Fête-Dieu du Teche 2022 to take place Monday August 15. The 40-mile Eucharistic Procession by boat this year coincides with the 3-year Eucharistic Revival underway in the United States. The intention for the all-day spiritual and cultural celebration will be for a Renaissance Eucharistique in Acadiana and beyond. Bishop Glen Provost, bishop of the Diocese of Lake Charles comments, “The Fête Dieu du Têche is a marvelous and fitting way to observe and contribute to the Eucharistic Revival which is on- going for us in the United States. The Most Blessed Sacrament traveling by boat on the bayou which was a major channel of transportation for our ancestors calls to mind the vital role that the Eucharist has played in the faith of Acadiana.” In an effort to cultivate a deeper devotion to Jesus’ Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, boaters will be able to choose a patron from a list of 50 Eucharistic witnesses – saints and blessed who exemplified a life totally dedicated to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Saints such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Jean Vianney, St. Katherine Drexel, Blessed Carlo Acutis and Mother Teresa will be highlighted. Boats will feature cutouts, flags, and banners bearing the name of their Eucharistic Saint and present quotations from them about the importance of the Holy Eucharist. Families, church parishes, and Christian communities are encouraged to participate by registering a boat and traveling down the Bayou Teche or by following in their vehicle and gathering at the various stops for recitation of the Holy Rosary and Benediction. Catholic schools are also encouraged to join either by boat or by gathering at one of the stops along the way. Non-Catholics as well are welcome to come and spend the day in prayer. Pat Becker, an Episcopalian, drove 200 miles last year to attend the procession, “This year will be our second time to travel from Shreveport to attend this event. We are not Catholic, but Episcopalian; still, the beauty and meaning crosses all boundaries.”
The day begins at 8 AM with Sunday Mass in French by Bishop Douglas Deshotel at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Following the Mass there will be a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of Mary and St. Joseph to the nearby boat landing. All are encouraged to join in the procession down to the boat landing for Benediction. At 9:30 AM a canon will sound and then boats will depart in procession down the Teche toward St. Martinville, retracing the voyage made by the Acadians over 250 years ago.
August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Acadian people and of Acadiana. It is also a day that marks the 257th anniversary of the arrival of French- Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering. Lafayette’s bishop Douglas Deshotel states, “In the Diocese of Lafayette, August 15 is the day observed when the Acadians began settling in our part of Louisiana. After the French and Indian War, around 1763, the British demanded that those living in present day Nova Scotia renounce their Catholic Faith and swear
allegiance to the British King. Those who did not were expelled from the country. They lost their lands, their homes and some their lives. It was the first example of ethnic cleansing in the new world. Many came to settle in South Louisiana where it was French and Catholic. They brought their culture, their food, and their Catholic Faith – a special devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Mary the Mother of God.” Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s Attorney General, agrees: “Our Faith is the fabric that creates our unique culture here in South Louisiana. Fête-Dieu du Teche is an expression of our faith in God, our respect for family, and devotion to our community that allow us to build a better tomorrow.” Jason Willis, the mayor of St. Martinville is proud to have Fête-Dieu du Teche conclude in his town,
“Over 250 years ago the Acadians arrived in our area. They brought their love of life and their love of their religion with them. Their presence can be seen in our architecture, on our faces, and in our love for life and great pride of our city. Today it is an honor for the City of St. Martinville to recognize and participate once again in that beautiful legacy.”
Now in its eighth year, Fête-Dieu du Teche draws thousands from Louisiana and beyond. “Travelling along Bayou Teche as part of Fête-Dieu du Teche was an unparalleled experience. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore Acadiana’s unique culture and history, and the perfect place to reflect on how the Catholic faith sustains and enriches lives, past and present,” comments Annette Murphy, a native of Great Britain who attended the Eucharistic Boat Procession last year. While filming “The Oath” in Louisiana, the French producer and director Daniel Rabourdin attended Fête-Dieu du Teche. Of his experience he notes that “sometimes, we do not see the immensity of history's wave because it is happening in our own backyard. When the lost Acadian people settled in Louisiana, they walked and paddled there in Christ, and with Christ, and thus the Lord was brought to the flooded Mississippi Delta. Every summer, on the waters of the Teche, anybody can follow Him again.”
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) is also the Feast of the Acadians who settled here in 1765. The Acadians originally sailed to Nouvelle-Écosse (Nova Scotia) under the star of Our Lady of the Assumption and again during the Grand Dérangement. The Acadian flag, both Canadian and Louisiana Acadian, highlights the centrality of Our Lady of the Assumption for the Acadian people. The gold star on a white field represents “Our Lady of the Assumption”, Patroness of the Acadians. When the first settlers departed France for the New World, the Virgin Mary was highly revered. It was a period of great devotion to the Virgin. The King of France, Louis XIII, and Pope Pius XI declared the Virgin Mary the patroness of the kingdom and Patroness Saint of all the Acadians in Canada, Louisiana, and elsewhere. On August 15, 1638, France and her colonies were consecrated to Mary under the title “Our Lady of the Assumption”.
The Eucharistic Boat Procession arrives in St. Martinville on the banks at Notre Dame de Perpetuel Secours at about 4:45 PM, just a stone’s throw from Longfellow’s Evangeline Oak. The pastor of this predominantly African-American congregation is actively involved in the Fête each year. He has experienced the unifying power of the procession for the various cultures represented within the local Church. He notes, “Fête-Dieu du Teche is a great event and holds a deep significance in the lives of the people of Acadiana. The August 15 flotilla reenacts the story of the struggles of the Acadians when they were exiled from Canada and their difficult journey to Louisiana. The Eucharistic procession involves different cultures including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others. It brings the community together. Notre Dame Church awaits Jesus at the last station to welcome Him and the pilgrims. Our young children dress up to welcome our Eucharistic Lord as they spread flowers, honoring Our Lord and His blessed Mother. The Fête serves as a catalyst to unite the culturally diverse St. Martinville. By doing things together like the Fête, unity and healing of past wounds is being achieved.”
The foot procession departs from Notre Dame and makes its way to the “Mother Church of the Acadians”, St. Martin de Tours, for Benediction at 5:30 pm. Fr. Jason Vidrine, a long-time participant and the pastor of St. Martin heralds the power of the Eucharistic Boat Procession, “Fête-Dieu du Teche has been a tremendous blessing on several levels: it has helped to increase love and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, to celebrate the feast of Our Lady's Assumption as it should be kept, and to bring awareness to our culture and heritage of love for Our Lady and our Holy Catholic Faith received from our ancestors. I've had the great joy of participating in it from its beginning and in different ways - from concelebrating the Mass in French, hearing confessions, and riding in the boat procession with different Parishioners each year. I always look forward to the graces Our Lord bestows upon all who participate in it.”
During Fȇte-Dieu du Teche the Blessed Sacrament is fixed on an altar on the lead boat under a canopy. Two bell boats announce Jesus’ arrival and the thurifer boat carries a thurible which burns over 10 lbs. of incense along the journey. A statue of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a statue of St. Joseph follow on individual boats behind Jesus. The Eucharistic Procession pauses and disembarks at makeshift altars along the Bayou Teche for recitation of the Rosary and Benediction of the
Blessed Sacrament. For those who are unable to participate by boat, all are invited to join for Mass at St. Leo the Great in Leonville at 8 am and then to drive and gather at any of the planned stops along the
banks behind the various churches along Bayou Teche. The prayers will be broadcast live on radio and live streamed, so persons with compromised health can listen while remaining in their vehicles. Priests will be available at each stop for Confessions.
The all-day flotilla requires some 120 volunteers to assure that all the many “moving parts” synchronize. The superabundant graces that are showered upon the pilgrims during the special day also reach the organizers and volunteers. Denise Denais is responsible each year for boat registration. She notes that she “has experienced a deeper faith in witnessing the many prayerful faithful lining the banks of the bayou simply to worship Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.” Blane Comeaux coordinates volunteers. He recounts an experience he had at one of the stops: “I was deeply moved as the procession arrived at the river bank in Parks. The crowd went completely silent and kneeled in great reverence as the Eucharistic Procession came ashore. Even though this site is an RV Park and perhaps some were not Catholic, on that day everyone was connected to Jesus Christ by His Eucharistic Presence. Something special was happening. Many people were moved to tears that day, including me.” Dr. Kim Hardey, responsible for mooring the boats as they arrive at each location, notes, “I have attended all of the Eucharistic Boat Processions for the past seven years. As a traditional Catholic, I love the massive expression of faith in our mostly secular world. People from all over Acadiana arrive and share their devotion for the Eucharist.” Jed Angelle pilots the Eucharist down the Bayou Teche. He writes, “Fȇte-Dieu du Teche is a day of peace shared with some of the most faithful people I have ever met. I have been part of putting together many big events in my life. Nothing compares to the extent of dedication everyone puts forth in spreading the Word like this event. I am so blessed to have the privilege of carrying the Blessed Sacrament on my boat.”
Numerous priests and religious attend the Assumption Procession each year. The event effects a powerful Eucharistic Revival among them as well. “I've had the great privilege of attending the Fête- Dieu du Teche every year since its inception” notes Sr. Anne-Marie Dupré. “Each year I am touched in a different way by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Being with Him all day on the water and on land continues to inspire my heart with awe of His humility and love for all mankind. It's a little foretaste of heaven on earth and I look forward to it each year.” Sr. Marie-Thérèse, who attributes her own religious vocation to her encounter with Jesus during the Bayou Procession in 2015 explains, “Fête-Dieu du Teche is probably the most grace-filled event I have ever experienced – and I think that it is very obvious that this is because Jesus is literally present with us all day long! It is one of the most awe-inspiring things to see – thousands bending their knees and opening their hearts to Him as He passes by in procession by foot or water! I invite all who long to encounter the Lord to attend because I know that Jesus will meet them there in a most powerful and life-changing way.”
Register your boat on-line by completing the form at https://www.jesuscrucified.net/events/fete-dieu- du-teche-2022/form and sign the on-line waiver. Once the registration form is completed and waivers signed, the boat coordinator will contact you with details. 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. Fifty boats will be allowed to participate in the flotilla which will yield a one-mile procession on the water. Boaters are asked to have an FM radio and/or have access to Facebook so that they can participate in the continuous prayers led by the cantors and adorers on the Eucharist Lead Boat.
Live stream will be available at www.facebook.com/CommunityofJesusCrucified.
Itinerary for Eighth Annual Eucharistic Boat Procession on Bayou Teche Monday, August 15, 2022, Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
- 8:00 a.m. - Holy Mass in French with Bishop John Douglas Deshotel, D.D. at St. Leo the Great Church, Leonville
- 9:00 a.m. - Procession from St. Leo’s to the 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 behind Notre Dame; Foot Procession to Notre Dame de Perpetual Secours for Benediction
- 5:00 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
- 6:00 p.m. - Solemn Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at Mater Dolorosa Chapel
Pope Francis Grants Fête-Dieu du Teche Participants a Plenary Indulgence
Pope Francis has granted participants of Fȇte-Dieu du Teche a Plenary Indulgence. The indulgence is valid on August 15 for those who attend the 8 am French Mass in Leonville, those who make the procession by boat, and those who participate in the devotions at one of the many stops along the Teche. Those who are impeded for a serious reason from physically attending the procession may also gain the indulgence by spiritually uniting their prayers and trials. The Holy Father asks participants to pray for fidelity to the Christian vocation, for the good of the family, and for priestly and religious vocations. This grant is under the normal conditions which means that the faithful must have the intention to gain the indulgence, perform one of the indulgenced acts as given above, be in the state of grace at the time of the event, have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance within 20 days, receive Holy Communion, pray for the Holy Father’s intention, and be free from all attachment to sin, mortal and venial. To help facilitate the gaining of the indulgence, 15 priests will be available to hear confessions at all the stops along the way in Mobile Units.