Theriot was a kind, loving and caring priest that spent many years at St. Mary Magdalen, whether as an Associate Pastor, Chancellor, or School Chaplain. During those years he was very involved with Catholic Education at Vermilion Catholic.
“Sometimes death leaves a heavy heart that is hard to heal but love leaves a memory that no one can steal,” she added. “‘Father T’ leaves many fond memories that were shared by the VC Family past and present, and will be remembered for many years to come. Rest in peace, Father T.”
For VC seniors Connor Menard and Brennan Gallet, not seeing Fr. Theriot in his lawn chair will take a bit of getting used to.
“Fr. Theriot meant a lot to me,” said Gallet, who is also an altar server for St. Mary Magdalen Church. “He was probably our biggest supporter. He was at every practice and every game. It always meant a lot to have him here.
“It is sad to see him go.”
Menard added, “He always had a love for VC. Every time I talked to Fr. Theriot, it was always something about sports.”
Both players said it will seem different not looking behind and seeing Fr. Theriot sitting in his chair.
Brady Broussard Jr., a 1977 VC graduate, added, “Fr. Donald Theriot’s service in Abbeville at both St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church and Vermilion Catholic High School transcended generations. Even in his recent emeritus status, Fr. Theriot was always there for his church and school.
“As a positive and stabilizing force, he will be missed and his love for our community and children will never be forgotten.”
Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza, a Vermilion Catholic alum, said Theriot was one of a kind for both the school and area.
“Father Theriot certainly had a love for athletics and Vermilion Catholic,” Piazza said Wednesday afternoon. “He was an icon in the Abbeville Catholic community.”
Piazza’s time with Theriot goes back to day one.
“He and I have a unique relationship,” Piazza said. “I was the first child he ever baptized. He often joked with my family that he was unsure that he preformed the ceremony correctly and threatened to do it again. He was very close to my mother, his “Aunt Pete” and spent many of the major holidays at our table side.
“He was very close to my two children and will be greatly missed by many of the athletic alumni of Vermilion Catholic.