Father Louis A. “Doc” Poché, SJ, died Feb. 7, 2017 at the Jesuit retirement community in Grand Coteau, La. He was 91 years old, a Jesuit for 74 years and a priest for 61 years.
Known for his charity and his care for others, especially the sick and aged, his life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at St. Charles College Chapel in Grand Coteau, with a one-hour visitation beforehand. Burial will be at the Jesuit Cemetery at St. Charles College, Grand Coteau.
He was born at Welham Plantation in Hester, La. on April 17,1925, one of eight sons of Louis Aristée Poché and Lydia Keller Poché. He grew up in Convent, La., bilingual in French and English. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers Raymond and Anthony Poché. He is survived by his brothers Leon, James, Neal, Jay and John, as well as a large extended family.
While a student at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, he began to envision himself as a Jesuit. Following graduation, he entered the Society of Jesus on August 14, 1942 at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau. He professed First Vows in 1944 and was ordained to the priesthood at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., on June 14, 1955.
Fr. Poché had a varied ministry, including teaching high school, university chaplaincy, retreat ministry, and pastoral work—nearly all within a two-hour drive of his birthplace. He taught theology for a year at Loyola University in New Orleans, and he taught on two occasions at Jesuit College Preparatory in Dallas. In 1960, he moved back to Loyola New Orleans, where he fulfilled many roles at various times: theology teacher, chaplain of the pharmacy school, chaplain of the music school and university chaplain.
After finishing at Loyola, Fr. Poché felt a call to work in support of diocesan priests, so he joined some fellow Jesuits in offering a New Orleans based “Clergy and Religious Counselling Service.” After three years, he was assigned to serve as associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in New Orleans (1976-78). In 1978, he began what would be 13 years in Grand Coteau, as assistant pastor at St. Charles Church (1978-79), director at Our Lady of the Oaks (1979-85), superior and director at St. Charles College (1985-87) and pastor at St. Charles Church (1987-91).
In 1991, he was assigned to serve as superior of Ignatius Residence for older Jesuits in New Orleans, where he would stay for five years. He later said his work at Ignatius Residence was the most rewarding ministry that he had ever done.
He then spent nine years (1998-2007) in pastoral ministry in his old neighborhood, serving the River Road Parishes in the Baton Rouge Diocese. In 2007, he became a resident at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center, with the mission of praying for the Church and Society. He moved to St. Alphonsus Rodríguez Pavilion, the Jesuit retirement community, in December 2016.
A humble man, Fr. Poché was unassuming, careful and discerning. The word “thoughtful” applied to him in all its meanings, whether it was remembering to bring a candy bar as a Christmas gift for the server at his 6 a.m. Mass or deciding a matter of greater consequence in one of his ministries.
He studied humanities at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau and philosophy at Woodstock College in Woodstock, Md., earning a bachelor’s degree in classics (1948) and a master’s degree in education (1950). He studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas. He later earned a master’s degree in theology at the University of San Francisco in San Francisco.
We remember with gratitude all that God has done through his life of service to God and God's people.