THE LITTLE FLOWER SHOWERS ARNAUDVILLE
From: ONE HUNDRED YEARS of the UPPER TECHE
We read in the life of St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus, that she promised to spend her heaven sending upon earth a shower of roses, graces she would obtain from Almighty God. Arnaudville, after 1934, became a place favored by the little Saint and privileged to be the scene of such a spiritual shower as she had promised. It all grew out of the faith and priestly zeal of its next pastor--Rev. Louis Massebiau, J.C.D., former pastor of Delcambre and Broussard.
Bishop Jeanmard, after the resignation of Father Verhoeven, cast around for some energetic, pious priest who could give the venerable Parish of St. Francis Regis of the Upper Teche, with its 95 per cent Catholic population, the necessary spiritual impetus. Father Massebiau had left the Broussard pastorate on July 14, 1933, and was appointed chaplain of St. Patrick's Sanitarium at Lake Charles. His health was impared, but nevertheless, he went to St. Peter's Church at New Iberia in September, 1933, to assist Monsignor Langlois.
On May 18, 1934, Bishop Jeanmard appointed him pastor of Arnaudville. Father Massebiau was already nearing his 67th year, and in a physical condition that prompted retirement from the active ministry. However, he bowed in obedience to the directions of his Bishop and accepted the burdensome task of striving to revive the spirituality of an ancient parish and improve its physical assets. Arnaudville parishioners were jubilant, because Father Massebiau was a mature priest, a scholarly man, a devoted priest whose reputation they well knew, and a lovable character.
The new pastor was a native of Veyreau, France, born October 7, 1867. After studies at the Rodez Seminary and the Catholic Institute at Toulouse, he was ordained on April 16, 1892 at Rodez, France. In 1912, he decided to dedicate himself to the service of the Louisiana missions and on January 29, 1913, Archbishop Blenk incardinated him in the New Orleans See. He was assigned to St. Augustine's Church in New Orleans as assistant, then as assistant at Mater Dolorosa Church in the same city. Father Massebiau had a brilliant mind, was a forceful orator and held a degree of Doctor of Canonical Jurisprudence. He was named Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII in 1943, so we shall refer to him under his title of Domestic Prelate.
In 1917, he was sent to Patterson as administrator of the parish, then to Delcambre in 1919 as pastor, but in mid-year (1919), Bishop Jeanmard sent him to Broussard as pastor, where he labored devotedly for 14 years. It was then that failing health made him resign, but in a spirit of priestly sacrifice he accepted the post at Arnaudville, truly as inspiration of Divine Providence.
When he came to St. Francis Regis Church in May, 1934, he promptly surveyed the parish and readily grasped the pressing need for a spiritual revival before all else....
Monsignor Massebiau went to work with extraordinary vim. And to the latter, we may credit his remarkable achievements in only 10 years. He had tremendous faith in St. Theresa, the Little Flower of Jesus, patroness of the missions, so he dedicated the parish and his work to her and besought her intercession for God's special graces for the spiritual revival of his parish....
The people of the Upper Teche just naturally opened their hearts to Monsignor Massebiau and to God and His graces as the results of his incessant pleas to the Little Flower for the people entrusted to his pastoral care. The shower of roses from the Little Flower had started with remarkable celerity--it was nothing short of amazing. During 1933, there had been 4655 persons receiving Holy Communion. In 1934, there were 10,420, more than double!
If the Little Flower of Jesus had begun a shower of roses in 1934, she sent a veritable rain in 1935, as devoted Pere Massebiau prayed unremittingly for the conversion of his people. There was a very decided change in attitude on all sides....
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