Boats filled the Vermilion River and followed the boat carrying the Eucharist.

Boats filled the Vermilion River and followed the boat carrying the Eucharist.

Benediction on the river: A Cajun Eucharistic procession, by boat

There is no doubt, Vermilion Parish is a Roman Catholic Community based on the amount of people who took part in the Centennial Fete-Dieu du Vermilion Eucharistic Procession on Wednesday morning.
It began with a French Mass at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville. The procession left the church and walked across the downtown bridge and then turned into the old Riverfront Restaurant where it stopped along the river.
The rosary was said in four different languages.
Catholics surrounded the grounds and many were standing on the shutdown downtown bridge. Also in attendance were students from Vermilion Catholic, Mt. Carmel and Maltrait Elementary.
“Participating in such a reverent celebration and reciting a decade of the Rosary in French was a blessing and opportunity to connect with our Catholic and Acadian roots of south Louisiana,” said Camille Harrington, a VC senior
Some Vermilion Catholic students took part in the procession
“I was very honored to be chosen to serve for such a special and unique Mass. it was humbling to serve for Bishop Provost,”said VC senior Anne-Catherine Gallet.
The event honors the arrival of the French-speaking Catholics, the Acadians, who came to the area 252 years ago after being exiled by the British from present-day Nova Scotia. They built homes and churches along the bayou and established the communities, the culture and the faith that would define the Cajuns.
The Feté-Dieu du Vermilion procession left downtown and headed north towards Lafayette, where it ended later in the day.
There were over 60 boats in the procession.
Since that first event in 2015, the procession-by-boat has been repeated each year on August 15, becoming an annual part of Acadiana’s observance of the Assumption of Mary.
“To be Cajun is to be Catholic,” says Father Michael Champagne in a pleasant baritone that gives evidence of his own Acadian roots.
Watching along the banks of the Vermilion River was Jerry Hiden from New Iberia. She was speechless when she saw the amount of Catholics walking across the bridge.
“That is lovely to see,” Hiden said.

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