Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur

Father Joseph Verbis LafleurProfile

Joseph felt a call to the priesthood while still a boy, and he entered Saint Joseph’s Minor Seminary in Saint Benedict, Louisiana in 1927 when he was 15 years old. He studied there and at the Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana, being ordained in New Orleans on 2 April 1938. He served as parish priest at the church of Saint Mary Magdalen in Abbeville, Louisiana for three years, then joined the United States Army Air Corps in the summer of 1941, becoming a miltary chaplain with a commission as a lieutenant. He trained in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then was assigned to Clark Field in the Philippines, serving with the 19th Bombardment Unit, and arriving a few weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II. For his actions during the war, Father Joseph was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, and two Distinguished Service Crosses for bravery in action. His unit was captured by the Japanese, and for the next two and half years he was moved from one prisoner of war camp to another. When the POW transport ship he was on was torpedoed, Father Lafleur refused his chance to escape, remaining behind to help the other men out of the sinking ship. Those who made it to shore last saw him in waist-deep water, helping others. His Cause for Canonization has opened.



  • drowned at sea on 7 September 1944 when the ship he was on, the Shinyo Maru, went down off Sindangan Point, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
  • his body was not recovered

MLA Citation

  • “Father Joseph Verbis Lafleur“. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 April 2019. Web. 19 April 2021. <>