Report from Louisiana: Fete Dieu du Teche

By: Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE, LA – I’m not Catholic by faith, but this is the coolest thing I’ve seen lately. Just beautiful.

Each year on August 15, Acadians participate in Fete-Dieu du Teche, which is “a 38-mile, all-day boat procession down the Bayou Teche that celebrates the arrival of the Acadians more than 250 years ago.” This year was the fifth year for the procession to travel Bayou Teche. While many communities host the feast of the Assumption procession by foot, this boat procession is believe to be fairly unique.
It is something to see.

As reported by the Lafayette Daily Advertiser:

“The procession of dozens of boats memorializes the Acadian’s exile from Canada and migration to south Louisiana.The feast is also important for Catholics, as the Blessed Virgin Mary is the patroness of Acadiana and its people.

Thursday morning began with a French Mass at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Along the way were four stops — behind St. Francis Regis in Arnaudville, behind St. Joseph Church in Cecilia, the Pavilion behind St. Bernard Church in Breaux Bridge and the park behind St. Joseph Church in Parks, before ending at the Old Market Street in St. Martinville.”

There is a Facebook page for the event where folks could watch live videos of the procession all day.

The day began at 8:00 a.m. with a Mass in French at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville and then proceeded down Bayou Teche with stops along the way with stops in designated towns for Rosary and Benediction.

The Catholic News Service explains:

“Having a Eucharistic procession by boat on the waters of the Teche rather than by foot in the streets makes a lot of sense,” said Father Michael Champagne, a priest of the Community of Jesus Crucified, who is the organizer of the event. “Fete-Dieu du Teche on the feast of the Assumption recalls our rich Acadian history and, in a way, reenacts 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. Champagne explained that 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.”

As the boats move down the river one can see the statue of Mary in front and priests and laity members in their vestments kneeling in the boats as they proceed from one town to the next, stopping to disembark and minister to crowds gathered on the banks.

It’s a powerful and moving thing to see.

I’m Episcopal by faith, (my husband calls it “Catholic-lite”) but no matter what faith you are, you can’t help but be moved by the sights and sounds of this procession.

Raw links for this post:
Photos of the procession: https://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/multimedia/photos/collection_88635440-bf89-11e9-9d1e-d3bd1ca3c33f.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share&fbclid=IwAR0ZUWt-1my401cPWnqQjGgIeJoVUQZ9Uzyi9Vjq2bS-FZYWx2UUj2ueac8#1

Lafayette Daily Advertiser: https://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2019/08/15/acadians-and-blessed-virgin-mary-celebrated/2003527001/?fbclid=IwAR2xpTPHHv0YVmiVLohUyeS9qIPIRV92PDC8JIoNGUIXUIaMqmm9-3KTolU

Crux: Catholic News Service: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2019/08/03/eucharistic-boat-procession-to-mark-assumption-acadiana-history-faith/