ST. MARTINVILLE – A man of God with a special appreciation for history, Monsignor Douglas Courville said he could not be happier with his new assignment as pastor of St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church in St. Martinville.
A graduate of St. Joseph’s Seminary College and Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans before his ordination in 1976, Courville served in Lafayette, New Iberia and Erath before finally returning to his home parish of St. Martin.
Visiting with Courville in his rectory next door to the church founded in 1765, Courville said he could not be in a better place, to return home to St. Martin Parish after spending years in Lafayette.
Calling the parish the heart of Roman Catholicism in Acadiana, Courville, a native of Cecilia, said he feels very comfortable in the new parish and his new home surroundings.
He spends his free time searching out and preserving historical artifacts of the church he has found in old nooks and crannies of the ancient home, everything from keys to vestments.
“I love St. Martinville, its people and its charming history,” he said. “It is wonderful to be in a parish that is 243 years old. The people here are wonderful, and when the bishop asked me to come here, I was glad to come to the Mother Church of the Acadians. I also remember the strong legacy and struggles of the priests who were here before me who are now buried under the sanctuary. Their legacy means a great deal to me.”
Courville said that in the long history of St. Martin de Tours, there have only been 27 pastors – including himself – and he expressed the hope his legacy and history of care to the church and its parishioners will be as strong as those who came before him.
Speaking of his own history, Courville said he wanted to be a priest as long as he could remember, and entered the seminary as a freshman in high school and never looked back.
“I’m glad I didn’t take my mother’s advice and go to law school,” he said jokingly. “(The priesthood) is a wonderful life and I couldn’t be happy doing anything else.”
There was a time, however, when Courville was not happy and couldn’t imagine ever being so again. He looks back with humor on his own mid-life crisis, when he decided to join a monastery. Courville said these are the time God is most at work in our lives.
“I believe it is all in His hands,” the priest said. “At that time, I felt like my life hit a brick wall, but it forced me to go in another direction and I realized God’s hand was at work especially during those times. Our life is in God’s providence and He provides.”