Hundreds of parishioners converged upon Ruffino’s in River Ranch on Wednesday afternoon to participate in the annual Catholic public procession known as “Fete Dieu du Vermilion.”
Many priests from Acadiana hitchhiked their way to the precession such as Father Friar Antonio from Houma-Thibodeaux Diocese.
“As Jesus was carried on a donkey you could say and people were blessing our lord that this is kinda reenactment or even living of that procession you could say of Jesus being carried by the priests, we call ourselves in a sense little donkeys carrying the lord,” said Father Antonio.
They carried the Lord from Abbeville all the way to Lafayette.
The procession happens every year on August Fifteenth which is the Feast Day of the Assumption for Catholics.
“The Feast of the Assumption in the Catholic faith is a time where we celebrate Mary ascending into heaven body and soul to meet her lord,” said Diocese of Lafayette parishioner Julie Hebert.
This year’s Fete Dieu is the first to be held on the Vermilion River and also celebrated the centennial of the Diocese of Lafayette.
“These kinda processions don’t just happen here on the bayou. This is something that goes back centuries on our Catholic tradition of actually bringing our faith onto the streets as one body to honor Christ in our streets. Here in Louisiana rather than streets, it’s bayous,” said Fr. Antonio.
Students from area Catholic schools lined the river praying with priests at each stop along the route.
“I think that it’s a beautiful experience, especially that our school cares so much to have us out there. And, it’s just humbling,” said John Paul The Great Academy sophomore Ava LeJeune.
And, while the celebration may be only one day long, participants say it shows the strength of the Catholic faith in Acadiana.
“We are so blessed in this area of Acadiana, and it’s an area with so many faithful people, and we need to give our Lord this time today in thanksgiving for all that he’s done for us,” said Julie Hebert.
The day ended with a mass at St. John Cathedral in downtown Lafayette where Bishop Deshotel facilitated a special blessing from the Pope.