The Holy Lieutenant

The Story of Fr. Joseph Verbis Lafleur

"My place is with the men."

Chaplains were religious guides that served in the army to provide spiritual relief to soldiers. In Opelousas, Louisiana, Fr. Joseph Verbis Lafleur, a parishioner of St. Landry Catholic Church, joined the U.S. Army during World War II as a chaplain. He would live in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his unit until moving to the Philippines. However, the Japanese began invading the Philippines, attacking the unit. When offered a safe landing in Australia to avoid another Japanese attack, Fr. Lafleur refused. Consequently, the Japanese captured Fr. Lafleur and his unit, placing them in a prison camp.

In the camp, Fr. Lafleur managed to offer Mass to his unit as well as assist the sick. One day, Fr. Lafleur decided to leave with the Japanese as a prison laborer, but the American army arrived, forcing the Japanese to put the laborers in a vessel. However, the vessel did not carry a P.O.W. flag, leading an American submarine to torpedo the ship. Although the prisoners wanted Fr. Lafleur to escape first, he refused so he could help everyone else escape first. Unfortunately, he did not make it out of the vessel. In 2007, St. Landry Catholic Church erected a monument dedicated to Fr. Lafleur for his heroism. Later, in 2020, Bishop Douglas J. Deshotel opened Fr. Lafleur’s cause for canonization, granting him the title “Servant of God.”



The Story of Fr. Joseph Verbis Lafleur
This recording summarizes Fr. Lafleur's spiritual and civil service in the U.S. Army. ~ Creator: Matthew D. Mayer
View File Record


1020 North Main St., Opelousas, LA ~ The monument sits in front of the main entrance of St. Landry Catholic Church.