Mass set for descendants of Chahta

Sacred Heart of Jesus Church will host Chahta Day, beginning with the celebration of the Mass on Saturday, 10 a.m., at 28088 Main St. in Lacombe. The day will be a homecoming of Chahta family members of all faiths who are spread throughout various churches on the north shore near village sites such as Bonfouca near Slidell and Hygeia near Lacombe, and into the greater New Orleans area.

There will be talks to remember local church history, including St. Linus and Sacred Heart and the ministry of Father Adrien Rouquette, who was known as Chahta-Ima.

The Rev. Kyle Dave, pastor at Sacred Heart said, “This is a Mass for descendents of the Chahta.” All are invited “for a time of healing and reconciliation that is needed in our country.”

“The Trail of Tears was an injustice and a tragedy suffered by those originally in the area of this parish,” he said, referring to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Davis said the parish has its roots in Father Rouquette, a missionary priest who until his death in 1887 “had an affinity for the Chahta.”

Joan Dubrey-Ducre, a parishioner at Sacred Heart, said, “This is the first Mass to be celebrated for the Chahta since Father Rouquette was a minister here. There have been many to celebrate his birth and death, but never specifically for the Chahta in this area.”

Davis called it a new beginning for the Chahta in his parish. “They have never really been given an opportunity to be validated as who they are,” he said.

Following the Mass, there will be a social held in John Davis Park off U.S. 190 in Lacombe.

“People can bring a picnic lunch and chairs and come out and join us for a day of fellowship and reunion,” Dubrey-Ducre said.

There will be singing, drums and dance, she said, because it’s important for children to experience their customs “which are not associated with Mardi Gras but is something associated with we, the indigenous people. This was our culture before Mardi Gras ever was.”

For information on Chahta Day, call Joan Dubrey-Ducre at (985) 882-5009 or Noreen LeBlanc at (985) 649-1803.