Come Marinate in the Word! 100-Hour Public Bible Reading will help celebrate the 100-Year Anniversary of the Diocese of Lafayette
Fȇte-Dieu du Teche will host the Jubilee of the Word Marathon in the Town Square of St. Martinville beginning on Wednesday April 4, at 12:30 pm. and concluding on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m. Organizers expect the event to draw over 3,000 people to come and “marinate” in the Word of God. The Diocese of Lafayette officially celebrates 100 years as a diocese this year and to celebrate the event the Holy Bible will be read publicly from cover to cover without pause in the square of the Diocese of Lafayette’s oldest church parish, St. Martin de Tours. The Church parish was canonically erected in 1765.
Bishop John Douglas Deshotel, D.D., a native son of Acadiana and the current Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, will begin the event by reading from the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis on Wednesday, April 4, at 12:30 p.m. Bishop Emeritus Michael Jarrell, D. D. will conclude the Bible reading on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, at 4:30 p.m. Bishop Glen John Provost, M.A., D.D., also a native son of Acadiana and Bishop of Lake Charles, will join the celebration by reading on Thursday, April 5, at 3:30 p.m.
During the four days of continuous reading, 300 lectors from the various 121 church parishes in the Diocese of Lafayette as well as faith leaders from other denominations from across Acadiana will be employed. The Jubilee of the Word Marathon will help to accentuate the rich cultural heritage of the region by including various nationalities and languages represented in the diocese. In addition to English, selections of the Bible will be read in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
The special event is not only intended to help render thanks to God for the proclamation of the Word of God for these past years, but also to “prime the pump” and re-ignite a love for the Word of God and its practice in life. “People everywhere love to exercise. It’s important to stay in physical shape, which is why many participate in Iron Man races, triathlons, and marathons. And we wanted to provide a way for people to spiritually exercise!,” says Fr. Michael Champagne, of the Community of Jesus Crucified, organizer of the event. “We, as Catholics, and all men and women of good will, need to ‘knock the dust off’ our Bibles and begin to ponder God’s plan for our lives. In these chaotic times we often get confused about how we are to act in our personal lives, in our families, at work, and in our dealings with others. God’s pre-eminent way of speaking to us is through the Sacred Scriptures. Every page of the Bible recounts God’s burning and fatherly love for us, and this event will be a reminder of that love.”
Over 1,000 people were in attendance at the Bible Marathon held two years ago to close the Jubilee of Mercy. Sr. Anne-Marie, a novice of the Community of Jesus Crucified, attended as a volunteer. She recounts, “It was very peaceful just to sit and listen to the Word of God. It was wonderful to see all the different faith groups coming together to proclaim the love of God for His people.” “The love and reverence of those who attended the Bible Marathon inspired me to grow deeper in my faith,” reports Br. Damien Daigle.
Lisa Schmidt commented, "Reading the Bible again just reminds you how important and rejuvenating it is to read always. Scripture is eternal like God because it is alive.” Miranda Kidder was in attendance at the first Jubilee of the Word Marathon and reflects, “The Bible Marathon brings together different denominations together around the Holy Scriptures which unite us.” Many Bible studies were spawned as a result of the public Bible Reading in the square. During the Bible Marathon priests will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by means of the Spiritual Care Unit (SCU – Mobile Confessional). For Catholics who are properly disposed, the Holy Father Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to those who read or listen for 20 minutes from the Holy Bible in the Square during the event. Organizers are asking all lectors to invite at least 10 people to come along with them and listen to the Word while it is being proclaimed in the Square.
Fete-Dieu du Teche, LLC is a non-profit Catholic association directed by Fr. Michael Champagne, CJC. It is dedicated to preserving and promoting the Catholic Faith in the Acadiana area. It is devoted to the New Evangelization - the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ anew, with a new zeal, a new vitality, a new credibility, with new methods, to those who may have drifted from the Church and are in need of a re-evangelization. Fete-Dieu du Teche has implemented several initiatives to help promote and revitalize the Faith.
In 2015 it began an annual Eucharistic Boat Procession down Bayou Teche on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15. This year, to commemorate the centennial of the Diocese of Lafayette, the Boat Procession will be on the Vermilion River, beginning at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Abbeville with a French Mass celebrated by His Excellency Glen John Provost, D. D., Bishop of Lake Charles, at 8 am. Following Holy Mass, 121 boats will depart and then proceed 25 miles upriver to Lafayette with the exposed Blessed Sacrament. There will then be a two-mile foot procession with the Blessed Sacrament up University Avenue in Lafayette, culminating at St. John Cathedral for Solemn Vespers at 5 p.m. followed by another French Mass., celebrated by Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, D.D.
At the beginning of the Year of Mercy an old ambulance was converted into a mobile confessional and put into service traveling throughout Louisiana and making stops where people gather. To date the unit has made over 130 stops at various locations such as health clubs, ball games, grocery stores, malls, and theaters. The SCU has been the occasion of over 5,000 confessions.