The process for three Acadiana natives to be recognized as saints by the Catholic Church has begun.
In a ceremony held today at Immaculata Chapel in Lafayette, the Cause for Canonization was officially opened by the Diocese of Lafayette for Charlene Richard and Auguste "Nonco" Pelafigue.
A third candidate for Canonization is Lt. Father J. Verbis Lafleur, whose cause requires the collaboration of two other bishops in order to receive the necessary permissions, due to his military service.
Fr. Lafleur served during World War I and was killed while a prisoner of war upon a Japanese POW ship in the Philippines. Lafleur's cause thus requires collaboration with the Archbishop of the Philippine Islands and the Causes of Saints in Rome.
Once the technicalities are resolved, Father Deshotel intends to open Fr. Lafleur's Cause for Canonization as soon as possible. Fr. Lafleur was recognized at today's ceremonies nonetheless.
This is the first time such a process has taken place - and on a special day. Saturday was the 101st anniversary of the Diocese of Lafayette.
At the ceremony, Father J. Douglas Deshotel accepted each petition from representatives of the candidates' supporters and signed separate decrees on the Immaculate Chapel altar, officially opening the Cause for Canonization/Beatification.
Those involved in the research of each cause took an oath of office; included in the oath was the Postulator from Rome.
Now, Father Ledoux explained, the church can take a closer look at each person's life.
"Can these people bring for all the universal church a gift, a witness that we all can benefit from in our own journey, our own faith life, our own response to God calling us to be saints? Because that is our ultimate vocation, to be a saint," Father Ledoux said.
Father Ledoux said he hopes each person present at the ceremony felt a sense of excitement and joy that the process was beginning. He added each of the nominees has "been a witness to Acadiana" through their acts.
He said the fact that the Church is beginning to recognize the individuals is exciting for everyone.
"Today's an opportunity for all of us to get to know these people a little more. Pick up a book, do some research," said Father Ledoux of the saints, "Our life can benefit from their life, their witness, their courage, and in many cases their sacrifices. And we all need that encouragement in our lives."