LAFAYETTE, La.- (From the Diocese of Lafayette)- A historic journey will begin this weekend as three Acadiana residents take the first step toward possible sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Bishop Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette will officially open the “Cause for Canonization” of Charlene Richard and Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue at a 10 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at Immaculata Chapel in Lafayette.
A third candidate for Beatification/Canonization is Lt. Father J. Verbis Lafleur, whose cause requires the collaboration of two other bishops in order to receive necessary permissions, due to Fr. Lafleur’s military service.
“We expect these technical, canonical matters to be resolved shortly,” the Diocese said. Once resolved, Bishop Deshotel intends to open Fr. Lafleur’s “Cause for Canonization” as soon as possible.
Nonetheless, Fr. Lafleur will also be recognized at the Saturday events.
“Each of the three candidates are beloved, not only in South Louisiana but around the world, for their strong Catholic faith and their loving devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, and their nomination is a testament to the rich diversity of our Diocese,” the Diocese said in a statement.
Charlene Richard, known affectionately as “The Little Cajun Saint,” was an Acadia Parish middle school student and athlete who died at the age of 12 in 1959, just two weeks after being diagnosed with acute leukemia.
While hospitalized, she “offered her suffering to God in prayers for others.”
Nonco Pelafigue was a longtime resident of Arnaudville, a teacher, a producer of children’s plays, and door to door lay evangelist “who devoted his life to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” the Diocese said.
Lt. Father J. Verbis Lafleur was a native of Ville Platte and parishioner of St. Landry Church in Opelousas who was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Lafayette in 1938, where he was assigned to St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Abbeville.
He later volunteered as a military chaplain during World War II. As a prisoner of war, he “gave his life while saving the lives of his fellow servicemen during a torpedo attack aboard a sinking Japanese P.O.W. ship off the coast of the Philippines in the final year of the war.”
Stories of miraculous healing have been attributed to all three of the candidates, the Diocese said.
During the January 11 ceremony, Bishop Deshotel will officially accept each petition from representatives of the candidates’ supporters and will sign separate decrees on the Immaculata Chapel altar, officially opening the Cause for Beatification/Canonization. At that time, all those involved in the research and investigation of each cause will take an oath of office.
Included in the oath of office is the Postulator, the Catholic canon lawyer appointed to guide and oversee the Cause.