Oil Dedicated to Charlene Richard
The Charlene Richard is dedicated to the young Louisiana girl
Charlene Marie Richard was a twelve-year-old Roman Catholic. She was from Richard, Louisiana. She has become the focus of a popular belief that she is a saint. Local Catholic diocesan officials permitted veneration of Richard for years prior to her being named a Servant of God.
Charlene was the second-oldest of ten children. Adults and children considered her to be smart but otherwise unremarkable. She was a devout Catholic. No more so than was customary in the local community. Also, Richard’s mother said, “She liked sports and was always busy with something. She went to church and said her rosary. She was just a normal little girl.”
Diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia
She reported appearances of a tall woman in black who vanishes. Her teacher recommended that she was not herself Her mother took her to a physician. As a result, only two weeks before her death she was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia. Consequently, she was hospitalized at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Louisiana. Fr Joseph Brennan informed her that she was going to die. Though the illness was painful, she remained cheerful. She meekly accepted her fate. She offered up her suffering to God. Brennan was deeply impressed by her faith. He visited her daily. While dying, Richard prayed for other individuals to be healed or to be converted to Catholicism.
The Director of Pediatrics, Teresa Crowly, also witnessed her calm acceptance of sufferings. Brennan and Crowley claimed that those for whom Richard prayed recovered from their illnesses. Or they became Catholic. Richard died on 11 August 1959. Subsequently, she was buried in Richard, Louisiana.
Belief in Richard as saint
Brennan and Crowley began telling people about Charlene. Floyd Calais, the chaplain of Charity Hospital in Lafayette, was a close friend of Brennan. In 1961, Calais began praying to Richard to be assigned to a parish. He was assigned to St. Edwards parish in Richard, Louisiana. This was Richard’s burial place—that same year.
Calais discovered the need to raise money to build a new church there. Calais says that he was “invited to retreats and recollections. He began speaking about Charlene. Of how she achieved grace before she died”. Also, about the need for money to build a new church in the parish. “People started going to her grave,” he said. “They began sending cheques to build the church. What I thought would take 8–10 years took 2 1/2.”
A 1975 series of articles about Richard in the newspaper spread the cult. They were republished in a booklet. The booklet “Charlene, A Saint from Southwest Louisiana”, in 1979. Testimonials by individuals who believed that they had benefited by prayer to Richard were added. The booklet was again republished in 1988. It was believed that Richard would intercede in heaven for people’s prayers to be answered.
News spreads worldwide
By 1989, the belief had spread outside the Cajun area. Hundreds of people were visiting Richard’s grave each week. It had been illuminated so visits could occur in the evening. A box had been provided in which to leave written petitions to Richard. On the thirtieth anniversary of her death that year, an outdoor Mass was held there. It was attended by four thousand people. Also, it was covered by Louisiana television stations. And the Cable News Network. Also, it was reported in newspapers in Louisiana, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Albany, and Seattle. The media coverage resulted in knowledge of Richard spreading world-wide. Approximately a thousand people attended anniversary masses there in both 1991 and 1999. Also, thousands come to her grave each year. Also, chartered buses from New Orleans.
In January 2020, Bishop J. Douglas of the Diocese of Lafayette officially opened the cause of Richard’s sainthood. It was during a Saturday mass at the Immaculata Center in Lafayette. Richard was officially named “Servant of God”, the first step in sainthood.