Auguste "Nonco" Pelafigue was a humble man whose love for the Sacred Heart propelled him to devote himself to teaching in his local community.
Born in France, Auguste Pelafigue immigrated to Louisiana with his family in 1889. As he grew up, Pelafigue devoted himself to the Catholic faith and was especially drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
He joined the Apostleship of Prayer (now known as the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network”), and would help the local chapter hand out leaflets of the pope’s monthly prayer intentions.
According to Ken Stickney for the The Acadiana Advocate, Pelafigue was a man who kept to himself, but also spent his life for the service of others.
[Pelafigue] was not the type of person who would socialize or even spend time outside of his hometown. Exceptions would be teaching, church activities and his long walks through the countryside to deliver League of the Sacred Heart leaflets to a swelling membership that eventually reached 1,400.
He walked everywhere on foot, refusing rides, saying that, “by walking long distances he was doing penance for troubled souls.”
In addition to his efforts in delivering pamphlets, he was also a catechist, teaching children religion and spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart. The Layfette Diocese gives a brief biography of his efforts.
On Saturdays he taught religion to public school children, and during the summer, Christmas and Lent, he introduced children and adults of the area to the stage by inviting them to perform in Sacred Heart programs and plays he personally wrote and directed for the children.
He was affectionately known as “uncle,” which in Cajun French was “Nonco.” He was “everybody’s uncle,” according to Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of Lafayette.
On account of his tireless work for others, 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.
His efforts were awarded with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal, a recognition by the Holy See of his selfless work for the Church.
Pelafigue died in 1977 and his cause for canonization was officially opened on January 11, 2020. The USCCB gave their approval for his cause on November 17, 2021, during their annual assembly.