Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A visit to Lafayette

I was in Lafayette for a conference of Catholic college students the weekend before last and found myself being asked to give a talk on Acadian history--with ten minutes advance warning. It seems the organizers wanted to take the kids to St. Martinville, but hadn't been able to find a guide. Well, I found a thing or two to talk about, including my experiences at the 1999 and 2004 CMAs. Together we went to the Acadian Memorial, where I found they had reinstituted the admission fee, which hadn't been in effect the last time I was present.

I asked the lady at the desk whether she might be able to waive it for this group of students, and she didn't feel she had the authority to do so. A few of the students went ahead and paid, and while we were looking around, she called up another staff member who was at the visitor center across the street, who encouraged her by all means to give the group a break. She tracked me down and passed on the message, and I related it to the rest of the group. I went across later to chat with the lady, a Mrs. Melanson, and to thank her.

It was a wonderful and generous gesture, and it made the students very happy.

Even more significant, the priests and sisters who were spiritual directors for the weekend told me later that a lot of the students found this side trip -- which became for them a real pilgrimage -- one of the highlights of the weekend. There were many Cajuns in the group who didn't know a thing about our history!

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