The Rev. Jerome LeDoux's Personal Reflections of Most Rev. Dominic Carmon
LeDoux: Heaven Claims Another Gentleman
After a leisurely drive from Holy Ghost Church in Opelousas to New Orleans, Pastor Lambert Lein spied a side entrance to Notre Dame Seminary and turned in with Associate Pastor Rofinus Jas and me. A handy parking slot was waiting for us.
Entering the serene seminary chapel, we immediately saw the body of Bishop Dominic Carmon, SVD lying in state up front. Dominic’s brother Clifford and his wife Ann greeted us in the rear, while his sister, Vercie Carmon Johnson, was farther up.
TRANSFIXED IN MEDITATION
Cordoned off with a thick, soft decorative rope, the mortal remains of Bishop Carmon lay in a fully open coffin, attired in beautiful white vestments and miter with a semi-dark, multicolored border. Seeing my fixed gaze, an usher asked, “Do you want to get closer to the body?” At my nod, she pulled back a bit of the rope.
With a deep sigh, I studied Dominic’s body from miter to shoes. Laying my right hand on his hands that clutched a gleaming black rosary, and placing my left hand on his forehead, I stood there transfixed in meditation for some minutes.
In bold relief, my mind drifted back to Saint Augustine Seminary in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, in September 1946 when I met a freshman outside the seminary chapel, where the breezeway now stands on the west side.
“I’m Jerome LeDoux,” I offered. “I’m Dominic Carmon from Frilot Cove, Louisiana,” came the response.
MR. BIG STUFF?
I simply exploded in laughter. “Frilot Cove? Where on Earth is Frilot Cove and who in the world would come from there?”
Gentle Dominic just smiled quietly, no doubt muttering to himself that this guy was going to take him on a long, rough ride.
I was entering my senior year and was brash enough to think I was Mr. Big Stuff.
Dominic never changed from the country boy mystique of Frilot Cove to the city-slicker persona of big-town people. He had a charm that grew only better with the passage of time. No city-slicker could hold a candle to the man he became.
Allow me to quote Mrs. Sandra Johnson Gordon, a dear friend of Dominic’s, “Faithful, Prayerful, Peaceful, Confident, he Loved and worked for the people. As a spokesman, he was Humble, Respected, Devout, Sincere, Truthful. This is the Bishop Carmon I knew and LOVED!!!!”
SILVER JUBILEE IN 1985
My mind drifted back to Dominic’s priestly silver jubilee on Feb. 2, 1985.
He had invited me to speak at his anniversary Mass in Opelousas. Would you believe that, preceded by rain, a Siberian Express cold front dropped the temperature to 9 degrees, blanketing the whole region with ice and shutting down all intercity ground travel in the entire region?
Nevertheless, determined to reach Dominic, I chartered a Cessna 210 to fly me and a young SVD priest from Baton Rouge, where I was at Saint Paul Church, to the municipal airport in Opelousas. Sight unseen, the universal sheet of ice covered everything everywhere we craned our heads from the airplane.
CELEBRATED IN STYLE
At the Mass, I began the sermon with Romans 8:35, “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish or distress… or peril?”
And what will separate us from Father Dominic Carmon? Will peril or bitter cold and ice, impassable roads and overpasses? Thus, with many smiles we shrugged off the chill and celebrated Dominic’s anniversary in style. Our waiting pilot flew us back right after the Mass.
My mind returned to Nov. 16, 2018. Before I left Dominic’s body, his sister Vercie’s husband Amos approached me and shared, “When the doctor told Bishop Carmon, ‘There’s nothing more that I can do for you with your heart beating at 5 percent and your kidneys shutting down,’ he answered, ‘C’est la vie!’ He told the Archbishop et al Friday, ‘I will die on Sunday.’” And so it came to pass at 11:53 a.m.
Soon after his ordination, Dominic was sent to serve in Wewak, Papua, New Guinea to minister to six churches and 21 villages. Those seven years were the happiest of his life, reminding him of his childhood on the farm where they had no electricity or running water.
THE CANCER HAD VANISHED
While vacationing in Chicago and planning to return to Wewak, his superior reassigned him to Saint Elizabeth where he served from 1969-1988. He was then assigned to serve a divided Holy Ghost Church in Opelousas until Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
That appointment came despite a near lethal bout with cancer in 1990 when the doctor told Dominic that he might not live to Easter. Dominic was given a medal of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and parishioners began a novena to her, asking that he be healed. After about three weeks of treatment, changes began in his body that the doctors did not understand. The cancer vanished, and even doctors said “Miracle!”
Dominic served God and others until Nov. 11, 32 days before turning 88.