Friday, November 19, 2021



On Nov. 17, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to advance  the  level of causes of beatification and canonization for Servants of God Charlene Marie Richard, Auguste Robert Pelafigue (See Blog Oct. 2016), and Joseph Ira Dutton (Blog April 2016) to Venerable.

Born in 1888, near Lourdes in France, AUGUSTE ROBERT  PELAFIGUE moved as a toddler with his family to Arnaudville, Louisiana.   He  was called "Nonco" (Uncle)  by those close to him, a nickname  he earned  because he was like a good uncle to everyone who came into his (circle) of influence.

That circle of influence was a large one. A teacher, August joined the faculty of the Little Flower School in Arnaudville, LA as the only lay member after teaching in public school. At the same time, he joined The Apostleship of Prayer, an organization with French roots dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He had a passionate devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 He devoutly attended daily Mass and served wherever he was needed and, with a rosary looped around his arm,  traversed the highways and byways of his community, spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

CHARLENE MARIE RICHARD was born  on Jan. 13, 1947 and was raised in a Louisiana town of the same name: Richard. Growing up, she cherished her family, her Catholic faith, having a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. She also loved basketball. The second of 10 children, she “played Mass” with her brother, John Dale.

In middle school, the young Cajun girl was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and lymphatic system. She responded to the illness by offering up her pain and suffering for others.

 Every day, the child asked the priest who ministered to her on her deathbed, “Father, who am I to offer my sufferings for today?”

Charlene died 16 days after her diagnosis on Aug. 11, 1959. She was just 12 years old. Bishop Deshotel who officially opened the cause of canonization for her called her the “little Cajun saint”. 

“I ask the approval of the conference in pursuing this cause of this innocent child who has proven to be an inspiration to all of us in our human condition as we carry the cross of illness,” Bishop Deshotel said. 

JOSEPH IRA DUTTON  was  a Civil War veteran who joined St. Damian of Molokai in his ministry to lepers.   Although he never took religious vows, Joseph was known as "Brother Joseph," a "brother to everybody." On Molokai he found real peace and joy. One peer recalled: "Dutton had a divine temper; nothing could ruffle it."  At 83, Joseph wrote: "I am ashamed to think that I am inclined to be jolly. Often think we don't know that our Lord ever laughed, and here my laugh is ready to burst out any minute."

He never left Molokai; he never wanted to. "Seek a vacation?" he asked. "Anything else would be slavery . . . The people here like me, I think, and I am sure I like them." He added: "I would not leave my lepers for all the money the world might have." The one exception was in 1917, when the 74-year-old patriot tried "to buckle on my sword-belt again" and re-enlist. His application was rejected, but he wasn't heart-broken.

Before his death on March 26, 1931, he said: "It has been a happy place — a happy life."  It had been a restless life until he found happiness among the lepers of Molokai. At the time of his death, the Jesuit magazine America noted: "Virtue is never so attractive as when we see it in action. It has a power to believe that we too can rise up above this fallen nature of ours to a fellowship with the saints."


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