Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - South Louisiana Catholics and beyond have, at least, an awareness of who Charlene Richard is. Dubbed "The Little Cajun Saint," a group of people have been advocating for her canonization to an official saint of the Catholic Church.

After years of prayer and an intensely involved process by the Diocese of Lafayette, documents detailing Charlene's life and the reasons for the request will be delivered to the Vatican.

Diocese of Lafayette
Diocese of Lafayette

Charlene Richard lived with her family in the small Acadia Parish community of Richard. The devout Catholic girl was diagnosed at the age of 12 with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia and died two weeks later.

She suffered at the end of her young life and offered her pain as a prayer for others who were ill and those she hoped would be converted to Catholicism. A priest and a nun who visited her every day in the hospital claimed that the people Charlene prayed for were healed or converted.

Charlene Richard
Facebook via Diocese of Lafayette

The Diocese of Lafayette began gathering testimonials about miracles attributed to Charlene's intercession in 1991.

One family believes they witnessed a miracle involving a newborn. A baby girl was not expected to survive, but the grandfather brought a prayer cloth and a picture of Charlene, which he laid on the infant's chest. He began praying and, within days, the little girl's health began to improve.

Charlene Richard prayer card
Facebook via Charlene Richard

Familiar names in the Diocese of Lafayette have been instrumental in seeing the cause for canonization advanced.

Fr. Floyd Calais, a beloved Acadiana priest who recently passed away, prayed for her intercession when he was Chaplain at Charity Hospital in Lafayette. His hope was to be assigned to a parish and, as it turned out, was named pastor at Charlene's home parish of St. Edward in Richard.

Bishop Maurice Schexnayder led the Diocese of Lafayette at the time of Charlene's death on August 11, 1959. He visited her grave often and referred to her as a saint.

Bishop Harry Flynn presided over a mass in 1989 celebrating the 30th anniversary of Charlene's death.

In January 2020, Bishop Douglas Deshotel opened the cause for her beatification.

People have traveled from all over the world to visit Charlene's gravesite in the community near Church Point, Louisiana, and ask for her intercession. Some of these visitors have offered testimony about their experiences that was inserted into the documentation to be sent to Pope Francis.

During an "unrepeatable ceremony," Bishop Deshotel will bless the documents and the the people involved in the preparation of the documents will give their oaths that they have completed their tasks. The more than 1,000 page body of work will be delivered to the Vatican in Rome by Fr. Korey Lavergne, pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church, so the Roman Phase of Inquiry can begin.

Charlene Richard documentation
Facebook via Diocese of Lafayette

Anyone who would like to witness the closing of the cause for Charlene's canonization is welcome to attend. The ceremony information is as follows:

When: Saturday, January 13, 2024, 10 AM
Where: St. Edward Catholic Church, 1463 Charlene Hwy, Church Point, LA

The ceremony won't be very long, and you're invited to bring a lawn chair if you'd like.

Parking will be in lots surrounding the church, and shuttles will be available from parking areas to the ceremony site.

Parking information
Facebook via Diocese of Lafayette/Korey LaVergne

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