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Monsignor Roland P. Bordelon, Catholic Relief director

Monsignor Roland Pierre Bordelon, a retired Catholic Relief Services director, died of dementia Dec. 18 at Charlestown Retirement Community. The former Mount Vernon resident was 87.

Born in Bordelonville, La., he was the son of Russell and Lillian Dupuis Bordelon. Family members said his hometown was named for an ancestor, a French captain who came to America with the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War.

He was ordained a priest in 1950 and joined Catholic Relief Services a decade later. In 1961, he became program director for the Republic of Congo, where he lived.

"The African nation had just gained its independence from Belgium, and the country was in chaos," said Mark Melia, a Catholic Relief Services colleague in Baltimore. "During five years as director, he developed the largest CRS program in sub-Saharan Africa by distributing 30 million pounds of food, most of it through school lunch programs, every year."

He was named a monsignor in 1966.

He later served at the relief service's New York headquarters, where he taught priests about the social needs of people in the developing world.

He was then posted as regional director in South America and later directed relief work in Vietnam.

Colleagues said that in 1985, Monsignor Bordelon assumed responsibility for his agency's India program and worked in New Delhi.

"In 1988, Roland was sent on a short problem-solving mission to Madagascar. That temporary duty lasted nearly six years," Mr. Melia said.

In 1993, he moved to Baltimore and lived for many years on Calvert Street in Mount Vernon while working at Catholic Relief Services' headquarters. He retired in 2009.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown, 711 Maiden Choice Lane.

Survivors include a niece and a nephew.

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