Father Lawrence Phelps, a monk of Saint Joseph Abbey, Saint Benedict, LA, died on Monday September 12 at the age of 92.
Born Joseph Charles Phelps, he was the eldest of three sons of Charles Joseph Phelps and Rosey Vanney Phelps of New Orleans. After graduating from Redemptorist High School, he worked for a time in banking industry before enrolling in Saint Joseph Seminary.
In 1956, he entered Saint Joseph Abbey and made monastic profession in 1957, when he received the name Lawrence. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and a few years later earned a Master’s in Education from Loyola University. He was ordained in 1963.
Over the years, he held numerous offices in both the Abbey and in Saint Joseph Seminary College. Most notably, he was a professor of Education, later Registrar, then Academic Dean, and Alumni Director in the Seminary College, and Master of Ceremonies, Guest Master, Treasurer, Secretary to the Abbot and the Chapter, and Almoner in the monastic community.
Throughout his priestly life he gave pastoral assistance at parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, his longest service, from 1981 to 1999, being at Saint James Major Church in New Orleans, where he was a faithful visitor to the elderly — many of whom he continued to visit until the end of his more active life.
In 1999 he became Pastor of Annunciation Church in Bogalusa, a position he held until 2008, when he retired to Saint Joseph Abbey.
In the last years, he lost much of his hearing, and, later, his mobility, though he continued to attend Offices in the Abbey Church and meals in the Abbey Refectory until his needs necessitated more skilled attention and he was transferred to Lacombe Nursing Home, where he died.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers Gerard Edward and Alfred Anthony Phelps.
At 5:30 PM on Thursday, September 15, the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey will receive his body at Vespers in the Abbey Church. A Funeral Vigil will be held at 7:15 that evening. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:15 AM, Friday, September 16, followed by burial in the Abbey Cemetery.