Focus On FaithLouisianaSt. Landry

Opelousas Celebrates Anniversaries With Non – Stop Bible Reading


Opelousas, LA- Holy  Ghost  Catholic  Church  in  Opelousas  and Fête-Dieu  du Teche will  host the  annual  Bible  Marathon in front  of  Holy Ghost  Catholic  Church,  747  N. Union St.  in  Opelousas.    The public Bible reading will begin on Ash Wednesday February 26at 12:30 pm and conclude on Sunday, March 1at 4:30 pm. The unique 5-day event is intended to celebrate the tricentennial of Opelousas and the centennial of Holy Ghost Church and the role faith has played in Acadian history and culture. Retired Bishop Michael Jarrell,  a  native  of  Opelousas,  will  kick-off  the  event during   the   noon   hour   on   Wednesday. Bishop   Jarrell   has participated before in the Bible Marathon and stated, “I extend congratulations  to  all  at  Holy  Ghost  Catholic  Church  on  the occasion of the centennial of the church and to everyone in Opelousas  for  300  years  of  existence.    May  God  continue  His providential care for years to come.” Bishop Douglas Deshotel will  join  the  Marathon at  4:30  PM followed  by  Opelousas Mayor  Julius  Alsandor  and  Zydeco musician Geno Delafose later Wednesday evening. State Attorney General Jeff Landry will read at 10:50 AM on Thursday. Of the celebration Jeff Landry states, “For over 300 years the Acadians and Creoles have forged a life here in Louisiana.  The foundation of which is their faith in God, dedication to their  family,  and  their  love  for  the  land. Happy Birthday!” Bill   Stiles,   the   Chief   Deputy   Attorney General will also participate, “More than ever, we need to be reminded that we are God’s people. Throughout the  Bible,  story  after  story,  chapter  after  chapter,  we hear about God’s people falling and  God  lifting  them back up. ” Bible  Marathon  participants  will  have  the honor  of  welcoming  Governor  John  Bel  Edwards  on Saturday  when  he  reads  from  the  Bible  at  8:30  AM. “I’m truly honored  to  be  included  in  this  faith  filled event celebrating the 300th anniversary of the beautiful city  of  Opelousas  and  the  100th birthday  of  the  Holy Ghost Church that means so much to this community and has been at the center of the culture and history of Acadiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “I pray continued blessings for all and many more wonderful years to come. ” Many Opelousas natives will be participating during the 100-hour. Bible  Marathon. All  are  invited  to  bring their Bible and join by gathering around the stage and listening to the  Word  of  God. Keith  Hebert,  a  resident  of Opelousas,  has  participated  in the  Bible reading a number  of  times  in  St.  Martinville.    He  was  blessed by the experience and says, “I just know that anyone that participates in the Bible Jubilee in Opelousas will also be blessed and will enjoy the experience.” The event drew  over 3000  people over  the  course  of  the five days last year in St. Martinville.


During the five days of  continuous reading, 300  lectors from the various  church parishes in the Diocese of Lafayette as well as faith leaders from other denominations from across Acadiana will be employed. The Bible Marathon will help to accentuate the rich cultural heritage of the region by including various nationalities and languages   represented   in the   region.   In   addition   to   English, selections  of  the  Bible  will  be  read  in  French,  Italian,  German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The special event is intended to help “prime the pump” and re-ignite  a  love  for  the Word of God and its practice in life. “People everywhere love to exercise. It’s important to stay in physical shape, which is why many participate in programs such as CrossFit and compete in Iron Man races, triathlons, and marathons. And we wanted to provide a way  for  people  to  spiritually  exercise,”  says  Fr.  Michael Champagne,  of  the  Community  of  Jesus  Crucified, one  of  the organizers of the event. “We, as Christians, and all men and women of good will, need to ‘shake the dust off’ our Bibles and begin to ponder God’s plan for our lives. In these chaotic times we often get confused about how we are to act in our personal lives, in our families, at work, and in our dealings with others. God’s pre-eminent way of speaking to us is through the Sacred Scriptures. Every page of  the  Bible  recounts  God’s  burning  and fatherly love for us, and the Bible Marathon is a reminder of that love.” Fr.  Lambert  Leinis pastor  of  Holy  Ghost and  co-sponsor  of  the event.  He recounts, “ Conscious that 300 years of the city of Opelousas and 100 years of Holy Ghost   Catholic   Church   is   not   merely   our journey  alone  as  people  but  our  journey  with God the Almighty, we wanted to magnify his name by reading his holy words written in the Bible. We choose to do so because his word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).


”Vicki Richard read last year and sees it as “ an amazing experience to read God’s word and to see all the people coming out to hear and spread his message: true evangelization, which is what God has called us to do. ” Sr. Anne-Marie, a religious sister, attended as a volunteer. She recounts, “It was very peaceful just to sit and listen to the Word of God. It was wonderful to see all the different faith groups coming together to proclaim the love of God for His people.” “The love and reverence of those who attended the Bible Marathon inspired me to grow deeper in my faith,” reports Br. Damien Daigle. Lisa Schmidt, a resident of St. Landry, commented : ” Reading the Bible again just reminds  you  how  important  and rejuvenating  it  is  to  read  always.  Scripture  is eternal  like  God because it is alive.” Miranda Kidder of Breaux Bridge was in attendance at the first Jubilee of the  Word  Marathon four years  ago and has attended every year.  She reflects, “The Bible Marathon brings together different denominations   around   the   Holy   Scriptures which  unite  us.”  Many  Bible  studies  were spawned   as a   result   of   the   public   Bible Reading   in   the square and   the   event   has inspired other Bible Marathons such as annual readings at  McNeese  State University  and  in New Orleans on Carrollton Avenue.

During the Bible Marathon priests will be available for celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation by  means  of  the  Spiritual  Care  Unit  (SCU –Mobile  Confessional).  Catholics  who  are  properly disposed can  obtain a  plenary  indulgence by  reading  or  listening for 30  minutes  from  the  Holy Bible in the Square during the event. Organizers are asking all lectors to invite at least 10 people to come along with them and listen to the Word while it is being proclaimed in the Square. “ We need proclaimers of the Word, but also hearers of the Word, and most importantly Doers of the Word” recounts Fr. Champagne. In a prepared statement, Bishop Deshotel writes, “On behalf of the entire Diocese of Lafayette, I am happy to wish the city of Opelousas a happy 300thanniversary and Holy Ghost Parish a happy 100thanniversary.  Part of the anniversary observance will be a reading of the entire Bible, the word of God, beginning on Ash Wednesday.  The Bible is a record of God intervening in our human history through the events, persons and literature found there.  God’s intervention culminates in the person of the  Son  of  God,  Jesus  Christ  becoming  man. ‘Philip,  he who  has  seen  me  has  seen  the Father.’ May these observances deepen and enrich the faith of all believers. ” Lectors  will  be  reading  from  a  very  special, handmade  Bible  during  the  Marathon.  The Bible measures 12” x 18” in its closed position and  weighs  nearly  25  lbs.  The  Bible  was blessed  by  Pope  Francis for  the  first  Bible Marathon  held during  the  Year  of  Mercy in 2016 and  has  since  been  used  in seven other Bible Marathons hosted across Louisiana.


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