Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Year for Priests: a chaplain's story

There's no lack of inspiring stories about military chaplains, whether in our current war zones, or in history. I remember hearing about the heroic Father "Frenchy" LaFleur (nickname courtesy of his seminary classmates) from his sister, Edna.
Edna Delery lived two doors down from my grandmother with her husband and their little black poodle, Missy. The Delerys (minus Missy) came to Thanksgiving and other family occasions at Maman's house, and since Mrs. Delery was blind and somewhat frail, we visited her home (and Missy) on occasions. It must have been on one of those visits (after I had already entered the convent) that Mrs. Delery told me about her brother, a military chaplain who died in a Japanese P.O.W. ship somewhere in the Pacific. I thought the story deserved some press, and wrote it up for our publication, "The Family" magazine.
Now, after following a few links on Twitter, I have learned that his family in Lafayette is working on promoting Fr. LaFleur for sainthood. (Here's something from the memorial Mass held to mark the 65th anniversary of his heroic death.)
Amazingly, when I wrote to the parish to inquire about the Mass (on my behalf and that of my godmother), the person who answered me recognized my godmother's last name and made his own inquiry. Turns out, his very first silent retreat was at the old Jesuit novitiate in Grand Coteau, LA. It was March 1999. While on retreat, he watched a grave being dug in the Jesuit cemetery, and later, still in silent prayer, watched the burial. Now, every time he goes for a retreat, he goes to that grave and prays for that unknown Jesuit brother, my uncle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recall Edna Delery, teary eyed, standing before a picture of her brother, Father LaFleur. Her story of his bravery was related to our family members many times. His life and death mirror an earlier Saint, Maximilian Kolbe.