It was all about celebrating the Creole communities this past weekend. A historic multi-ethnic Creole Families’ Bastille Day celebration and commemorative was held in three Louisiana cities designed to bring the diverse Creole families together to celebrate their common heritage and culture. “It’s about love, cher, and we don’t want to lose our shared international, interracial culture,” stated Creole chef and scholar John A. La Fleur II of Washington, La. “It’s languages, it’s good food and it’s wonderful social traditions and joie de vivre.”
On Saturday, July 13, at 4 p.m. the weekend began at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marksville, Avoyelles Parish with a Mass In Honor of Ancestral and Contemporary Creole Families, followed at 5:00 p.m. by a public celebration at the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse Square.
Sunday, July 14 at 9 a.m. were the Opening Ceremonies in Ville Platte at the Evangeline Parish Courthouse. There was a Solemn Invocation and Honorarium of all multi-ethnic French Creole families and an introduction to the Bastille Day Festival. Music was provided by “Pain Perdu,” free information on Louisiana Creole families was disseminated by several participating parishes and books on Creole people, food, culture, language and history were sold to help fund the proposed multi-ethnic sculptural monument and future Louisiana Creole History Museum.
The celebrations continued at 2 p.m. at the St. Mary of False River Catholic Church, New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish. A Mass of Thanksgiving and Remembrance was celebrated by Msgr. Robert Berggreen, pastor, and Rev. Patrick Healy, SSJ, with music by the St. Mary Adult Choir and guards of honor by the Knights of St. Peter Claver and Knights of Columbus. During the second part of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Eucharist – the altar vessels included two of the community’s oldest and most treasured sacred artifacts: the chalice dated 1696, a gift to the faithful by Belgian nobleman Jean Rene Bouwens van der Boyen, Baron de Neeryssche; and the ciborium dated 1873, a gift by the pious Italian princess Maria Immaculata de Borbone- due-Sicilies e Borbone-Parma, Contessa di Bardi. When a storm began raging as the mass came to a close, the lights went out giving the attendees the opportunity to take advantage of our unexpected closeting to visit with each other. An open Reception followed at 3 p.m. at the nearby Julien Poydras Museum and Arts Centre, hosted by the Pointe Coupee Historical Society, Les Creoles de Pointe Coupee and Arts Council of Pointe Coupee, including an address by Mayor Robert Myer, French and Creole songs and light refreshments. John La Fleur and Brian Costello, co-authors, also held a book signing. (Visit http://www.courtableauhouse.com/CREOLECOOKBOOKSONLINESTORE.html for more information on the Creole cookbooks and related Creole history).
On Bastille Day, July 14, 2012, La Fleur organized and led the first multi-cultural public gathering and revival of the long suppressed, Louisiana French Creole ethnic heritage and culture in the south Louisiana parishes, with special attention given to unite both white and non-white Creoles. Having gathered religious leaders and concerned French Creoles La Fleur began a unique promotion and celebration of the French Creole heritage.