St. Helena Catholic Church Is Mourning Father Mark Beard — What Happened?

On Aug. 2, 2023, news broke that Father Mark Beard has died. What was the pastor's cause of death? Here's what we know about his passing.


Aug. 3 2023, Published 9:54 a.m. ET

Father Mark Beard at St. Helena Catholic Church
Source: St. Helena Catholic Church Facebook

On Aug. 2, 2023, news broke that Father Mark Beard, a pastor who worked at St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, La., had died. The news was first shared by Bishop Michael G. Duca on the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge's Facebook page. In the post, the bishop requested prayers for Beard's family, friends, and parishioners, who are all grieving.

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Following the news, many wanted to know more about what happened to Father Mark Beard, and how he had died so suddenly. Here's what we know about the pastor and his cause of death.

What was Father Mark Beard's cause of death?

According to law enforcement, Beard died in a car accident that took place on Aug. 2. The accident occurred on Interstate 55, north of the state lines between Louisiana and Mississippi, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Reports suggest that the pastor's car veered off the road and hit a median and then a culvert. The car overturned following the collisions and Beard died at the scene.

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It isn't clear what caused Beard's car accident.

Beard owned property in Mississippi that he visited frequently, which may explain why he was on the road. A Rosary ceremony was held in his honor on the evening of Aug. 2 at St. Helena Catholic Church.

At this time, it's still unclear what actually caused Beard's car to veer off the road, but it appears that no one else was injured in the accident.

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Father Beard was a Louisiana native.

Born in Baton Rouge, La., Beard went to the Catholic High School in Baton Rouge and then to Louisiana State University. He was well known for his philanthropic efforts in the community of Amite, and for his generosity of spirit.

Beard was ordained in 2009 following what he described as a conversion experience while he was visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also delivered benedictions at Governor John Bel Edwards's first and second inaugurations.

Following the news of Beard's death, those who had known him or attended his services offered their thoughts on the legacy he had left behind.

"Our beloved priest at St. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, Father Mark Beard, was killed in a car accident today. He saved many souls and brought them closer to God during his 13 years with us. A huge, huge loss to our community. Please pray for the repose of his soul," one person wrote.

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Source: Twitter/@KatieCorkern

There has been no reporting on when a formal memorial service may be held to honor Beard's life. Reporting suggests that his death came just days after he delivered his final sermon on July 30, adding extra tragedy to the news of his passing.

It's clear that the community of Amite will be feeling this loss for weeks to come. In addition to preaching to his congregation, Beard was very active in the community, which he likely would have continued to be even after he relinquished his formal duties. The diocese of Baton Rouge has promised to provide additional information as it becomes available.

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