Friday, August 27, 2010

Pastor's Corner - Father Lafleur Anniversary Mass

Pastor's Corner

On Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 6:30 p.m., we will celebrate the annual memorial Mass for Fr. Verbis Lafleur. 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. As most of you know, there is a beautiful monument in the front of our Church to celebrate Father Lafleur’s memory. Fr. Lafleur is an example to all of us in giving over his life to God and his neighbor, namely his "neighbor" being fellow soldiers and prisoners of war during World War II. By all accounts, his life is something we should try to imitate because of his fearless willingness to serve God, neighbor and country. Fr. Lafleur's biography follows this Pastor's Corner. His call to priesthood was first received and nurtured here at St. Landry Church starting as an altar server. I hope we can all join together for this special celebration of his life, and to see the fruit of God's work in our parish. This year a book titled "But He Dies Not”, has been published. The authors, Pete and Suzanne Guerra, will be attending the mass and will be autographing copies of the book. The book chronicles Fr. Lafleur's life here at St. Landry Church, in our diocese, and then his distinguished military service. It is "required reading" for those who want to know about the history of St. Landry Church. For more information about Father Lafleur, please visit There, you can learn about his life, download prayer cards, and even submit prayer requests.

Father James Brady

Fr. Verbis Lafleur's Biography

Fr. Lafleur was born on January 24, 1912 in Ville Platte, Louisiana. In 1926, his family moved to Opelousas, Louisiana. From early in his life, he felt a calling to the priesthood. Father Colliard, pastor of St. Landry Church at the time, arranged for young Verbis to enter St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary in St. Benedict, Louisiana in 1927. For 11 years, he prepared for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s Seminary and at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was ordained as a priest on April 2, 1938. Fr. LaFleur then celebrated his First Solemn Mass in St. Landry Catholic Church April 5, 1938.

Father Lafleur’s first assignment was St. Mary Magdalene in Abbeville, Louisiana. He joined the Army Air Corps in the summer of 1941, nearly one half year before the U. S. became involved in World War II. Father Lafleur was assigned to Albuquerque, New Mexico, until he was assigned at Clark Field in the Philippine Islands just a few weeks before it was attacked on December 8, 1941. For his bravery in action, he won the Distinguished Service Cross and was later awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. After that, he became a Prisoner of War for approximately two and one half years including stays at O’Donnell, Cabanatuan, Davao, and Lasang. On September 7, 1944, Father Lafleur gave his life while aboard a torpedoed “hell ship” carrying over 700 American Prisoners of War. By all accounts, Fr. Lafleur gave his life helping other prisoners off a prisoner ship the Japanese had not marked as "non-combatant”, while many of his fellow prisoners protested because they believed he should evacuate because his life and ministry was more important to the other prisoners who might survive.

In 1945, Father Lafleur's classmates and family members gathered in Ville Platte for a Memorial Service in his honor. The Knights of Columbus in 1946 held a parade in his honor from the Opelousas Court House to St. Landry Catholic Church. Notre Dame Seminary Alumni dedicated a bronze plaque in his memory on November 27, 1951. On May 21, 1989, he was honored at the dedication of the Chaplain Hill monument at Arlington National Cemetery. On December 7, 2005, a dedication of the Father Lafleur Shrine in St. Landry Catholic Church, Opelousas, Louisiana, was held. On September 7, 2007, the Father Lafleur Monument was dedicated at St. Landry Catholic Church, Opelousas, Louisiana.