Fête-Dieu du Teche

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The fifth annual Eucharistic Procession down Bayou Teche

took place on Thursday, August 15. The date is important for Roman Catholics as it 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 254th anniversary of the arrival of French-Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering.  Having a Eucharistic Procession by boat on the waters of the Teche rather than by foot in the streets makes a lot of sense. Fête Dieu du Teche on the Feast of the Assumption recalls our rich Acadian history and, in a way, re-enacts the journey made by the Acadians 250 years ago.  The Acadians were persecuted for their Catholic faith and sent into exile from Nova Scotia. Many ended up settling in Louisiana.  Having a boat procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Assumption involving priests, religious, and laity is basically what happened in 1765.  In order to serve the Acadian settlers in the Attakapas district, Fr. Jean-Louis de Civrey accompanied the Acadians on their journey down the Bayou Teche. Fr. Civrey became the first resident priest. In his records, Fr. Civrey refers to his new home as “la Nouvelle Acadie” and his new parish “l'Église des Attakapas (Attakapas Church)” and later, “lÉglise St-Martin de Tours (St. Martin de Tours Church). It is believed that St. Martinville is named after the Church. Having the Catholic Priest accompany the Acadians on their journey to Acadiana is indicative of our ancestors’ great allegiance to their Catholic Faith, especially the Eucharist and Our Lady. Fête-Dieu du Teche today relives that original experience of the Acadians. Hundreds travel by boat to celebrate this occasion in honoring the Blessed Sacrament and Acadian heritage every year. Last year the event was held on the Vermilion river to help celebrate the centennial of the Diocese of Lafayette. Thousands travelled from throughout Louisiana and beyond to participate in the event. Many participated in the Eucharistic Procession by boat and others traveling by car and gathering along the banks of the bayou at the various stops. Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ traveled from New York to do a documentary on the Fête in 2017. He recounts, “I found the whole thing incredibly moving. It was beautiful to see an entire town coming together for prayer. It’s a sense of communal identity we just don’t see much anymore in the Western world.”

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