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Catholics in southern Louisiana celebrated the Assumption with a Eucharistic Procession through the heart of Cajun country. Participants honored Our Lord and celebrated their Catholic heritage — handed down from French settlers in North America over 200 years ago. Church Militant's William Mahoney has more from the ground.
The faithful gathered early in the morning at St. Leo the Great in Leonville for Mass in French on Sunday with their bishop, Lafayette's John Douglas Deshotel. Mass marked the beginning of the seventh annual Fête-Dieu du Teche, a 40-mile Eucharistic boat procession down the Bayou Teche — a 125-mile river flowing down south-central Louisiana.
This year's Fête-Dieu occurred during the year of Saint Joseph and the year of the family, and so the Holy Family was honored with the inclusion of a statue of St. Joseph and a statue of the Virgin Mary, each hosted on its own boat.
David, participant: "As you can see today, how many priests, religious, seminarians participate gives us a lot of confidence in the Church. The Church is vibrant, particularly here in south Louisiana."
The procession included multiple stops along the way to St. Martinville, retracing the voyage once made by the Acadians roughly 250 years ago. In what some historians call the "Great Upheaval," beginning in 1755, many Acadians were exiled from present-day Nova Scotia for their Catholic faith at the end of the French and Indian War — the same Faith they carried down the Bayou Teche to southern Louisiana.
The first stop on the Bayou was at St. Francis Regis in Arnaudville, where the faithful prayed the Rosary and had multiple priests offering the sacrament of confession. Participants then reboarded their boats and headed to the next stop, with many people greeting the faithful from alongside the river.
One woman from another part of the state joined the event with her husband after learning of it from a pro-life leader.
Samantha, participant: "This is my very first time, and it was absolutely lovely. It was beautiful!"
The faithful then disembarked at St. Joseph in Cecilia, where they prayed another Rosary and again had confession available. From St. Joseph, the procession continued to St. Bernard in Breaux Bridge, St. Joseph in Parks and — ultimately — to St. Martin de Tours in St. Martinville for benediction, with a final foot procession down the road to Mater Dolorosa Chapel for Solemn Vespers.
Almost 250 years later, the Catholic legacy of the Acadians is still very strong.