Fr. Blake Dubroc, the Marksville native, is pictured here standing in the choir loft of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Ville Platte. Pictured behind him is the mosaic of the Sacred Heart appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that reminds Fr. Dubroc of the many Catholic generations who have walked through the church’s doors. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
A complete Catholic experience
In the Judeo-Christian faith, the number seven is known as one of the complete numbers. This aspect is shown through the seven sacraments, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the seven corporal works of mercy with the Catholic Church.
This idea of seven being a complete number in the Diocese of Lafayette as seven men were ordained to the priesthood during the diocese’s centennial celebration. These men became known as the Centennial Seven.
“It’s a blessing because the group of men that I’ve been ordained with is just amazing,” said Fr. Blake Dubroc who is the new parochial vicar of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Ville Platte. “They’re fantastic, and it’s just a solid group of young men that are really on fire to spread the Gospel and to spread the News. To be part of something like that is really cool.”
As far as the term “Centennial Seven,” it was Dubroc who actually came up with the idea. “I told the bishop about it at one of our retreat days,” he said. “It’s a great honor to be part of it, and Bishop Emeritus (Michael) Jarrell had brought it up two years ago that it would be great to see seven young men get ordained to the priesthood during our 100th celebration.”
Being ordained as part of the centennial was never always on Fr. Dubroc’s radar. He graduated high school from Marksville High School in 2002 and attended LSU in Baton Rouge where he majored in political science. After finishing college, he went work in Shreveport before he began his own insurance business in Lafayette.
While in Lafayette, it was earthly desires that eventually led him to heavenly service. “There were a lot of factors that were weighing on my heart to becoming a priest,” he expressed. “One thing that pushed me over the edge was a faithful Catholic girl who I had fallen in love with and who drew me back to the Church. Her integrity, the dignity she showed for herself, and the honor she had for the Church drew me to that. I could see that this is something real and good. That was a major factor for me as well as beginning to say the Rosary on a regular basis.”
Another factor was a trip with eight young adults to Madrid, Spain, for the World Youth Day in 2010. “There were about 2.5 million Catholics in adoration in this silent moment adoring Christ, and it had a powerful profound impact,” said Fr. Dubroc. “I said that I couldn’t run anymore because something is real and that this reality was drawing me to the seminary. It was calling me to discern the life of a priest.”
“So, I came back and, two weeks later, broke up with the young girl whom I was about to be engaged to. I said that I had to give this a real shot if I’m ever going to have this peace about me. I would always think about it if I never went check it out.”
After seven years in the seminary, the time for Fr. Dubroc’s ordination came along this June. He described the event as being surreal. “There was a lot of things that I thought I would be worried about like all of the moving parts,” he explained. “But, we prayed a lot before hand, and all of the Centennial Seven got together and prayed a Holy Hour together. That really brought this sense of tranquility.”
Fr. Dubroc, after being ordained, immediately saw how the event filled him with the Lord’s divine grace and divine priesthood. “It really changed how I felt and thought about things,” he said. “I didn’t think that was going to happen, but things changed about who I was because I laid my life down on that marble in the cathedral.”
Before coming to Sacred Heart in Ville Platte, Fr. Dubroc said he always had a connection to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “I thought my ordination was going to be on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus because the feast day was on June 23 last year,” he said. “I got a lot of my friends and family to begin praying a Sacred Heart Novena throughout the year. But, I forgot that it was a moveable feast and realized halfway through the year that the feast day was on June 8 this year and not on the day of my ordination.”
He continued, “It’s as if the Lord was preparing me all this time to come to His Sacred Heart and to pour out His Sacred Heart, so it’s all unique.”
For Fr. Dubroc, the Sacred Heart is evidence that the Lord is real. “Just as if we have beating hearts, He literally brought His beating heart to us and to pour out to us,” he said. “We use the heart as the core of the person, so God Himself poured out the core of who He is, which is love and mercy, through his son’s beating heart.”
While gazing upon the mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that is hung on the back wall of the sanctuary, Fr. Dubroc is reminded of this reality and is also reminded of those who have come before him.
“When I look at it in Sacred Heart Church,” he stated, “I think of all the people that have come through Ville Platte who have also gazed upon that and prayed with that and have been inspired by that image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s not just me who walks in that church, it’s the generations of people that have walked through that church. That means more to me than my particular devotion to it.”
Fr. Dubroc is also assigned as parochial vicar to Sacred Heart’s mission in Belaire Cove and to the parish of St. Joseph. He said that this makes his job a little daunting because “it spreads you thin.”
He added; however, that his assignment allows him to get a better idea of what the Catholic Church is all about. “It allows me to see the universality of the Church spread throughout a five mile strip and to see how different the culture is,” Fr. Dubroc stated. “It’s a beautiful thing to experience.
Being at Sacred Heart and at St. Joseph also allows Fr. Dubroc to feel a sense of being back home in Marksville because of the similarities in the culture. “I think being in Ville Platte is like coming home,” he explained. “One factor in that is the familiarity with the people. The people are warm, the culture is familiar, and the way of life is familiar.”
He continued, “I always wanted to go back home, but the Lord was calling me to the Diocese of Lafayette. I wanted to respond to that particular call, and I think He put me in the closest place possible.”
Fr. Dubroc will also serve Sacred Heart as religious administrator of the school. He will oversee the religious curriculum, the religious activities such as the retreats, and maintaining the chapel.
“It means bringing Jesus to the school in the way in which we need in the 21st Century,” he said. “I have a passion to form young kids and young minds to know the Church and to know Christ Himself. I’m very ept to a lot of ways in which we need to bring Christ to them, and I’m very excited for what the school year has to offer.”
Another way Fr. Dubroc will be involved with the school is through its coaching staff. “Sports has always been a part of my life and an expression of whom I am as a Christian,” he said. “I think I have a great opportunity and a great joy to bring that to the sports arena of Sacred Heart.”
Fr. Dubroc played football and baseball at Marksville High a few years after Josh Harper, who is now head football coach of Sacred Heart. “The day that our assignments could be released, I was at a wedding in Marksville, and Coach Harper was there,” he said. “I went up to him and said that our assignments came out, and he said ‘please, tell me you’re coming to Sacred Heart.’ He was excited and jumping and fist bumping because he knew I wanted to be on the field.”
Coaching duties for the parochial vicar will be mainly assisting with receivers and quarterbacks in football and assisting pitchers and middle infielders in baseball. On the diamond, he will also be charged with being a hitting coach. Fr. Dubroc described his position as being a way to “fill some of the gaps to help relieve some of the pressure for the coaches who are there.”
When looking at all of his responsibilities over the next three years as parochial vicar, he sees his first priestly assignment as being significant because “it encompasses everything.” As Fr. Dubroc said, “Here you have a school, you have multiple parishes, you have a full Cajun Catholic culture in the city, you have a cemetery, you have a church across town, and you have funeral homes. You’ve got the whole gambit of everything that is South Louisiana Catholicism. It’s a great training ground for a new priest because you get to touch on so many aspects of the life of a priest in one place.”
Although his French needs some work, Fr. Dubroc is no stranger to another distinct part of this South Louisiana Catholicism that is woven into Ville Platte’s culture. “I wanted to say from the pulpit a couple of times that I can challenge anybody to clean a squirrel,” he quipped. “I can clean a squirrel faster than anybody, but I’m a little rusty. I need to work on that a little bit.”