Guilbeau selected Citizen of the Year at annual Kiwanis Prayer Breakfast

Joe Guilbeau addresses attendees after receiving the Kiwanis Club of Iberville's 2012 Citizen of the Year award at the 26th Annual Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast at the Knights of Columbus Council 970 Hall on Nov. 13. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

Long-time volunteer of various civic organizations Joe Guilbeau was selected Kiwanis Club of Iberville's 2012 Citizen of the Year at the groups' 26th Annual Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast on Nov. 13 at the Knights of Columbus Council 970 Hall.

Rev. Jason Palermo, pastor of St. Joseph and St. Stephen the Martyr Parishes in French Settlement and Maurepas, was the keynote speaker of the event and Dale Poche' was presented the Kiwanis Distinguished Service Award.

Founding Club of Iberville president Bubba Beatty gave the welcome address, led the pledge of allegiance and introduced the head table before Fr. Cleo Milano of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church delivered the opening prayer.

Following scripture readings by Rev. Louis Askins of Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church and Pastor Kemper Smith of First United Methodist Church, Kiwanis member Sally Gauthier introduced the keynote speaker.

"We have a long way to go to building the church spiritually," Palermo said. "We have to recognize our dependence to God."

Palermo, a Plaquemine native and priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, graduated from St. John High School in 1997 and LSU with a dual Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Psychology in 2000. He went on to graduate with a Masters of Divinity from the Notre Dame Seminary and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2007.

"You have to be creative," Palermo said. "When God created Adam and Eve, he mandated it.

"People should want to come to church to thank God every week. Everyday should be Thanksgiving."

Palermo fell under criticism when a decision was made to tear down St. William in Port Vincent but it has since swayed when plans were unveiled to construct a church on the grounds similar to the Madonna Chapel in Bayou Goula.

"You have to get dirty if you are going to build a church physically," Palermo said. "Today we are scared of dirt and girt but Jesus was not scared to get dirty. People appreciate it more when they do it themselves."

Plaquemine Board of Selectman Mickey Rivet gave an honorary presentation to Palermo before Beatty presented Guilbeau with the Citizen of the Year award.

"In 50 years, I have been able to contribute to various projects to the betterment of our community but it is safe to say a lot of people have helped me a long the way and I will always remember who they are," Guilbeau said. "I am truly honored. This is the next best thing to the Hall of Fame."

Past Kiwanis president Charlie Edwards presented the distinguished service award before Mother Karen Gay, Rector of Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion delivered the closing prayer.

The St. John the Evangelist Church Choir provided choral selections including "God Bless America."

The object of the Kiwanis includes giving primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life.