Boat registration is open for the fifth annual Fête-Dieu du Teche 38-mile eucharistic procession down Bayou Teche scheduled for Aug. 15.
The date is important for Roman Catholics as it is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Acadian people and of Acadiana, according to a prepared statement from the organizers.
It also marks the 254th anniversary of the arrival of French-Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering. The Rev. Michael Champagne, organizer of the event, said that “having a Eucharistic Procession by boat on the waters of the Teche rather than by foot in the streets makes a lot of sense. Fête- Dieu du Teche on the Feast of the Assumption recalls our rich Acadian history and, in a way, re-enacts the journey made by the Acadians 250 years ago.”
The Acadians were persecuted for their Catholic faith and sent into exile from Nova Scotia, the statement said, and many ended up settling in Louisiana.
Champagne said that having a boat procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Assumption involving priests, the religious and church members is basically what happened in 1765.
“In order to serve the Acadian settlers in the Attakapas district, Father Jean-Louis de Civrey accompanied the Acadians on their journey down the Bayou Teche,” Champagne said. “Father Civrey became the first resident priest. In his records, Father Civrey refers to his new home as ‘la Nouvelle Acadie’ and his new parish ‘l’Église des Attakapas’ (Attakapas Church) and later, ‘lÉglise St-Martin de Tours’ (St. Martin de Tours Church). It is believed that St. Martinville is named after the Church. Having the Catholic Priest accompany the Acadians on their journey to Acadiana is indicative of our ancestors’ great allegiance to their Catholic Faith, especially the Eucharist and Our Lady. Fête-Dieu du Teche today relives that original experience of the Acadians.”
Hundreds will travel by boat to celebrate the occasion in honoring the Blessed Sacrament and Acadian heritage.
Last year the event was held on the Vermilion River to help celebrate the centennial of the Diocese of Lafayette. Thousands traveled from throughout Louisiana and beyond to participate in the event. Many participated in the Eucharistic Procession by boat and others traveling by car and gathering along the banks of the bayou at the various stops.
The Rev. Jeremy Zipple traveled from New York to do a documentary on the Fête in 2017. He said, “I found the whole thing incredibly moving. It was beautiful to see an entire town coming together for prayer. It’s a sense of communal identity we just don’t see much anymore in the Western world.”
Bishop John Douglas Deshotel, a native son of Acadiana and the current Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, will begin this year’s event by celebrating the Mass of the Assumption in French at St. Leo the Great Church in Leonville at 8 am.
The procession will leave St. Leo’s and head to the Leonville boat landing from 9-9:30 a.m. The boat procession departs at 10:20 a.m. and arrives at Arnaudville and disembarks for Rosary and Benediction at 11:45 a.m.
At 1:35 p.m. the procession arrives at Cecilia and disembark for Rosary and Benediction. The procession then arrives at Breaux Bridge and disembarks for Rosary and Benediction at 3:15 p.m. and arrives at Parks and disembarks for Rosary and Benediction at 4:45 p.m.
The flotilla arrives at St. Martinville with a foot procession to Notre Dame de Perpetuel Secours for Benediction at 5 p.m. A procession from Notre Dame to St. Martin de Tours Church for Benediction is at 5:30 p.m. with a procession down Main Street to Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel for Solemn Vespers and Final Benediction at 6 p.m.
Confessions will be available at each stop in mobile units along the procession.
Once the registration form is completed and waivers signed, either mail them to 103 Railroad Avenue, St. Martinville, LA 70582 or scan the completed forms and email them to the above email address as an attachment.
The boat coordinator will contact those who registered with details. The procession will travel at about 8 mph and thus only motorized vessels are allowed. Catholic schools are encouraged to send their students or a representative group to be present at the opening French Mass in Leonville with Bishop Deshotel, at one or more of the stops along the procession, and especially to participate in the final foot procession in St. Martinville. Church parishes, ecclesial movements, KC and St. Peter Claver councils, Catholic schools, etc. are encouraged to register a boat and decorate it accordingly.
Pope Francis Grants Fête-Dieu du Teche Participants a Plenary Indulgence
Pope Francis, through his Grand Penitentiary, His Eminence Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, has granted a plenary indulgence to participants of Fȇte- Dieu du Teche on Aug. 15. The indulgence is granted to the faithful who devoutly participate in the opening Mass at St. Leo the Great in Leonville, to those making the procession by boat down the Teche, and to those who participate at the various stations along the bayou in the recitation of the Marian Rosary and Benediction.
The Fête-Dieu du Teche Plenary Indulgence can be offered for oneself or in suffrage for a deceased loved one.
For more information, visit the website www.fetedieuduteche.org or Fete-Dieu du Teche on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CommunityofJesusCrusified/ or contact The Rev. Michael Champagne CJC by telephone at 394-6550 or email at email@example.com.