Reverend Kevin Badeaux
Diocese of Beaumont, Texas
Father Kevin Badeaux was born and raised in the city of Port Arthur. After being ordained in 1984 and serving in several parishes in the diocese, he was assigned pastor at St. Joseph Church in Port Arthur in 2015. He speaks fluent English and Spanish, which is useful in this parish with a long-established Italian-American community and an expanding immigrant community, primarily Hispanics.
The parish is growing mightily. When Father Kevin started as pastor just over three years ago, there were 1,150 families and 3,444 individuals. Now there are 1,881 families and 5,809 individuals. This is an increase of 64 percent in families and nearly 70 percent in individuals. These increases came with the evangelization and stewardship efforts of Father Kevin.
His leadership was especially important in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. His own home flooded and even as the church building, parish hall and religious education building were all flooded and unusable, Father Kevin deployed the parking lot and front lawn as a distribution center for supplies for all of Port Arthur. He was even able to set up a remote center for the Mexican consulate in the parking lot to help Mexican immigrants who were otherwise not have received help because of their legal status. He also joined volunteers to help clean out houses that were flooded during the storm. Hundreds were served because of his efforts.
“I’m not sure if faith leads to action, or action leads to faith,” said Father Kevin. “But when I saw my own home start to flood, I could have asked God why this is happening or complained that it was overwhelming. With my faith, I was motivated to help during the crisis.”
A parishioner, who is also the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference, gave more details about his heroism. “After all the devastation of that terrible storm, Father Kevin woke up to ankle high water. However, that didn’t stop him. As morning came, he saw that several families were leaving their homes walking in water. As helicopters picked up neighbors from their homes, he himself was rescued by boat to a nearby place,” said Nilda Ramirez. “Since the day he arrived in our parish, I knew we were in for a positive change.”
Southeast Texas suffered due to the hurricane, but the city of Port Arthur was one of the hardest hit areas. Father Kevin’s guidance during the storm and recovery process gave hope and comfort to the different communities in and outside of his parish. When St. Joseph was flooded, he collaborated with another nearby parish to be able to celebrate Mass there. This continuity was important to the spiritual life of his parishioners and kept the community together.
A deacon aspirant, Torivio Gonzalez, said that Father Kevin takes great effort in all his ministries and helps parishioners work together as a single Church. He is grateful for Father Kevin’s help in his deacon formation and is deeply inspired by him.