New Charlene Cover

The Little Cajun Saint


Although she died more than four decades ago, the example of her faith continues to influence many lives. Does Louisiana have its own saint?

a book by

Barbara Dever Gutierrez

RIP: Barbara passed on Sunday, March 4, 2018. She is now joined with Charlene and her husband Rickey in Heaven

"Charlene" WINS AWARD!
Charlene, The Little Cajun Saint, written by Barbara Gutierrez, former editor of Acadiana Catholic, has been awarded third place in competition conducted by the National Catholic Press Association. The book is a biography of Charlene Marie Richard, a girl from Richard, LA who in 1959 died of leukemia at the age of 12, but despite her own suffering in the brief two weeks before her death, exhibited a maturity of faith and love for others that has led tens of thousand to believe she is a saint. Bishop Edward J. O'Donnenell, who wrote the foreword to the book, captured the essence of Barbara Gutierrez's reflection on the life and death of Charlene with these words, "Somehow this simple girl from southwest Louisiana touched the hearts of thousands of people and helped them understand better the meaning of love." Every year more than 10,000 people visit Charlene's grave, seeking her intercession. This award was in the category of "books by small publishers."


Edward J. O'Donnell, D.D., Bishop of Lafayette, Louisiana

In his classic book, The Secrets of the Saints, Henri Gheon writes, "Of all great hearts, the greatest is still the heart of a saint. For it wants to contain not only its neighbor, strangers, all suffering, sinful, warring humanity -but God Himself. The love of a saint is unhuman because it is superhuman. It demands grace from on high, a vision clear or dim of an end above man's nature, an end from which man's nature draws its truest dignity. Men can only love one another as brothers when they know themselves for the sons of one Father. Outside this universal fatherhood, there is no bond strong enough to unite men permanently in love. The bonds that pleasure knots are weak; the bonds that self-interest knots are harsh."

An example of such saintly love is found in the life of a young girl from Acadiana who died decades ago, but who leaves behind a legacy of love that all of us can emulate. Charlene Richard is an example to all of us living our life in Christ. She accepted everything that came to her, the bad as well as the good, as coming from the hands of a good and loving God. She knew that God was good and would not treat her badly, and so she had confidence in his continuing goodness to her, even in the light of illness and pain.

Somehow this simple girl from southwest Louisiana touched the hearts of thousands of people and helped them understand better the meaning of love. Mrs. Barbara Gutierrez has done a signal service to the Church in presenting this life of Charlene Richard.

Father Joseph Brennan
Fr. Brennan During the summer of 1959 Charlene became very ill and was admitted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette, LA where Father Brennan served as chaplain. She was diagnosed as having acute lymphatic leukemia in an advanced stage. Father Brennan saw how much agony the young girl was enduring and talked with her about the Christian concept of offering pain and suffering as a prayer for the benefit of others. Charlene readily and eagerly accepted Father Brennan's suggestion. From that day on, she offered her pain and discomfort as a prayer for whomever Father Brennan suggested might benefit most from her intercessory prayers. She died on August 11, 1959.
"She was a faith-filled little girl," says Father Brennan. "I see Charlene as a witness for people of all ages to the power of resignation and acceptance of God's will. She wasn't different in any way except that when the crisis came in her life - and it came very early - she accepted it with faith and trust and love."

Author's Comments

"When I began researching the Charlene Richard story in 1975, it appeared at that time to be just another assignment for me in my capacity as feature writer for the official newspaper for the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, where I had been employed for a little over a year. While we hoped that the five-part series which resulted would generate interest among our readership, none of us on staff at that time were prepared for the overwhelming response.

Three years after publication of the original articles in the diocesan newspaper, we were still getting requests for the Charlene Richard story, so it was decided that we would compile the articles into one volume, printed in the form of a book. The resulting volume, entitled Charlene, A Saint from Southwest Louisiana? was published in 1979. In a year's time, the bulk of the five thousand copies printed had been sold. Within five years, the book was out of print. It was revised and updated in 1988. After a quarter of a century, it remains on sale in bookstores today. Charlene .

Barbara Gutierrez, Author - Lafayette, Louisiana

Charlene's Special Friend

Fr. CalaisFather Floyd J. Calais was paster of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Abbeville. Of the more than forty people interviewed for this series, it is Farther Calais' name which seems to be mentioned most in connection with Charlene. He is not only a firm believer in the reality of Charlene's prayers and intercessions, he is also the one probably most responsible for the spreading devotion to her..... Interestingly enough, Farther Calais never met Charlene. It was only after her death that she came into his life in so strong a way...

"I know that all of what I have to tell of how Charlene has personally affected my life can be written off as just coincidence," said Father Calais. "That's the way faith is. There is never any concrete proof. Faith means believing in something that we can't prove. I can't prove that Charlene did actually have a hand in the answers in all that many instances I prayed for her intercession. But after a while, too many things happen too many times to just be able to call it coincidence."...


To order Charlene: The Little Cajun Saint , please print, cutout and mail in this form

Please send me _______ copies of Charlene: The Little Cajun Saint
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Please make check or money order payable to: CHARLENE
Mail with order to: CHARLENE, 111 Bocage Circle, Lafayette, LA 70503

Friends of Charlene Association

With official sanction from the Diocese of Lafayette Louisiana the Friends of Charlene Association was formed. It is a private organization whose objective is to spread information concerning Charlene Marie Richard.
As belief in Charlene's intercessory prayers has increased and word of her heroic faith has spread, the tomb of the young girl, located in the cemetery of St. Edward Parish in Richard, Louisiana, has become a shrine. Thousands of pilgrims have visited her grave seeking help through her prayers. Many leave written petitions on her grave and personal items such as rosaries and medals, all because they believe in the tomb lies the body of a saint.

To get to Richard, La. from I-10 west or east take Exit 87 (also marked as Rayne, Church Point Exit) and turn north onto LA Hwy 35. Travel for 10 miles to LA Hwy 370. Turn left onto Hwy 370 and travel for six miles to stop sign. Turn left and travel for about one-quarter mile. St. Edward Church and cemetery will be on your right.

For more information or prayer cards, write: Friends of Charlene, P.O. Box 91623, Lafayette, LA 70509-1623.

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