If anywhere in the world the prophecy of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her great canticle, the "Magnificat," that all generations would call her "blessed," has been carried out or fulfiled, ertainly it has been so done among the descendants of the Acadian exiles to Louisiana, and in Southwest Louisiana particularly. That is true also of the old French families of the area, and it is true likewise in a high degree about the people of Arnaudville section, where devotion to Our Lady and her rosary has long held sway.
The scapular and the rosary were religiously accepted from the beginnings of the parish, and after the War Between the States, there was a Confraternity of the Living Rosary at St. Francis Regis Church. With the advent of Sisters Marianites of Holy Cross in 1891, devotion to Our Lady was greatly furthered by these devout religious among the children. Not long Afterwards, the Sisters at St. Joseph's School proposed the formation of the Children of Mary or Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Such an organization had long been highly popular in the parishes of Louisiana, popularly called "Les Enfants de Marie,"
and in fact, first established in New Orleans at the Ursuline Convent as early as 1730.
Archbishop Janssens had impressed upon pastors the requirements that no organizations be formed in the parishes without direct notification to and approbation by the Ordinary of the diocese. Thereupon, in 1895, Father Morin referred to His Grace the Sisters' plans for the formation of "a Sodality of the Children of Mary, also to have it affiliated with the Prima Primaria at Rome... It is the Superior of the Convent at Arnaudville who is in charge of organizing everything. She proposed it."
On February 7, 1896, Archbishop Janssens sent formal approbation of the Children of Mary of St. Francis Regis Parish to Father Morin, who duly signed the certificate, adding the notation: "The congregation (Sodality) has been canonically erected with all the formalities required." The precious historical document is preserved in the archives the rectory.
Like the other parish societies, the Children of Mary Sodality had its many vicissitudes. In 1915, Father Mollo had found the Sodality in a dwindling state, so he set about reorganizing it, and in 1916, he had so revived it that it counted a membership of 38, and in 1917, it counted 45 Sodalists. The number increased to 65 the following year, and to 70 in 1922. But after he was transferred from the parish, interest waned and the society declined. In 1929, there were 40 members. Father Verhoeven sought to infuse into it a new spirit, and once more the Children of Mary Sodality revived, recording 46 member sin 1931, and increasing to 56 in 1933.
Then in 1934, Monsignor Massebiau aroused the enthusiasm of the girls in the parish in the Sodality and shortly thereafter the enrollment went up to 70. The next year the rolls listed 156 Sodalists, and in 1936 they numbered 192. In 1938, the Sodality was divided into two groups--the seniors and the juniors. Their combined membership was 210 that year. Father Bernard gave this organization his special attention, and aroused their enthusiasm and piety even more than before. The records that first year of his pastorate (1944), showed 199 Sodalists enrolled, but in 1946, the number had grown to 210, and in 1949 to 237.
And so the Children of Mary have carried on the Louisiana tradition of love and homage of the Blessed Mother, and have helped fulfill Our Lady's own prophecy that "all nations shall call me blest."
*ONE HUNDRED YEARS of the UPPER TECHE by Roger Baudier, Sr., K.S.G., pages 94-95.