BAYOU TECHE — The eighth annual Fête-Dieu du Teche will be held on Monday, August 15. The 40-mile Eucharistic Procession this year coincides with the three-year National Eucharistic Revival under way. The intention for the all-day spiritual and cultural celebration will be for a Renaissance Eucharistique in Acadiana and beyond.
Bishop Glen John Provost comments, “The Fête Dieu du Têche is a marvelous and fitting way to observe and contribute to the Eucharistic Revival which is on-going for us in the United States. The Most Blessed Sacrament traveling by boat on the bayou, which was a major channel of transportation for our ancestors, calls to mind the vital role that the Eucharist has played in the faith of Acadiana.”
August 15 is an important date 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 257th anniversary of the arrival of French-Canadian immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to Acadiana after enduring great trials and suffering.
In an effort to cultivate a deeper devotion to Jesus’ Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, boaters will be able to choose a patron from a list of 50 Eucharistic witnesses — saints and blessed who exemplified a life totally dedicated to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
Saints such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Jean Vianney, St. Katharine Drexel, Blessed Carlo Acutis and Mother Teresa will be highlighted. Boats will feature cutouts, flags, and banners bearing the name of their Eucharistic Saint and present quotations from them about the importance of the Holy Eucharist.
Families, church parishes, and Christian communities are encouraged to participate by registering a boat and traveling down the Bayou Teche or by following in their vehicle and gathering at the various stops for recitation of the Holy Rosary and Benediction. Catholic schools are also encouraged to join either by boat or by gathering at one of the stops along the way. Non-Catholics as well are welcome to come and spend the day in prayer.
Hosted by Father Michael Champagne and the Community of Jesus Crucified, the festivities will begin at 8:00 a.m. with Bishop Douglas Deshotel, bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, celebrating the Mass of the Assumption in French at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Following the Mass, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of Mary and St. Joseph will begin to the nearby boat landing for Benediction. At 9:30 a.m., boats will depart in procession down Bayou Teche toward St. Martinville — retracing the voyage made by the Acadians over 250 years ago — with stops along the way for Rosary and Benediction at churches in Arnaudville, Cecilia, Breaux Bridge, and Parks.
The Eucharistic Boat Procession arrives in St. Martinville on the banks at Notre Dame de Perpetuel Secours at about 4:45 p.m., just a stone’s throw from Longfellow’s Evangeline Oak. The foot procession departs from Notre Dame and makes its way to the “Mother Church of the Acadians”, St. Martin de Tours, for Benediction at 5:30 p.m.
Pope Francis has granted participants of Fête-Dieu du Teche a Plenary Indulgence. The indulgence is valid on August 15 for those who attend the 8:00 a.m. French Mass in Leonville, those who make the procession by boat, and for those who participate in the devotions at one of the many stops along the Teche. Those who are impeded for a serious reason from physically attending the procession may also gain the indulgence by spiritually uniting their prayers and trials. The Holy Father asks participants to pray for fidelity to the Christian vocation, for the good of the family, and for priestly and religious vocations.
Itinerary for Boat Procession on Bayou Teche
8:00 a.m. Holy Mass in French with Bishop John Douglas Deshotel, D.D. at St. Leo the Great Church, Leonville
9:00 a.m. Procession from St. Leo’s to the Leonville boat landing
9:30 a.m. Boat Procession departs
10:20 a.m. Arrive at Arnaudville and disembark for Rosary and Benediction
11:45 a.m. Arrive at Cecilia and disembark for Rosary and Benediction
1:35 p.m. Arrive at Breaux Bridge and disembark for Rosary and Benediction
3:15 p.m. Arrive at Parks and disembark for Rosary and Benediction
4:45 p.m. Flotilla arrives at St. Martinville behind Notre Dame; Foot Procession to Notre Dame de Perpetuel Secours for Benediction
5:00 p.m. Procession from Notre Dame to St. Martin de Tours Church for Benediction
5:30 p.m. Procession down Main Street to Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel for Solemn Vespers & Final Benediction
6:00 p.m. Solemn Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at Mater Dolorosa Chapel