The Catholic Commentator  

Longtime Catholic Commentator editor Laura Gatz Deavers is being remembered for her dedication to her family, to her community and, perhaps most importantly, how she exemplified her deep commitment to her Catholic faith.  

Laura Gatz Deavers

 

Deavers, who served as editor of The Catholic Commentator for 30 years, died of cancer Sept. 13 at the age of 69. Archbishop Alfred F. Hughes, retired archbishop for the Archdiocese of New Orleans who served as bishop in the Diocese of Baton Rouge from 1993-2001, celebrated a funeral Mass for Deavers at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge on Sept. 16.  

“(Deavers) lived her faith with conviction and fidelity,” Archbishop Hughes said in his eulogy.  

“Laura Deavers applied her Catholic faith to everything she did,” Bishop Robert W. Muench said in a statement. “She was a superb editor of The Catholic Commentator and a highly qualified journalist and photographer who showed her love for the people of the Diocese of Baton Rouge by telling their stories so that all who read the paper might find deeper meaning in their lives. She was a model for all who aspire to excellence in life and in their chosen vocations. She was dearly loved, and will be dearly missed.”  

Deavers, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy and LSU, was hired by Bishop Stanley J. Ott and then-vicar general Father John Carville to become editor of The Catholic Commentator. Father Carville said Deavers was hired because of the managerial skills she displayed in a previous position as well as her background in technology and print.  

“We got the right person for all of those tasks,” he said. “She worked well with me and learned quickly the in’s and out’s of publishing a newspaper that also represented all of the departments of the diocese.”  

Father Carville noted the diocese was facing several challenges at the time of her hiring but was able to use the paper as a tool of unification. Deavers changed the paper’s content to focus more on local content, bringing to life the people in the pews.  

“I always admired her faith, which was strong even after seeing all the inner workings of the diocese, warts and all,” Father Carville said. “She suffered a lot from the unexpected death of her husband (Bob).  But she had spunk and trust in God.”  

Archbishop Hughes drew a chuckle during the funeral when he remembered how Deavers could turn any menial excursion into an adventure. But it was testimony to her passion for life and a diocese she so loved.  

“Laura Gatz was an adventurer,” the archbishop said, adding that her inner strength became clear in her spearheading a challenging, unifying force based on local stories (in The Catholic Commentator). “Father Carville became both a valued mentor and friend in this effort.”  

Archbishop Hughes said he admired the courage and faith Deavers displayed after the loss of her husband and in the raising and educating of her daughter, Margaret.  

Much more than a newspaper editor, however, Deavers will also be remembered for her charitable and caring nature, so evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when she welcomed the family of Clarion Herald editor Peter Finney into her home. Months later, she opened her doors to Morris LeBleu, communications director for the Diocese of Lake Charles, in the wake of Hurricane Rita.  

She also provided temporary offices for the Clarion Herald and LeBleu at the Catholic Life Center.  

Remarkably, even as she was entering into the final stages of her life, she reached out once again to LeBleu and his family as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Lake Charles.  

“The depth of Laura’s faith revealed itself in her final adventure in life,” Archbishop Hughes said, revealing that following her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer the two began to engage in periodic phone conversations.  

“Laura approached her final journey, again, as a true adventure,” he said. “She found new ways to listen to the Word of God, approach the mystery of redemption in daily Mass, and then, as strength ebbed away, to make acts of faith, hope, love, contrition and abandonment.”  

He said their last conversation was on Sept. 10 when they made plans for his visit the following Saturday.  

“Neither of us anticipated at that time it would be for her funeral,” Archbishop Hughes said.  

Deavers’ early career as editor of several publications took her to many cities including Atlanta, New York and Dallas, where she met her husband.  

She and Bob were married in 1977 and returned to Baton Rouge to make their home. Following her 30 years as editor of The Catholic Commentator, Deavers retired and continued to enjoy her involvement and service in many civic and cultural organizations, her travels and her loyal support of LSU sports.  

Deavers was also active in the Rotary Club and a Master Gardener.  

Deavers is survived by her daughter Ann Margaret Deavers and partners Lee and Buz Norwood of Baltimore, Maryland, her sister Charlene Reis and husband John of Bethel, Connecticut, her brother Les Gatz and wife Jean of Baton Rouge, and numerous nieces and nephews, along with many wonderful friends. Laura is preceded in death by her husband Robert (Bob) Deavers and her parents Margaret and Charles Gatz.  

Visitation was at Rabenhorst Funeral Home and interment followed at Roselawn Memorial Park.  In lieu of flowers the family is requesting memorial donations be made to St. Joseph’s Academy, 3015 Broussard Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806, The Hospice of Baton Rouge, 9063 Siegen Lane, Suite A, Baton Rouge, LA 70810 or a charity of your choice.