The ‘Friends of Lt. Fr. Lafleur’ request your presence on Thursday, September 7, 2017 for 6:30pm Mass at St. Landry Catholic Church, Opelousas, LA. to commemorate the 73rd Anniversary of the death of Lt. Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur, Chaplain-United States Army Air Corps. The Celebrant and Homilist will be Rev. Brad D. Guillory, Chaplain, Capt, USAF. Also in attendance will be priests and deacons of the Diocese of Lafayette.
Joseph Verbis Lafleur was born in the Louisiana town of Ville Platte on January 24, 1912. Later, he would move with his family to nearby Opelousas, where he faithfully served as an altar boy at St. Landry Church during his youth; and where he also celebrated his first Solemn Mass following his ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lafayette in 1938. Fr. Lafleur’s first and only diocesan assignment was to St. Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville but he soon joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was sent to serve at Clark Field in the Philippine Islands before the United States entered the War.
For his heroic military service, Father Lafleur was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, and Bronze star for his valor. He is currently up to received another Distinguished Service Cross medal. He was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese and chose to stay with his men rather than be evacuated. His days were spent offering daily Mass in the prison camp, working as a slave laborer with the men, attending to the wounded, hopeless and dying. On September 7, 1944, he and several hundred other prisoners were killed when the ship upon which they were being transported was torpedoed. Father Lafleur’s body was never recovered, but statements by survivors report that he was last seen aiding others to escape the sinking ship, refusing to leave the last of them. The year 2017 marks the 73rd anniversary of Fr. Lafleur’s death.
All are invited and encouraged to attend the Memorial Mass on September 7th. Learn more about Father Lafleur by visiting http://www.fatherlafleur.org for further information and by purchasing the newly published book “But He Dies Not” available in Catholic bookstores in Lafayette and at the Memorial Mass.