(Photos courtesy of Fr. Michael Champagne)
A procession of boats on Bayou Teche during a previous Fête-Dieu du Teche. This year’s
procession on Aug. 15 will petition God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of people will participate in the Eucharistic Procession on Bayou Teche in a variety of boats. The scene above is from a previous procession.
Procession on Bayou Teche to petition for end of COVID-19 pandemic
The sixth annual Fête-Dieu du Teche will petition God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 40-mile Eucharistic Procession follows Bayou Teche with participants in boats and on foot to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the Acadian people and of Acadiana.
This year’s procession also marks the 255th anniversary of the arrival of French-Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering.
The Fr. Michael Champagne, CJC, organizer of the event, notes 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 over 250 years ago.”
Champagne said a boat procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Assumption involving priests, religious, and laity is basically what happened in 1765. “In order to serve the Acadian settlers in the Attakapas district, Fr. Jean-Louis de Civrey accompanied the Acadians on their journey down the Bayou Teche. Fr. Civrey became the first resident priest.”
The day begins with an 8 a.m. Mass in French with Bishop Douglas Deshotel at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Attendance in the church will be limited to 315 persons, but the Mass is to be broadcast on outside speakers.
Anyone who is ill or has a compromised immune system is asked to remain home and participate in the procession on-line at facebook.com/CommunityofJesusCrucified.
All participants 8 years or older (whether on boats or on shore) will be expected to wear face masks and observe social distancing (this includes priests, seminarians, and laity). Persons with health conditions prohibiting them from wearing a face mask are asked not to attend the event. A team of trained marshals will be on hand to assure implementation of safety precautions at all sites.
The Mass will be followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of Mary and St. Joseph to the nearby boat landing.
This year’s Fête-Dieu du Teche is special as it will be held on the eve of the opening of the Year of St. Joseph in the Diocese of Lafayette, Champagne said. The Diocese of Lafayette boasts 13 church parishes with the name of St. Joseph – 14 if one counts the original name of the Mother Church of the Acadians prior to the name change to St. Martin de Tours.
“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,” he said.
The Eucharistic Procession will stop and disembark at makeshift altars along the Bayou Teche for recitation of the Rosary and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop Douglas Deshotel, notes, “I have been edified by the devotion and participation of so many priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful. I think such a public Eucharistic celebration is an excellent manifestation of the new evangelization that we so desperately need.”
To register a boat for the procession, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, download a registration form at https://www.jesuscrucified.net/fete-dieu-du-teche, or complete the online form at https://www.jesuscrucified.net/events/fete-dieu-du-teche-2020/form.
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.
Itinerary for Aug. 15 Eucharistic Boat Procession on Bayou Teche
(Feast of the Assumption of Mary)
8 a.m. Holy Mass in French with Bishop John Douglas Deshotel, D.D., at St. Leo the Great Church, Leonville.
9 a.m. Procession from St. Leo’s to Leonville boat landing.
9:30 a.m. Boat procession departs.
10:20 a.m. Arrive at Arnaudville and disembark for Rosary and Benediction
11:45 a.m. Arrive at Cecilia and disembark for Rosary and Benediction.
1:35 p.m. Arrive at Breaux Bridge and disembark for Rosary and Benediction.
3:15 p.m. Arrive at Parks and disembark for Rosary and Benediction.
4:45 p.m. Flotilla arrives at St. Martinville; Foot procession to Notre Dame de Perpetuel Secours for Benediction.
5 p.m. Procession from Notre Dame to St. Martin de Tours Church for Benediction.
5:30 p.m. Procession down Main Street to Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel for Solemn Vespers & Final Benediction.
6 p.m. Solemn Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at Mater Dolorosa Chapel.
Confessions will be available at all stops in mobile units along the procession.