Father Louis Oubre, described as a gentle giant by fellow priests and parishioners he served, died Oct. 10, of an apparent heart attack.

Father Oubre, 56, who suffered from a kidney disease that forced him out of parish ministry, worked with residents of the St. Clare Nursing Home for the last few years.

“The death of Father Louis Oubre, priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, brings a void to all of us who valued his personal friendship and priestly ministry,” Bishop Robert W. Muench said. “Father Oubre was a wonderful and gifted priest who served with great care and compassion. Though he had been in declining health in recent years, his death was unexpected. We, his brother priests, are particularly grateful to God for the consolation of having him as a colleague and being with him at our annual priests retreat in Manresa until the day before his death. May he be blessed with eternal life with the Lord.”

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Father Oubre had attended the annual priests retreat at Manresa this past week and he seemed tired, said Father David Allen, who was a long time friend and a member of Father Oubre’s priest support group. He attributed that to an adjustment to Father Oubre’s dialysis treatment that began Oct. 7, he added.

He was physically a big man but he had a caring heart that made him a gentle giant. A lot of people would call him Father Teddy Bear, Father Allen said. “He had a soft spoken voice unless he wanted to be heard, then he could belt it out, especially in his Gospel voice.”

Born in New Orleans and reared in Vacherie, Father Oubre was ordained in the Diocese of Baton Rouge on May 31, 1986. He served as parochial vicar at Ascension of Our Lord Church in Donaldsonville and at St. Jean Vianney, St. Pius X and St. Louis King of France churches in Baton Rouge. After filling in as pastor for a 10-week period at St. John the Baptist Church in Zachary, he was named pastor of St. Anne Church in Morganza and eventually pastor of St. James Church in St. James. When St. James was clustered with St. Philip Church in Vacherie, he was named pastor of both.

Father Matt Lorrain, who was ordained with Father Oubre, called Father Oubre a “great person, warm, loving and outgoing. He worked equally well with blacks and whites, as well as non-Catholics.” And he loved working with the youth.

Father Allen recalled Father Oubre’s “front door bench” ministry. Father Oubre would sit on a bench or in a chair outside of the church doors and hear confessions or do spiritual counseling. People would come a little early for Mass just to spend a couple of minutes with Father Louis before Mass – sometimes for confession or spiritual advice or just to visit. He loved one-on-one ministry, Father Allen said.

Father Tom Ranzino, who served on the Liturgy, Art and Music Board with Father Oubre, said Father Oubre “learned obedience through what he suffered. During these last few years, Louis entered more deeply into the paschal mystery, discovering that while he was not cured, he was saved. Through his ministry he discovered the face of God in the faces of those to whom he ministered.”

A Mass of Christian Burial was scheduled Oct. 17 at Our Lady of Peace Church in Vacherie.