Journey to Sainthood and Acadiana’s “Little Cajun Saint”

All Saints Day is a solemn day in the Catholic Church honoring all of the saints.

“Everyone is called to be a saint. A saint is anyone who is in heaven,” says the Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, Bishop Douglas Deshotel.

He says that the saints are ordinary people who had extraordinary faith.

“The church officially declares someone to be a saint, it means that they can be venerated by the whole church all over the world as a saint. They can be models for the Christian life for whatever their sanctity showed while they were living here on earth,” the Bishop explains.

Some saints died for their faith, others were model teachers or performed great works of charity.  The process of canonization begins with gathering evidence of intercession. Usually, there’s a miraculous medical cure that occurs that has no scientific answer.

Next, the local bishop reviews the evidence to determine if the person is worthy of canonization. After the bishop’s stamp of approval, the information moves to Rome to be reviewed by the congregation for saints causes.

“Then they make a recommendation to the pope. And the pope is the one that has the final say so on whether a person is declared a universal saint or not,” says Bishop Deshotel.

The canonization process is long and expensive, but locals in Richard, Louisiana are pushing for their “Little Cajun Saint” who is buried at Saint Edward’s to be recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Father Joseph Brennan spoke with News Ten about Charlene just days before he passed away. It would be his last interview with the media. He told us he was a hospital chaplain and newly ordained priest in 1959 when he was asked to tell Charlene that she had leukemia and that she would not recover.

“I said, ‘Charlene, in a couple of weeks a very beautiful lady is going to come and take you home.’ And she looked up at me with those big round Cajun eyes and said ‘When she comes I’ll say Father Brennan said hello.’,” says Father.

Charlene died 13 days later, but not before asking Father Brendan who she should offer her prayers and sufferings for.

More than 10,000 people visit Charlene‘s gravesite each year. Miracles of physical and spiritual healing have been documented but the Diocese of Lafayette does not recognize her as an official saint just yet.

“I think it’s very likely that she’s probably a saint already in heaven it’s just a matter of doing the paperwork,” says Bishop Deshotel.

Many are praying and waiting to see Charlene canonized.

Father Brennan said, “I’ve been praying for it for 58 years as a priest and maybe it’s going to come time now. We will wait for the church to speak.”


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