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La. pastor killed in crash remembered as 'wonderful man' by governor, parishioners

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BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards says people all over Louisiana, not just within, the Catholic community, are mourning the death of Father Mark Beard.

The Baton Rouge Diocese announced Beard's death Wednesday afternoon, saying he was killed in a car wreck near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line earlier that same day. 

Beard, 62, was ordained in 2009 and was a prominent religious leader in the area. Edwards says he kept close ties with him ever since Beard arrived in Amite in 2011 to be the pastor at their church. 

"I know that a lot of people are very distraught now," Edwards said. "The faith teaches you that a priest like Father Mark is just opening the door to everlasting life."

He delivered the benedictions at both of the governor's inaugurations. 

"Just a wonderful man and a great pastor," Edwards said Thursday. "And I can tell you, that not just the St. Helena Catholic Church parish and staff but people all over the state of Louisiana — many of them are not even Catholic — are grieving today."

Terry Bellon, a Deacon candidate and friend of Beard, was supposed to vested by Beard in just over a week. He expressed how Beard made his impact.

"He attracted people, and he was what I called 'holding holy court'," Bellon said. "Just evangelizing and catechizing people and teaching them about the faith. He had an impact on so many people's lives here, but I think he'll have a much bigger impact in heaven."

Churches throughout the diocese hosted prayer services Thursday in Beard's honor. 


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