A Life Worthy of God, Memories and Notes

  • By Nonco Foundation Archives
  • 07 Dec, 2013

Submitted by Genevieve Hardy Angelle

´╗┐Genevieve Marie Hardy Angelle ~ May 10, 1930 ~ November 26, 2013.  The Nonco Foundation is indebted to Genevieve for sharing her memories of Nonco in what became her final days. 
When someone died, Nonco carried a booklet with him to the funerals he attended. It contained readings on: • Faith consoles where Love Mourns • Never Despair of the Salvation of a Soul • Our Duty of Love and Gratitude • The Chief Sources of Aid for Suffering Souls • Gregorian Masses • Formula of Heroic Act • United Consolation also contained Requiem Mass for Day of Burial. I feel sure Nonco used this booklet and the information therein--to comfort and assist the dying and comfort all mourners. Thank you to Genevieve Hardy Angelle for sharing this booklet and information with the Foundation.

Auguste Pelafigue was born on June 10, 1888, near a charming village of the pastoral zone in Beaucens, France -- not far from Lourdes, near the Pyrenees. His parents, Jean-Marie Pelafigue and Melanie Pere had five children -- Marie, Donatien, Adelaide and Auguste were born in France. After immigrating to the United States in 1889, they settled in Arnaudville, LA, where their fifth child Emilie was born.

Auguste Pelafigue, known as Nonco by many, lived in a homely two-room house that has survived the winds of time. Although the trees and bushes have been cleared, it remains a landmark. It stands as a reminder of the meek and humble life of a pious and devout man of God.

For most of his life, he had no electricity, which was his choice, and he had very little of monetary value -- but he never complained. His life was unmistakably one of contentment and fulfillment.

Everyone and everything was precious in his eyes. Like St. Francis, his menagerie of animals kept him company and brought him much joy. They were also a delight for all the young children, and later, their children -- in his family and the community at large.

There are not many living today who were not taught by Nonco every Saturday morning in Catechism classes. Nor are there many who have forgotten him as a substitute teacher at Little Flower Convent. His was a nurturing role -- as a teacher, a mentor and tutor to many. His smile mirrored the joy of his faith, his belief in God and his deep love for all of God's people.

Nonco's house was built on his brother Donatien's land, which was adjacent to the homes of two of his sisters, his nephews and nieces. There was a well-worn path that he followed, many times during the day, as he made short visits from house to house. He was especially fond and influential with the young cousins in the family. He was often found sitting on the steps or porch swing, telling them stories of the saints, Jesus and Mary, and also reminding them to study their Catechism and to say their morning and night prayers.

Every morning, before the break of dawn, Nonco arrived at the home of his sisters, Adelaide and Emilie, to tend to the farm animals and milk the cows before he attended Mass. On his return home from finished night chores, he daily carried a granite container of milk, bread and rice au gratin, his favorite.

His heart and soul were inflamed with love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Blessed Mother, Mary. He reached beyond human endeavor in Christian witness, service, and worship. There was much wisdom to be learned by means of his word and example. He was intelligent and knowledgeable, using his talents to bring Christ to others. Quiet, humble, faithful to God, devoted to his Church and Catholic teachings -- he inspired the young as well as the aged. He was committed to continue the work of the Lord here on earth. Many have acclaimed him as a "modern-day apostle"--a "living saint" of our time.

Nonco had no desire to acquire money or fame. He responded best to the human need of souls. He welcomed and greeted everyone with a shining spirit of warmth and affection. As a promoter of the Apostleship of Prayer, he left an imprint on the shoulder of roads leading to surrounding towns, as he walked to deliver Sacred Heart leaflets every month. The morning offering was printed on each monthly leaflet. He was instrumental in pointing out to all members how important it was to memorize and offer this prayer each day upon arising to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the monthly journeys, there was always someone to offer him a ride, but, in his younger days he politely declined. It was his way of doing penance, offering each step for the conversion of souls and for the poor souls in Purgatory.

He not only traveled country roads on foot in his service to God, he also walked countless times -- rain or shine -- to attend daily Mass. On feast days and Sundays he attended every Mass that was offered that day. For every Novena and every mission -- he was always present. On Holy Thursday, he spent most of his day praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He followed the Way of the Cross in the footsteps and imitation of Christ.

In 1953, Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard presented Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue a Papal Decree. For the Good Samaritan and faithful servant that he was, he humbly received this great honor in his beloved Church, St. John Francis Regis, in Arnaudville, LA.

On the day of his death, he was given a new birth. It was not surprising that it fell on the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus -- June 6, 1977.

There is a story told that at dusk, upon entering Nonco's house, a while after his death--a visitor commented on walking through years of accumulated dust. Using his flashlight, he pointed it to holy pictures on the wall. He was amazed to find the images dust-free--sparkling and bright.

All the lives he touched were deeply enriched by his example of Christian charity, virtuous deed and graceful manner. Small in stature, but great in strength--we thank God for his presence in our lives.



This is part of a letter Sister Rita (Sister Alfred, a Marianite Sister of the Holy Cross who was Nonco's niece) sent to her niece when she was missioned in Le Mans, France.  Last paragraph is an interesting observation:

January 10, 1988

Dear ViVi,

Thank you for the beautiful card, the nice letter, and the generous gift which I received today.  What a wonderful Christmas you had.  So glad Wilda went!  

Here, too, it was a good celebration.  Different, but enjoyable.

The weather is very damp but not really cold.  No snow for tourists!

Once when I asked Nonc O about the year of his birth, he said it was easy to remember -- all 8s.  So, today Nonc O would have been 100 years old.  I said a special prayer in his memory.


 
NOTES BY GENEVIEVE HARDY ANGELLE


Hardly anyone ever entered his two-room home.  He also had a pot belly stove.

He seemed content with very bare necessities.  It was not before his later years that he had a refrigerator and electricity.

He was not a big eater.  But, his sisters always had something for him and his nieces and nephews also served him from time to time.  

There was a high stool near a side door at Adelaide's home.  That's almost always was as far as Nonco entered his sister's home when he visited for short times during the day.

Once, when asked about the year of his birth, he said it was easy to remember -- all 8's (1888).




COMMENTS ABOUT NONCO


Spent a lifetime serving his God and his church.

He taught us the meaning of true Christianity by living an exemplary life.

The story was told that when she was a child of about 8 years old, she lived next door to Nonco. Every night before she went to bed, she would lift the kitchen shade to look towards Nonco's house. She would always find a dim light in his window. Years later, he told her that his desk was near that window--and most of the time he was reading in his Bible or prayer book, preparing his Sacred Heart Leaflets for delivery, etc. -- and, I'm sure that's where he prepared and planned his Sacred Heart Programs. That dim light was that of an oil lamp. He had no electricity then. (Not clear if Genevieve was referring here to Melanie Hebert Olivier or Sophie Pelafigue Montet. 

He was a soulful, holy man.

Nonco remained faithful to God his whole life.

With great sincerity and great piety of intention, he aimed in everything to do what was pleasing to God.

He was summoned to teach at Little Flower Convent in Arnaudville; and, public school in Krotz Springs, LA, to which he traveled by train.

He taught in Coteau Rodaire School, one of the oldest schools in LA, still in existence but moved to its present site at Huron School in 1951. It was originally designed by an architect to look like a small church. The one room now serves as a kitchen at Huron, SMILE School and still stands.  It is in St. Martin Parish.

Nonco attended college in Natchitoches, LA in 1909.

Nonco immersed himself in prayer -- devoted to praying for the Souls in Purgatory and doing penance for them and for the salvation of souls.

Mary Ann Olivier Meche who died on February 5, 2012, has a daughter named "Toni." Toni lived with her mother. Mary Ann would tell the story about her mother "Melanie Hebert Olivier who was Nonco's Godchild and niece. One day Nonco told her to come to his house. He had something to give her. Mary Ann accompanied her mother. Nonco wanted to give her some colored glasses found in oatmeal boxes, his mother's wedding ring and the Papal medal he had received in 1953 from Bishop Jules Jeanmard, Bishop of Lafayette, LA. He told his niece, his Godchild, to leave these gifts for Mary Ann upon her death. Mary Ann still had the item at the time of her death. What treasures these are!  These relics are now with Pam, Mrs. J.J. Angelle. 

Mary Ann was a young child, but she was one of the few people who entered his house. She remembered seeing books and papers piled on his bed -- with very little space cleared for him to sleep, so it seemed to her.


Another cousin tells the story she witnessed. Nonco would place rocks in his shoes to do penance for the poor souls in purgatory and for the salvation of souls. (By: Jan Montet Hebert. Jan's mother was Nonco's niece, Sophie Pelafigue Montet.

Nonco's father Jean-Marie Pelafigue is buried in Annie Vigneau's family plot in St. Pastout, France. Nonco's mother is buried in the Arnaudville cemetery in an unmarked grave.

After his wife died, Jean-Marie departed from Arnaudville in 1920 to move back to his native country. The children never saw him again.

Nonco is buried in the first closed masoleum in Arnaudville. It is located in back of Father Bernard's tomb.

The people who knew Nonco acknowledged him to be a saint.

Relatives in France:  Regis Lie and his daughter Natalie live in France. They are still living cousins who have kept in touch with the family. Regis Lie is also the father of Phillipe, Natalie, and Florence. (Natalie corresponded with Sister Rita and was kind to Mary Agnes Hardy Belleu and her husband Charles  Belleau when they visited France.)

Phillipe Lie lives in the home where Nonco was born. He lives upstairs and runs a bed and breakfast in the downstairs area.

Some of the Hardy family and other family members have visited their cousins in France.

In a Teche News Centennial Edition, April 2, 1986, entitled: The Teche Country--A Land of Legends, one article was entitled: "In Arnaudville, Deeds of three made them legendary: Rev. Msgr. Louis (Canon) Massebiau, JCD; Rev. Msgr. Daniel L. Bernard; Auguste Pelafigue.

Nonco's love of animals was evident from the many animals he cared for in his fenced-in yard. he young family children would stand against the fence to view the animals. There were cats and dogs, chickens, bantam roosters, guineas, pigeons, exotic birds and a peacock.


By Nonco Foundation Archives 05 Nov, 2017
Via Facebook, Raymond Clause, sent the following about "Nonco."  Thank you, Raymond!

"I lived close to his house.  He spent his life for Jesus Christ and Catholic Church in Arnaudville.  I can't began to tell you all the good things he did. It's an honor for me to have known him. 

He taught me religion and most of the kids in my age group.

I know he has a place in heaven.  May God bless him!"

By Nonco Foundation Archives 19 Oct, 2017
My mother had her 12th child on July 26, 1938.  It so happened Nonco stopped by our house that day to deliver the Sacred Heart Leaflets for the month of August.   My sister Emelie, who was 13 at the time, answered the door and told Nonco that Mama couldn't come to the door as she had had the baby that day and was in bed.  It was a little girl.  Nonco said, "Aw that's so nice.  Tell your Mother she should name the baby Margaret Mary after the Sacred Heart Apostle."  And, that is how our beautiful sister Margaret Mary got her name.   

Only God can create such beautiful stories.   
By Nonco Foundation Archives 04 Aug, 2017

Our thoughts and prayers continue in the truly deserved Sainthood for Nonco.

I remember him at church in the morning during the week and on Sunday. I always remember him in a suit. He would pass out Sacred Heart leaflets before mass and after. He also delivered leaflets to our house......that was a long walk from his house to mine.

Hot are cold weather sported the black suit. I remember the plays my twin brother and I participated in at the Little Flower Auditorium on that scary stage. That was just me, the shy person I was. LOL

GOOD LUCK TO THE NONCO FOUNDATION. CONTINUE THE GOOD WORK.

GOD'S SPECIAL BLESSING TO ALL!!!


By Nonco Foundation Archives 21 Dec, 2016
Congratulations to everyone who put together “The Nonco Story.” It is very professional.

The artwork by Vincent Darby is absolutely beautiful. The way he depicted Nonco’s little house is just the way I remember it as a child. It really brought back memories.

I remember standing on that front porch with my brothers and mother as we visited Nonco one day after hearing he had a puppy he wanted to adopt out to a good home. We were thrilled when he agreed to let us have the puppy. It became our beloved family dog for many, many years! Who could possibly go wrong with a family dog given by Nonco! That was the memory that flashed in my mind when I saw Mr. Darby’s artwork in the video.

Raphael “Ray” LaPorte
By Nonco Foundation Archives 19 Nov, 2016
I can still remember him walking, my great grandmother, Anaise Marks used to live across the street from the railroad tracks and we would always see him walking. If only we had known how strong he would be! God Bless His Soul !
By Nonco Foundation Archives 29 May, 2016

Mike Stutes, who was the janitor at St. Francis and Little Flower School, had this moment with Nonco....

"I would unlock the doors of the church at 5:30 in the morning for 6 o'clock Mass. One winter day I first opened the door on the south side of the Church, entered and walked to the door on the north side, under protection from the blistering north wind. When I opened the door, Nonco was standing there, shivering in the cold in the teeth of that North wind. I let him in and said " Nonco when you arrive before me go wait for me on the south side of the church so the north wind doesn't hit you so hard. Nonco simply said ‘That's OK.  I just offer my suffering up to Jesus, thank you.’”


By Nonco Foundation Archives 28 May, 2016

 I remember the children's plays he would put together and direct for Christmas and Easter at the Little Flower Auditorium. I remember he either delivered the scripts I had to recite directly to me or to my Mom. The scripts were written on a torn piece of paper. I guess I was doing this between the ages of 6 to 10.

I remember going to his house with my Mom and he had all kinds of animals... his goose chased me around the yard one afternoon and pecked me.

I remember him at church in the morning during the week and on Sundays. I always remember him in a suit. He would pass out the Sacred Heart leaflets before and after Mass.

I remember the little house on the bayou where Mom said he would watch my oldest brother Charles during the day while she worked at the store. The shutters had like a pine tree image cut out of them. I remember Mom saying he was a teacher in either northern or central Louisiana before he came to Arnaudville... I think?

He was such a kind, spiritual, dedicated to his faith man.

 

Dave

 


By Nonco Foundation Archives 08 May, 2016

As I ponder what prompted me to agree to work with Jerry Richard, someone I did not know, on the beatification and canonization of an old man from my childhood, I realize that special forces were at work.

The story begins…

 About four years ago now, I was visited by Jerry Richard. I knew his parents, Wilma Miller and Lawrence Richard. I knew his brother Lawrence Richard, Jr. who had married Gloria Schexnayder.  Wilma and Lawrence Sr. were friends of my parents, Nola Artigue and Clarence “Choat” Arnaud. They were about the same ages and Lawrence and my father were in the Little Flower Council 3621 of the Knights of Columbus. They were also both farmers and as farmers in the area often did, they would lend a helping hand when needed.

When Jerry and I met at my kitchen table, he asked if I remembered Nonco and told me that he wanted to work on his canonization. Would I be willing to help? he asked. Well, in my family, we have a hard time saying “No.” I immediately heard myself agreeing without thinking what might be involved. As Jerry and my husband recounted K.C. stories, I was already questioning my sanity.

It had been a difficult eight years.  The 10 years or so before then, I had devoted to caring for my mother and volunteering at my church parish.  One day, my life fell completely apart.  I found pornography on a church computer.  My pastor had me train in the program called "Create a Safe Environment for Children."  I knew that the matter had to be reported.  And, it had to be reported to the F.B.I.  The next morning when I attended Mass, my world had changed.  My church parish -- my friends -- had turned against ME!  What did I do wrong? 

Now, Jerry was asking ME to help canonize Nonco.  I was not even sure I knew what I believed anymore.  But, as soon as I was able, I started researching the process of beatification and canonization and realized that in my lifetime, I would not see it happen. It does take time. I was getting pretty close to my seventies; but, instead of throwing in the towel, I could not let it go. My next reaction was:  I had better get a move on!

I accumulated forms and studied how others had become saints. In particular, never curious about him before, I read about St. John Francis Regis, the patron saint of our little town of Arnaudville. Among many other things, St. John Francis Regis had helped destitute women by having them make lace in order to support themselves. I was being drawn into something magnificent! But, Jerry Richard went away. I did not hear again from him for two years.

One day, Jerry Richard reappeared. He wondered if I was ready to work on Nonco. Always quick tempered, I immediately (almost screamed!) responded: “Don’t ask me to do something if you are only wasting my time. Two years ago, I started this and you did not do what you said you would. Are you serious or not!”  Thank God, Jerry has a calm spirit and we quickly came to an understanding. We set a plan of action and a time frame.

Daily, I express my gratitude to God for the abilities He has given me. I believe all of my work experiences have led me to this one great thing in my life--the canonization of Auguste "Nonco" Pelafigue.  Working for Attorney J. Minos Simon and then Oilman Baker Littlefield, helping establish an artist presence in Arnaudville after Hurricane Katrina and helping a dietitian work on a nonprofit corporation gave me what I needed to help set up a 501 (c) (3) corporation and a website for the Auguste “Nonco” Pelafigue Foundation, Inc.

On June 6, 2012, Jerry Richard personally carried the documents to the Louisiana Secretary of State Office.  He even covered the charge for filing. We were official.  We did not have any money with which to operate. But, it was the 35th Anniversary of Nonco death.  He died on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

During the Christmas Season of 2013, Charles Hardy suggested that although we had limited funds, we should visit the nursing home in Arnaudville and make small donations to two of the residents.  We selected two couples who had known Nonco.  We enjoyed our visit there but something was happening to me. As I walked the halls and greeted the residents, I knew I wanted to do more at the nursing home.  In January 2014, I asked the Nonco Foundation Board if I could start an Apostleship of Prayer League of the Sacred Heart Group at  J. M. Morrow Nursing Home. They agreed.  On February 6, 2014,at 9:30 a.m., we handed out leaflets to the residents and had our first Apostleship of Prayer Nonco Group meeting. We asked the residents to bring leaflets to their roommates who were not physically able to attend the meeting, and to family members who visited.With the help of my husband, my sister Mavis Fruge, Jerry Richard's sister Lucy Romero and Henry Charles Taylor, we had made it happen!  Nonco's work was continuing.

But, something else happened.  I felt drawn to return to the nursing home.  I wanted to talk to Mathilde Bourque about Nonco.  When I did, I felt her love and her strength.  It was so inspiring that I wrote about it and asked Harriet Lofton, the administrator, if I could post it on the nursing home website.  My plan was approved and I have written almost one story a month since then. 

On Thursday, my visit day at the nursing home, KATC TV 3's Mycah Hatfield interviewed some of the residents and me and the segment which broadcast told of how I was recording their stories.  I told her it was because of Nonco.  He visited many residents of Arnaudville in his lifetime.  He planted the idea in my mind.  His ministry is alive and well in Arnaudville. 

We, the directors of the Nonco Foundation, face daily challenges.  This is a full-time job for me.  I complain sometimes that I do not have any free time -- and I don't.  I give it all away.  But, progress is being made. Jerry and I have been joined by many people who are just as devoted to the cause as we are. But why?

My memories of Nonco began before I started school. This funny little man would come walking to our house which was probably four miles from where he lived. He would not come in nor stay long and his little dogs would be running around him. He seemed so peaceful and he always had time to say a kind greeting to us children. In my earliest memories of the man, I knew he was holy. Before I attended school, he delivered Sacred Heart leaflets and we learned our Morning Offering from our mother and those leaflets.

When I did go to Little Flower School, Nonco was my teacher.  He was very strict just like my parents were.  I am certain I tried his patience as much as I did Mom and Dad's.  Once, he donated a rabbit to be raffled because the nuns needed some piece of equipment.  I don't remember how I got a nickel to buy a chance but I did and I won the rabbit.  I remember Nonco struggling to get the wooden crate on the bus and under a seat so that I could bring it home.  Our bus driver, Mrs. Ruby Gil Broussard, was not at all happy.  Nonco talked her into allowing the rabbit on her bus.

I was in one of Nonco's plays that I remember.  My line was:  "Comment je detest ce haricots vert."   I don't know why my line was in French but I remember it was.

It has been over six years since I started working on Nonco's canonization.  So many times things just seems to happen.  For example, I was looking for a certain image of the Blessed Mother to add to the website.  I looked online and in books and could not find what I wanted--my idea of the Blessed Mother.  Finally, in desperation, I pulled out the prayer cards of the many funeral I have attended in my lifetime.  At last, I found the perfect image.  When I turned the card over, it was the prayer card of Cecile Pelafigue LeBlanc, Nonco's niece.  I do feel Nonco's presence.

The people who had gotten involved in the work of the Foundation have become great friends.  We seem bonded together on this great mission.  It is not often that we are called to work on something so important.    I had not visited the nursing home very much.  Walking the halls and greeting the residents moves something in me.   All of this has happened because of Nonco. I have a new ministry and a stronger faith than ever before.

Last month, I asked the board if I could start a group at St. Agnes Nursing Home in Breaux Bridge.  To my surprise, the nursing home is owned by Paul Jude Hardy, a great nephew of Nonco.  We will  hold our first Apostleship of Prayer Nonco Group meeting there on June 15, 2016.

So, although Nonco died on June 6, 1977, his mission continues.  The Apostleship of Prayer and League of the Sacred Heart continues.  The oldest organization of St. John Francis Regis has survived all of these years because of Nonco's devotion.  The priests from Arnaudville, Monsignor Robert "Bob" Angelle, Father Gary Schexnayder, Father Mike Arnaud, Father Brian Taylor, have pledged their support to help get Nonco canonized.  They believe he had a great impact on our lives. 

Life goes by so fast.  Already, we have lost the help of Genevieve Hardy Angelle, Jean Taylor, Clarence C.J. Robin--all charter members of the Nonco Foundation.  We ask you to stand with us.  If you have any memories of Nonco, please share them with us.  If you have any documents or pictures that pertain to Nonco, please at least let us make copies of them. If you have anything that Nonco used, please let us photograph it if you don't feel you can donate it to the Foundation's archives.

Thank you.

By Nonco Foundation Archives 19 Feb, 2016
Growing up in our small 100% Catholic community of Arnaudville in the 50's and 60's, the church (St. Francis Regis) was the center of our life.  Attending Catholic school (Little Flower of Jesus) and attending daily mass was a major part of our existence.  I didn't meet a non-Catholic until I was in high school!

My sisters, Mary Ann, Pearl and I delivered Sacred Heart leaflets for our mother, Mrs. Lawrence Richard, Sr., (Wilma Miller).  Mom was one of Nonco's promoters, which meant she helped to distribute his Sacred Heart leaflets.  We delivered them to our Richard cousins and Smith neighbors along Highway 31.

I have fond memories of Nonco's plays.  Each year, he presented a program with children and adults of the church parish as participants.  Nonco amazed me as he was a "one-man show" as far as arranging everything.  He prepared the script with readings, songs, logistics...  all written out in his handwriting.  I remember how we walked on stage following his "tape" path to our designated places.  Reading our "parts" was my debut to public speaking!  He instilled confidence in many children with his presentations and their participation.

I was in awe of him as he was always moving and "doing" in honor of the Sacred Heart.  In my book, he is already a saint, a role model.  He was never in a hurry; he sort of shuffled in his too large suit which he always wore and his large shoes. I always thought it odd how a small man of stature had such large feet!!

He walked everywhere he went and declined offers of a ride.  I heard stories of how he had a lot of animals.  My brother, Jerry, has often said that Nonco was the director of the first Arnaudville zoo!!

Amazing how a small stature of a man has had such an impact on a small community...the Acadian town of Arnaudville.  How blessed we were that God sent Nonco to us!! Yes, he was indeed a Holy Man!!!!

August 6, 2012, Elaine wrote:  "Nonco was a big influence in my life as a child. He was a spiritual role model to everyone in Arnaudville."

By Nonco Foundation Archives 16 Jul, 2015

Remembered Nonco when I was seven and eight years old. We lived in Arnaudville and moved away when I was in the fourth grade. I still remember his looks. He was always walking. He had an off white suit he’d wear. He had a rosary, prayer cards, and a prayer book with him. I remember him looking at me, because I was staring at him.

I hope this little bit of information will contribute to his consideration for sainthood.


Wayne Chautin


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