There is a grave in Church Point, Louisiana of a girl who suffered and died at the age of 12 years old on August 11, 1959. The girl’s name was Charlene Richard. In southern Louisiana, she is known as our “Little Cajun Saint”.
The book, “My Name is Charlene“, by Rev. Joseph Brennan, has awe inspiring testimonies of people who knew Charlene during her days here on earth and those who have prayed to Charlene for her intercession and received miraculous healings. The testimony by Rev. Brennan was most touching as he recalls being the priest assigned to ministering to Charlene during her last two weeks on earth, in room 411 of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana. In fact, Father Brennan had the awful task of telling Charlene, at her parents’ request, about her illness and prognosis. In his testimony, Father Brennan recalls, “Then I said, “In a couple of weeks a beautiful lady is going to come and take you home”. Looking at me with those brown Cajun eyes, she said, “When that lady comes, I will tell her that Father Brennan said hello.””
Thus began a two week period of the young Charlene offering up her sufferings, willingly carrying her cross with Jesus. Father Brennan could not understand how someone so young could understand the concept of redemptive suffering. She suffered and prayed, and taught us all that no suffering is in vain.
Today, fifty years later, ten thousand people visit Charlene’s grave every year. It is a resting spot that I find peaceful beyond words. You feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when you combine your prayers and intentions to those ten thousand people and Charlene Richard.
God works miracles through suffering. His only Son was able to defeat evil and open those doors of heaven through his acceptance of God’s will and His suffering. Our loving mother suffered with her Son as she watched Him carry His cross and die on it. Suffering with faith is never easy; nothing that is good for the soul is ever easy. But, we must remember that Jesus showed us the Way. By picking up our crosses and walking with Him and trusting in Him. we can save not only our soul, but the souls of countless others.
Prayer to Charlene Richard
Charlene, when you were only twelve years old, you showed heroic faith, hope, and love; dying of leukemia, you joined yourself to Jesus on His Cross and offered your intense pain for others. You thereby echoed St. Paul’s words to his people in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, the Church.”
Charlene, I believe you are with God. Please ask our Heavenly Father, His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to grant me the following favor: (mention favor sought).
Charlene, thank you for helping me. May Jesus Christ always be praised. May Mary, Jesus’ Ever-Virgin Mother, always be blessed.