reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
New Orleans area Priest prays every day for the man who brutally murdered his mom and dad; forgiveness is powerful
Priest prays for serial killer who murdered his parents
Every day, since May 9, 1997, Dominic “Mixie” Arcuri has prayed for the man who bludgeoned his parents to death in LaPlace.
It didn’t change when he became a deacon and then a priest, who now serves at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Destrehan, or when the killer was convicted of first-degree murder.
“I have never, ever had anger in my heart to the person who murdered my parents. That is a gigantic grace from God,” Arcuri said. “I credit him with giving me the peace I needed in my heart to deal with my grief. Every day of my life, I pray for the perpetrator.”
Despite the brutality of his parents’ deaths, he forgave their killer and believes God spared him the anger that allowed for love.
“I pray for him by name every day,” he said. “My prayer is before he draws his parting breath that he will reconcile with the Lord and be able to enjoy heaven for all eternity.”
Although Arcuri asked the man not be identified, the serial killer was sentenced to death by lethal injection after he was found responsible for the murder of six people. He was sentenced to death in 1999, a sentence that was overthrown in 2001 when he got a life sentence in prison without parole.
Arcuri’s parents, Sam and Louella, were killed in 1997, the same year Arcuri had told them he was starting classes to become a permanent deacon.
“My parents were so happy,” he said.
Arcuri told them it was a four-year program and he wasn’t sure where “the Lord is calling me, but I’m going to find out.”
Later that year, Arcuri received horrific news.
“Somebody broke into their house during the night,” he said. “He bludgeoned each of them.”
A banker at the time in LaPlace, Arcuri was waiting for his father for a meeting on the second floor of the bank building. His father failed to show up and family members then discovered his parents’ bodies in their home.
“There were about 20 police cars there and complete bedlam,” he said. “My wife was crying uncontrollably and said, ‘There is blood everywhere on the inside.’”
His brother told him, ”Dad is dead and Momma’s about dead.’”
Arcuri said he kneeled in prayer, saying, “Lord, I can’t handle this by myself. Please help me.”
Soon after the murders, a witness told him that he saw a man running from his parents’ house. Arcuri gave the information to the police. Later, another woman in the neighborhood was found dead in her home.
“She was killed the same way my parents were … the same kind of instrument,” he said.
In November of that year, Arcuri received a letter saying he’d been accepted in the January 1998 deacon class. His wife attended the classes, and they shared their story with fellow classmates. He recalled the love and compassion shown to them as “a blessing from the Lord.” He came to believe these classes were God’s way of answering his prayer.
Arcuri served 17 years as a permanent deacon at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in LaPlace.
“I pray for him by name every day. My prayer is before he draws his parting breath that he will reconcile with the Lord and be able to enjoy heaven for all eternity.” — Father Dominic “Mixie” Arcuri
He also discovered a deeper relationship with God, as well as felt spared a particularly strong stage of grief – anger.
Arcuri’s already challenging life took still another turn in 2012 when his wife had a stroke. She needed constant care, and a blood infection put her in the ER and she became an invalid. Three years later, she died from injuries sustained in the stroke.
“I always had priesthood in the back of my mind,” he said. “At age 69, I approached the diocese about going into the priesthood and asked if it was too late to apply.”
He entered the Notre Dame Seminary in January 2017.
“I moved from my king-sized bed at home to my twinsized bed at the seminary,” Arcuri said.
By June of 2018, he was ordained and given his first assignment at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Destrehan. It was somewhat unusual to immediately become a pastor, but Arcuri, who had served 17 years as a deacon and had 42 years experience as a banker, felt it indicated he could handle the job.
“So here I am,” he said.
He serves as a living example of dealing with grief, as well as anger.
“I can use some of that experience to help other people,” he said. “No two instances could bring grief to people exactly alike. I think what happened to me, how I dealt and deal with grief, the forgiveness part of it, helps with my ministry.
“Forgiveness is not an automatic for sure. It took time, it took prayer to come to that point.”