Saturday, August 14, 2010

Father Lafleur Memorial Mass

The Father Lafleur Memorial Mass

The Lieutenant Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur Memorial Mass will be at 6:30 PM, September 7, 2010 on the anniversary of Father Lafleur’s death at St. Landry Catholic Church, 1020 North Main Street, Opelousas, Louisiana.

The mass will be celebrated by Father Francis Lowe, a military chaplain currently stationed in Arkansas, whose father was a prisoner of war alongside Father Lafleur during World War II.

For the last several years, St. Landry Catholic Church has hosted this annual Mass in honor of one of its former altar boys; it was, in fact, through the help and guidance of the pastor, Father A. B. Colliard, that a young Lafleur was eventually able to enter the seminary. Today, some of Father Lafleur’s relatives in the Opelousas area are still parishioners of St. Landry Catholic Church. In 2007, a monument in honor of his memory was erected on the church grounds.

After being ordained to the priesthood in 1938, Father Lafleur went on to serve both his church and his country as a military chaplain during World War II. He and more than 600 other prisoners were killed when the Japanese ship transporting them was torpedoed. Although Father Lafleur’s body was never recovered, survivors later recalled that he was last seen trying to help others escape from the sinking vessel. In the years that followed, Father Lafleur’s family received letters from many others to whom he had ministered during the war, sharing their stories of how deeply the priest’s selfless actions touched and inspired them.

In October 2008, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Joseph Guerra assisted the Lafleur family in submitting a request to the U.S. Army, asking that Father Lafleur be considered for the Medal of Honor. While the family is still awaiting a decision on that matter, Lt. Col. Guerra has authored a book which chronicles Father Lafleur’s heroic endeavors as a military chaplain. The family is hopeful that the book, which is currently being printed by the local Andrepont Printing business, will be available in time for this year’s Memorial Mass.

Those who are interested in learning more about Father Lafleur are encouraged to visit for further information.