Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

By Pamela Seal 
Diocese of Lake Charles 

The Cajun language is not dead! This is something to celebrate, or even better, write a book to spread the good news. That is exactly what Father Roland Vaughn has done.

A retired priest for the Diocese of Lake Charles, Father Vaughn is doing his part in keeping his Cajun roots and Catholic faith alive with a new book, “The Tough Ones: An Insider’s View of the Cajun Culture.” 

An African Proverb on the book’s back cover reads: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” 

“The Tough Ones” is Father Vaughn’s accurately descriptive, and at times humorous, effort to keep his family’s library filled with stories from his own experiences as well as stories from those he visited with over the years, especially as a child. 

“My main reason to write the book is for those people who are Cajun and never give a thought about it, to learn about it and be proud to be Cajun,” he said, noting this is his first published book. 

“There is a renewed interest in the Cajun language among younger people now more than there was 20 years ago,” he said. “This revival of sorts in the Cajun culture was inspiration for me to write the book.” 

A priest now for 52 years, Father Vaughn was born into a family that spoke Cajun, so that was his first language. To this day, he still prefers speaking Cajun over English, saying he only learned English because it was necessary for school but never had a love for it. 

“Bishop (Glen John) Provost and I are the only ones in the Diocese of Lake Charles who can preach in Cajun,” said Father Vaughn, noting that on occasion he has the chance to preach in Cajun for funerals. 

Dedicated to all Cajuns — past, present, and future — the book is especially dedicated to those born in the late 1800s who spoke no English, only Cajun, who gave quality time to Father Vaughn as a child and a young man by sharing their life stories. 

“This book is not about living in the past as much as it is about being open to the future. How can you know where you are going in life unless you know where you came from?” Father Vaughn expressed. 

“To set the tone, I begin the book with my personal experience of living in the Cajun culture,” he said. “I’ve been there, done that. I know what I am talking about.” 

Throughout the 12 chapters of the 121-page hardcover book, Father Vaughn gives the reader a glimpse of the culture, dialect, beliefs, and practices of the Cajuns. 

“Much of the book can be summed up with a focus on the Cajun mentality concerning the family,” he said. “The family is the most important thing to them. One thing I remember about my household is that everybody had a role in the family unit. This created a stability of security and comfort.” 

Growing up in Kaplan, Father Vaughn was the oldest of four with his youngest sibling being the only girl. His parents were married 38 years before his father passed away in 1977, and his mother five years later. 

“I remember as a small kid, divorce was unheard of, and if it did happen, it was a hush-hush thing. When a divorce happened, the family broke apart,” he remarked. 

“We always ate together as a family. Nobody could cook like my mother,” he recalled with smile. “She cooked extremely traditional.” 

To this day, Father Vaughn loves to dance the waltz and the two-step like his grandparents and great-grandparents did. 

“There was also a dance called the Cajun polka. I have seen it done when I was a young man, but I never had the opportunity to learn it. Now, I cannot find anybody alive that still remembers the polka,” he said with a bit of regret. 

Something he can look back on without regret is his path to the priesthood and the intertwining of Cajuns and his Catholic faith. 

“We had Canadian priests at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Kaplan, and they served the community very well,” he recalled. “But one fine day, we got a brand-new ordained priest as an assistant, Father Austin Leger. He was pure Cajun.” 

“Father Leger and I hit it off immediately, speaking Cajun-French and everything. His homilies, they preached a lot in French at the time, were so down to earth, understandable, and instructional. That really caught my attention.” 

Still in high school at the time, Father Vaughn remembers going with Father Leger to visit his parents, who spoke no English at all.  

“He was very country but an extremely effective priest, strict, but effective. He was my mentor. He rarely spoke to me in English,” he said. “We remained friends, and I preached at his 50th anniversary of ordination.” 

“The Tough Ones: An Insider’s View of the Cajun Culture” by Roland G. Vaughn, BA, M. Div., is the next best thing to listening to Father Vaughn tell his recollections of being a Cajun boy, then a young man, and finally a priest. Published on February 4, 2024, copies are available at www.amazon.com for $19.99. 

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