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Fr. J. Vervis Lafleur

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Charlene Richard

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Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue

Three Catholics to be nominated for sainthood

An historic journey will begin this weekend as three Acadiana residents take the first step toward possible sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette will officially open the “Cause for Canonization” of Miss Charlene Richard and Mr. Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue at a 10 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 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. Those technical, canonical matters are expected to be resolved shortly. 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.
Charlene Richard, known affectionately as “The Little Cajun Saint,” was an Acadia Parish middle school student and athlete who died at the age of twelve 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. 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.
During the Jan. 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.
For more information on how the Catholic Church chooses saints, go to
It is important to understand that Saturday’s ceremony is not a beatification or canonization, but the first official step in the extensive and multifaceted process involved in that journey.


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