Louisiana is home to the New Orleans Saints Football Team, but with the state’s strong roots in Catholic faith, it may not be surprising to hear we may be growing some Catholic saints of our own!
There are currently eight “Servants of God” who are undergoing the process of becoming potential saints in the Catholic Church, all with ties to our state.
On Aug. 8, three Catholic priests from different dioceses in Louisiana met with KALB, the local NBC news affiliate in Alexandria, LA, to share the stories of these eight brave souls who died in faith.
Father Peter Mangum, a priest from the Diocese of Shreveport, is the Episcopal Delegate for five priests from the Shreveport area who died in 1873 during the yellow fever outbreak. Known as the Five Martyrs, they are Father Isidor Quemerais, Fr. Jean Pierre, Fr. Jean Marie Biler, Fr. Louis Marie Gergaud, and Fr. Francois Le Vezouet. All of these priests are orginally from Brittany, France but were brought to Louisiana by the first Bishop of Natchitoches, Bishop Auguste Martin. Fr. Magnum spoke of the priests’ heroism as they each knowingly went to their deaths to serve the dying people in northern Louisiana and administer the sacraments.
Father Taylor Reynolds, a priest from the Diocese of Alexandria, is the Episcopal Delegate for a little 12-year-old girl named Charlene Richard, who died of leukemia in 1959. Charlene showed extraordinary faith in the last two weeks of her life, offering up her terrible pains for others in need, showing us a courageous example of redemptive suffering.
Father Mark Ledoux, a priest from the Diocese of Lafayette, is the Episcopal Delegate for Lt. Fr. Joseph Verbis Lafleur, a young priest and military chaplain who gave his life trying to save men at sea in 1944 during World War II. Fr. Lafleur also showed great selflessness and sacrifice during his time as a prisoner of war, helping anyone he could without a thought for himself.
Father Travis Abadie, a priest from the Diocese of Lafayette, the Episcopal Delegate for Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue, was not able to attend the interview with KALB, but we learned about his cause through Fr. Reynolds. “Nonco” lived from 1888 to 1977 and was just a man who lived a simple, holy life, showing great humility and kindness to others.
It was also a historic day for these four priests, who met together in person for the first time as they discussed the 8 “Servants of God” and their causes for canonization.
At this stage, each candidate is referred to as “Servant of God.” The next step is the “inquiry of miracles” where a period of time is spent documenting testimony regarding “miracles” that happened due to the intercession of an individual. Once miracles have been documented, a recommendation is submitted to the Pope, by whose authority they would then be deemed “Venerable.” The next steps include verifying the miracles for beatification where they will be referred to as “Blessed” and then canonization where they become Saints.
Story originally published on KALB-TV’s website by Julie LeBlanc Sober, Digital Content Manager, KALB-TV