By Jerry Duggan
As a deacon at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Grand Coteau, La., David Menard puts his heart into his ministry. He has made this his focus since receiving such advice from esteemed Jesuit and retreat director Fr. Joseph Tetlow, SJ, several years ago.
“I can say certain things and do certain things, but if my heart isn’t in it, what’s the point?” Menard asked rhetorically.
A lifelong Catholic, Menard was an active parishioner at St. John Berchmans Catholic Church in a neighboring town until he decided to give a new place of worship a try.
Menard already had an awareness of Ignatian Spirituality, thanks in large part to Fr. Tetlow.
“I had never been part of a Jesuit parish before, but I knew some of what they were about, and, since joining St. Charles Borromeo three years ago, the positive associations I had with them before have been confirmed,” Menard said.
Shortly after joining the parish, Menard was ordained a deacon, a calling he is quick to acknowledge would not have been possible without the support of his wife.
“My wife has been so supportive throughout the formation process, and open to accompanying me along my faith journey,” Menard said.
Menard has his fingerprints all over the close-knit parish community.
His days start with morning prayer, which is livestreamed on the parish’s YouTube channel five days a week. He helps administer benediction and adoration, which take place every Friday. He also assists at Sunday Masses, special celebrations (such as Holy Week services) and leads other spiritual growth opportunities, such as a recently finished Novena of Grace that was open to all parishioners.
Beyond the church building, Menard is involved with the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, which aids families in need of food in the local community. He also serves as the parish’s maintenance man – a tall task given the historic structure’s taxing physical upkeep. He also serves the community at Christ the King, a mission chapel in the region.
He views each responsibility as an additional way to serve.
“I’m here to serve this parish community, whatever it needs,” he said. “It’s important that I put my heart into everything that I do – not seeing things as tedious tasks to be completed but as opportunities to help out my parish and the broader community.”
The ministry he finds most impactful is bringing the Eucharist to homebound members of the parish. While diocesan regulations suggest the homebound be given the Eucharist once a month, Menard makes a point of emphasis to nourish them with the Body of Christ weekly.
“When I visit, these wonderful people tell me how much they look forward to receiving the Body of Christ,” he explained. “They often tell me that they avoid scheduling doctor’s appointments or other commitments on Wednesday because they don’t want to miss the opportunity to have the Eucharist.”
He describes their reaction to receiving the Eucharist as all the assurance he needs that his work is having an impact.
“I see their faces light up when they receive the Eucharist,” he said. “For them, it represents hope.”
Because of this tremendous sense of fulfillment, it is easy for Menard to follow Fr. Tetlow’s advice and truly put his heart into his work.
“Everything that I may give to this parish community, I receive much more in return in the form of grace, satisfaction and joy,” he said. “It is a real honor to be able to serve this parish community.”