Special to The Commentator

Bishop Michael G. Duca joined members of Holy Family Church and School in Port Allen who had gathered for an annual fundraising event that has brought light from a moment of darkness.  

The Ava and Jacob Saucier Memorial Benefit, now in its ninth year, raised more than $33,000 for scholarships for Holy Family School with a silent auction, raffle and jambalaya on Sept. 9.  

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Alaina Saucier attended the annual scholarship fundraiser at Holy Family Church Sept. 9 in honor of her sister and brother, Ava and Jacob Saucier, who died in a house fire in 2010.  Photos provided by Annette Fitzgerald | Holy Family School 

 

On Aug. 6, 2010, Ava, 3, and Jacob, 2, along with their grandfather Mike Saucier, died in a house fire in Belle River. Grandmother Mitzi Saucier died later from injuries sustained from the tragedy.  

Ava and Jacob’s parents, Blake and Kristen Saucier, Holy Family parishioners, turned their grief into something positive for their community by starting the memorial benefit in remembrance of their children to help others. The scholarship has raised almost $200,000 in the past eight years.  

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Alyse Saucier joined the community at Holy Family Church and School in Port Allen to remember the lives of her older siblings. The Ava and Jacob Scholarship Benefit raised more than $33,000 this year.  

 

Holy Family pastor Father David Allen said Bishop Duca wanted to take part in the event after learning about its history.  >

“Part of the mission of the Office of Catholic Schools is to ‘Evangelize Hearts,’ ” Father Allen said. “This means to convert hearts to Christ and his Gospel to love.  Families can ask is this really happening in our Catholic schools.  

“It is a good question and must be answered with concrete and visible actions.”  

 After attending a standing room only Mass celebrated by Bishop Duca, hundreds flowed to the parish hall to honor Ava and Jacob Saucier.  

Father Allen said that although the day brought back memories of tragic loss, the faith of the Saucier family and relatives, the commitment of countless volunteers and the excitement of children who attend Holy Family witnessed hearts that can be touched and motivated to actions of great compassion. He said such acts are evangelizing actions that spread the Gospel of Christ to love one another.  

“As pastor, I am humbled by the loving sacrifice honoring Ava and Jacob, raising funds to assist families desiring a solid Catholic education for their children,” Father Allen said. “It is an event educating our minds to know God will never leave us in the darkness.   

“Through the love of Christ shared, our minds discover the warmth of hope.  I know no better witness to the value of Catholic education at Holy Family than this memorial scholarship and the lives that have been enriched by the sacrifice it represents.”  

Bishop Duca, who visited the parish hall after the Mass, said in his time as bishop in the Diocese of Shreveport he had “never seen anything like it.”  

 Holy Family principal Mike Comeau said the Ava and Jacob Memorial Scholarship provides partial scholarships for Holy Family School students. He said many positive things have come out of a devastating tragedy and the “Holy Family School community will forever be indebted to the Saucier family for their gift of generosity each year.”