RICHARD, La. (KLFY) The story began in 1947 when Mary Alice Richard, wife of Joseph Elvin Richard gave birth to a baby girl, the second of ten children, whom they named Charlene.
People who knew her said she was just a normal little girl.
She went to church, said her rosary, and liked to “play mass” with her brother John Dale.
“My grandfather was a farmer and he planted sweet potatoes so they would have a lot of empty sweet potato crates but they werent the huge ones we have today. they were just small bushel size. so we’d take them and stack them and build a church.”
In the Spring of 1959, Charlene was playing in her backyard when she had a terrifying experience, one the family believes was an attempt to challenge her faith.
“She came running in the house and she was breathless and she was afraid. She said i just saw a lady all dressed in black with a black bonnet but she wasnt touching the ground, she was floating and she went right behind the big oak tree that was behind the house.”
A few weeks later, Charlene became ill and was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.
While she was in the hospital dying, she offered her pain and sufferings to God for the benefit of others and on August 11,1959 at the age of 12 she passed away.
More than 10,000 people from across the world visit charlene’s grave site each year.
Some have reported miracles, others answered prayers. and while local parishioners consider her a saint, the roman catholic church has not given any official approval towards canonization.
Others are hopeful Bishop Deshotel will rekindle that interest.
Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel will celebrate Charlene’s 58th anniversary mass of petition Friday, August 11, at 6-pm at St. Edward Catholic Church in Richard.
A rosary will be recited at 5:30-pm and a reception will be held after the mass.