By Barbara Chenevert

Staff Writer

Ronie Tureau cooks every Sunday for any of her six children, 15 grandchildren or eight great-grandchildren who happen to stop by. But she also feeds hundreds of other people living in the St. Amant community.

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Ninety-three-year-old Ronie Tureau, center, represented her parish of Holy Rosary in St. Amant at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Photo by Laura Deavers | The Catholic Commentator


Tureau is the coordinator of the Holy Rosary Church food pantry – a volunteer position she has held since 1976. For 35 years, she has collected, organized and distributed food to those most in need.

And at the age of 93, Tureau says she’s the lucky one. “It’s wonderful that I am able to do this. I thank God every day that I can help those who are less fortunate than I am,” she said.

“God is just pushing me. He wants me to do this. My health is good. It’s my mind that is not that sharp,” she said with a laugh.

Tureau is also handling Holy Rosary’s Adopt-a-Family-for-Christmas program, in which families in need are matched with families willing to donate food baskets.

“There is a larger demand at Christmas. People are really calling now, because more people are out of work,” she said as she pulls out handwritten pages of names of those in need of food.

“I do it all by hand. I don’t use computers,” she said.

And if that is not enough, Tureau also serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, participates in the church’s prayer line and schedules the volunteers from Holy Rosary who work at the Fellowship Center in Gonzales, an interdenominational center that sells low-cost clothing and household items. Holy Rosary is one of the participating churches and sends volunteers to work at the store each Monday.

The people of Holy Rosary are wonderful and generous, Tureau said. Once a month, food collection barrels fill up as parishioners bring groceries while others send cash to help the less fortunate. “We seldom run out of food,” she said.

Tureau organizes the food in the church pantry and uses the cash to order needed supplies from area groceries.

“It’s so rewarding to see that everybody has food,” she said. “I sometimes get hugs from people when they get their food. That means so much to me.”

Always active in ministries at Holy Rosary, Tureau said she was appointed to head the newly created social responsibility committee in 1976, when the Diocese of Baton Rouge asked each church parish to start an outreach committee.

“I’ve been chairman ever since. I guess nobody else wants it,” she said. “It keeps me out of trouble. I could play Pokeno or something like that, but this is more rewarding,” she said.

She has also served as president of her church’s altar society, coordinated the senior citizens outreach luncheons and taught first-grade religion. She has twice been named Ascension Civil Parish volunteer of the year.

Tureau said her husband passed away in 1961 while two of her six children were still at home. After they graduated from high school and went to college, she lived alone. “I stayed busy, working in the yard and cleaning house, but God was calling me, and I just couldn’t tell him no.”

She said her activities are now restricted by her children, who won’t let her drive except back and forth to church, which is only a few blocks from her house. “When my children were young, I was the boss of them. Now they are the boss of me,” she said.

Work is not new to Tureau, who said she grew up working on her father’s farm, only a few miles from where she lives now. “I worked in the field. I had to walk two to three miles to school. I never had to go to a gym or someplace for exercise,” she added. Tureau said she left school in 10th grade to take care of her mother, who was ill and bedridden. She married in 1945 and she and her husband raised six children, all of whom have graduated from college, she said.

“The Good Lord always gave me energy. As long as I wear my ‘maw-maw shoes,’ I have no trouble walking,” she said pointing to the soft, black leather, flat shoes on her feet.