All three would be saints of the 20th century.
The list of canonized saints from the United States might soon be notably lengthier, with the bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana, set to advance three causes.
Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel is advancing the causes for Charlene Richard and Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue.
A third cause, for Lieutenant Father J. Verbis Lafleur, requires collaboration from two other bishops since he was in the military, but is also moving forward.
Charlene Richard (1947-1959)
Known affectionately as “The Little Cajun Saint,” she was a middle school student and athlete who died at the age of 12 in 1959, just two weeks after being diagnosed with acute leukemia. She embraced her illness bravely, uniting her sufferings with Christ. Shortly before being diagnosed, she had read a book about St. Therese of Lisieux, and asked her grandmother if she, too, could become a saint.
5 Saints who died as children
Auguste Nonco Pelafigue (1888-1977)
Nonco was a teacher who produced children’s plays, but also someone who shared his love for Christ and especially his devotion to the Sacred Heart. In 1953, his pastor requested that he receive pontifical honors, describing him like this:
He goes out on foot to visit the fallen away, invites them to prayer of the league [of the Sacred Heart]. He teaches catechism to the public school children. He teaches in the Catholic school. All out of love of God…No pay! He organizes religious programs for the encouragement of the weak, and the edification of the strong.
Lieutenant Father J. Verbis Lafleur (1912-1944)
Ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Lafayette in 1938, he was assigned a parish, but when World War II broke out, he volunteered as a military chaplain. He was taken a prisoner of war, and gave his life while saving the lives of his fellow servicemen during a torpedo attack aboard a sinking Japanese P.O.W. ship off the coast of the Philippines in the final year of the war.