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Historic Dig: Artifacts of St. John’s Church & College Unearthed in Shreveport

by Jessica Rinaudo The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has garnered much attention in recent months for the archeological dig they are conducting on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. There the dig team More »

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Bishop’s September Reflection: The Resurrection of the Body

by Bishop Michael Duca I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. Most More »

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Classes and Podcast on Catholic Retrospective on the Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

by Dr. Cheryl White As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is using this More »

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New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening

by Jane Snyder The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler More »

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Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me

by Lucy Medvec Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  More »

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St. John Berchmans Catholic School Welcomes Changes!

by Kelly Phelan Powell With the advent of a new school year, St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport is undergoing some exciting changes. Former principal Jo Cazes retired this year after More »

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Vocations View: God is Persistent: Being Accepted to the Permanent Diaconate Program

by Mike Van Vranken I had just turned 28 years old and was standing in the vestibule of St. Michael Church in West Memphis, Arkansas with my pastor.  Thumbing through a pamphlet More »

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Navigating the Faith: Spiritual Direction

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship While our diocese does not have an abundance of lay spiritual directors, the number more than doubled in August as four more people completed two years More »

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Catholic Connection Wins Awards!

The Catholic Press Awards were held in Quebec on Friday, June 23, 2017, with Catholic publications from across North America competing in hundreds of categories. The Diocese of Shreveport’s Catholic Connection took More »

Historic Dig: Artifacts of St. John’s Church & College Unearthed in Shreveport

0917dig6

by Jessica Rinaudo

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has garnered much attention in recent months for the archeological dig they are conducting on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. There the dig team has unearthed, among other things, the old foundation of the original St. John’s Church and College, built in 1902.

Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral, has posted videos from their digs to the parish’s Facebook page, drawing tens of thousands of views and lots of local media attention. People, it seems, are fascinated by this delve into Shreveport and Catholic history.

The project began when Cathedral staff and parishioners were working on a book about the church’s history. Naturally, the old church and school were discussed when compiling this information. During their conversation, they had the idea to apply to have a state historical marker placed at the old church and school site.

Dr. Cheryl White, history professor at LSU-S and parishioner at the Cathedral, has been instrumental in getting historical markers for sites in the Shreveport area, so she was the natural choice to help lead this project.  To get started, she wanted to visit the site of the old church and college.

“When I got out there, I wasn’t quite sure of the location,” said Dr. White. “I went back to the university and took an old 1908 city map, and using software we infused it with a current city map so I could get the exact location of the church and college.”

She added, “We went from having a conversation about a marker to finding the site to the next thing asking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to see if we could find the foundation of the church?’ And that’s really all I thought we were going to do; we were going to go out there, dig a little bit of the foundation and we’d be done.”

Fr. Mangum added, “Within a few times of going there, we knew we had the site. .. We weren’t anticipating finding anything!”

But they didn’t just find the church foundation. As the team, composed of Fr. Mangum, Dr. White, excavationer John Michael Giglio, and two trained archeologists – Jason Brown and Marty Loschen, continued to dig, they also unearthed pillars, foundational walls that supported the church steps, a 6-foot long piece of limestone that they believe was the threshold to the front door, and the church’s original corner supports.Additionally, smaller artifacts have been found in the surrounding dirt, such as ink bottles, quills and a flask.

Ink bottle unearted at the dig site

The dig site is a treasure for archeologists because it was uniquely and unconventionally preserved.

St. John’s Church and College were originally built in 1902 with the intention of being temporary structures. Eventually both were moved to the property on Jordan Street in 1929 – where they reside now as the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and the renamed Loyola College Prep. The St. John Berchmans elementary and middle school also resides there, honoring the name of the original college. After the church and college were relocated, the buildings at the original site were raised in the late 1930’s. Shortly thereafter, a parking lot was built over the site.

“That’s really great,” said Dr. White, “because once you peel back that layer of asphalt – what it did was encapsulate everything, and we know everything below the asphalt belongs to our church.”
“The most exciting thing to me has been finding the actual foundational walls and the clear evidence of where people would have entered the church,” said Fr. Mangum. “And we have absolute certitude of where the front doors would have been. For me, that’s been exciting to know… and now we can use the pictures of the old church and college to help our imagination.”

The original St. John's Church

The property that once housed St. John’s Church and College is divided over private property and state-owned property. The Cathedral team has been granted permission to dig on the private property, but part of where the church and high altar would have resided fall on the state side. And while the team could seek dig permissions to continue, they had a conversation about how far they would go.  Dr. White said, “We wanted to be able to say that we did what we set out to do, and I think we’ve done that.”

The team has completed Phase 1, which was exposing the old church’s foundation. Now they are preparing to move to Phase 2 – where they will move much of the dirt off the foundational site and get volunteer crews to begin sifting through it for artifacts.

As part of Phase 2, St. John Berchmans middle school students have the opportunity to visit the site, sift through the dirt and learn how an archeological site works, including grids, caring for found artifacts and labeling their location. “This springboards easily to real archeological sites like Rome and Greece. Hopefully they’ll find something,” said Fr. Mangum.

The final phases will be lifting the foundational supports out of the ground, covering the dig site, laying fresh sod and grass, and having the historical marker installed. In regards to the historical marker, Dr. White said, “We’re hoping maybe we can get it sometime around the feast of St. John Berchmans [on the new calendar] in November and do some sort of blessing.”

First page of Fr. John O'Connor's diary

As part of their research into the site and history of the church, Dr. White and Cathedral staff member, Carol Gates, traveled to Loyola University in New Orleans to visit the Jesuit archives. There they viewed the diary of founding pastor, Fr. John F. O’Connor, CSJ. On its first page, the opening line reads, “Today, by God’s grace, we begin the work with the Jesuits in Shreveport.” In the journal, he talks about the challenges of building the church and its location.

Reflecting, Fr. Mangum said, “Maybe the ink that we’ve read in Fr. O’Connor’s journal is from the ink bottle and quill we’ve found. It’s neat to think back – and of course we can’t help but think about the future and how it’s our responsibility to pass things down to the next generation.”

Dr. White lights up when she talks about the amazing experiences the Cathedral has had in the past year.  “Looking at the supernatural aspect of this, I believe it’s all because the heart of St. John Berchmans was here for eight days in December. I don’t think it’s an accident that we were led to do this and then to find everything so easily.”

And indeed, St. John’s Church was one of the first, if not THE first church named in St. John Berchmans honor.

“St. John Berchmans’ miracle for his canonization took place in our state,” said Fr. Mangum. “They needed a new church in the Shreveport area because Holy Trinity, the first church, was getting too small … the Jesuit community from South Louisiana came up to help. They had a connection to their most recently canonized saint, and so they named the church after him.”

As the dig continues into its next phases, recovered artifacts are being stored and cared for in the Spring Street Museum. Fr. Mangum will continue to post updates on the dig’s progress and their finds on the Cathedral’s Facebook page. Follow along to keep track of their historical findings.

Bishop’s September Reflection: The Resurrection of the Body

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by Bishop Michael Duca

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.

Most of us will recognize these opening words as the last line of the Apostles Creed. I remember from my youth that it was one of the longest prayers I had to memorize, but remembering it became easy as we prayed it when we prayed the rosary.

The Creeds of our Church – the Nicene Creed that we say together at Mass and the Apostles Creed – are proclamations of our most basic and important beliefs as Catholics. They hold us true to the original revelation of Jesus Christ as it has been handed down to us from Christ to the apostles, continuing on to us today.  Unfortunately we often rattle these creeds off at Mass with little thought, but they are a rich source of grace and meaning if we give some time to learn the full importance of each phrase.

Last month we celebrated the Assumption of Mary, the feast commemorating our belief that Mary at the moment of her death was immediately assumed into heaven, body and soul.  While we can understand why this honor was given to her as the Mother of God and the portal of our salvation at the moment of her death, we can draw hope from Mary as we are all promised, if we are faithful, the hope of resurrection and eternal life with God.

Reflecting on this brought me to one of the phrases of the Apostles Creed, “I believe in … the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” and why understanding this simple tenet of our faith is so important, especially in the world today.

As human beings we are body and soul, and the two together are important.  Our bodies are not just a burden to our spirit, they are an essential part of who we are as human beings.   To say we believe in the resurrection of the body is to directly reject the idea that when we die, we somehow become a spirit that is absorbed into God as a drop of water is absorbed into the ocean. This idea is what often leads people to scatter the remains of the deceased, but the Church teaches that if our bodies are to be cremated or not, we should be buried in one place to mark, “Here I lie waiting the unique resurrection of my body.”  I find this a wonder-filled and exciting belief because it means that in some way the totality of who I am, body and soul, will live forever with God.  Since it has been revealed by Jesus that we will be raised body and soul then I, Michael Duca, now Bishop of Shreveport (not sure there are miters in heaven, but probably not) will stand hopefully before God who will call my name for all eternity in love.

It also assumes that “all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel in death.” (Vigil Service for the Deceased)  We will be with the ones we love and it will be revealed how God is both a part of the love we share here on earth and the one Love we have always sought. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”  (St. Augustine)

I know there is always the question of our body’s corruption in the earth and how it can be resurrected, which of course is still a mystery to us. We do know that the body of Jesus when resurrected was a glorified body that allowed his disciples to recognize him, to eat with Jesus and to see the nail prints in his hands, while Jesus was also able to pass through locked doors. This in some ways prefigures what we can expect at our resurrection.

This teaching also leads us as Catholics to take our bodies seriously. Catholics, and other Christians at times, are accused of being suspicious of the body, seeing the body as not holy and at times even sinful in itself.  In fact the Church teaches that the body is good, it reveals who we are in relation to others and in relation to God who fashioned us.  When we respect our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and as reflections of the Body of Christ on earth, then we find joy and peace in our whole selves, body and soul.

This short tenet of our faith that we believe in the resurrection of the body is filled with meaning and a powerful statement of faith on how we are to live in the world awaiting our resurrection.  •

Bishops Act to Address the Sin of Racism and Seek Solutions

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Initiated by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB, the committee will focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, and even in our Church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions.

“Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to inflict our nation.  The establishment of this new ad hoc committee will be wholly dedicated to engaging the Church and our society to work together in unity to challenge the sin of racism, to listen to persons who are suffering under this sin, and to come together in the love of Christ to know one another as brothers and sisters,” says Cardinal DiNardo.

Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, OH has been appointed as Chairman of the committee.

“I look forward to working with my brother bishops as well as communities across the United States to listen to the needs of individuals who have suffered under the sin of racism and together find solutions to this epidemic of hate that has plagued our nation for far too long,” says Bishop Murry.  “Through Jesus’ example of love and mercy, we are called to be a better people than what we have witnessed over the past weeks and months as a nation.  Through listening, prayer and meaningful collaboration, I’m hopeful we can find lasting solutions and common ground where racism will no longer find a place in our hearts or in our society.”

The new ad hoc committee has been formed upon the unanimous recommendation of the U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB’s Committee on Priorities and Plans.  The establishment of the committee will also welcome and support the implementation of the pastoral letter on racism anticipated for release in 2018.  The formation of the ad hoc committee also follows the conclusion of the work of the Peace in Our Communities Task Force. The Task Force was formed in July 2016 by then USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, in response to racially-related shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas.

President of USCCB Calls for Calm Amid Violent Protests in Charlottesville

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement in response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, VA that has left three dead and at least 19 injured.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“On behalf of the bishops of the United States, I join leaders from around the nation in condemning the violence and hatred that have now led to one death and multiple injuries in Charlottesville, Virginia. We offer our prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured. We join our voices to all those calling for calm.
The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action. The bishops stand with all who are oppressed by evil ideology and entrust all who suffer to the prayers of St. Peter Claver as we approach his feast day. We also stand ready to work with all people of goodwill for an end to racial violence and for the building of peace in our communities.

Last year a Task Force of our Bishops Conference under Archbishop Wilton Gregory proposed prayers and resources to work for unity and harmony in our country and in our Church. I am encouraging the bishops to continue that work especially as the Feast of St. Peter Claver approaches.

Kids’ Connection: Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection!

Classes and Podcast on Catholic Retrospective on the Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

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by Dr. Cheryl White

As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is using this historic opportunity to focus a variety of educational offerings on the rich history of the Church, which will examine both the Protestant movement and the resulting Catholic Reformation. The time will also serve as an opportunity to pray for the restoration of unity among all Christians.

Keeping with the theme of “A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History through the Eyes of Faith,” the Cathedral will have a series of adult faith formation classes in conjunction with the historic anniversary, as well as the launch of a series of educational podcasts by Fr. Peter Mangum on related topics.

Transcending history through the eyes of faith is a concept drawn directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains the Church as visible in history, yet also eternally existing outside of it. Given the nature of the topics to be explored, this seems an especially appropriate way to frame the Cathedral’s programming.

Historians generally note the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to have occurred with the publication of the 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences by Martin Luther, who nailed his “protest” to the door of his church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Luther’s act of protest against abuses of practice within the Church had historic consequences that resulted in an eventual splintering of Christianity into many different groups and sects. Since the historic anniversary of this protest naturally invites a focus on the Catholic Church, it provides us with a unique educational opportunity as we remind ourselves of the fullness of our faith.

In addition to the adult education offerings, a 10-part weekly audio podcast series hosted by Fr. Peter Mangum will launch on September 1, with each installment focusing on a different aspect of the Church’s response to the Protestant movement as well as an emphasis on prayers for the restoration of unity. In these brief talks, Fr. Mangum uses both a theological and historical approach to the common themes evoked by the Protestant Reformation, resulting in an eloquent defense of our Catholic faith.

Among some of the podcast titles are: “Did Martin Luther Intend to Start a New Church?” and “Can the Church Be in Error?” as well as “Highlights of the Council of Trent,” and “Saints of the Catholic Reformation.” The podcasts will be available on the new Cathedral blog, https://catholicretrospective.wordpress.com, the Cathedral website and the Cathedral YouTube channel.

The following is a schedule of related classes and events to be held at the Cathedral. Sunday classes all begin at 9:15 a.m. and all are welcome to attend.

•  September 17 – Welcome and Overview for Fall Adult Faith Formation

September 24 – The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith, Dr. Cheryl White

October 1 – The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith, Dr. Cheryl White

Wed., October 11 –  6:00 p.m. Re-cap of The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith

October 15 –  A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith Seeking Christian Unity

October 22 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith,  Dr. Cheryl White: The Late Medieval Church, the Bad Popes, and Catholic Cry for Reform

October 29 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith, Fr. Peter Mangum, Dr. Cheryl White, Robert Cruz Martin Luther’s Protest & The 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences

November 5 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith,  Fr. Peter Mangum: The Council of Trent & the Tridentine Mass

New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening

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by Jane Snyder

The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler for this long awaited event.

In 1970, Fr. Murray Clayton brought Sr. Margaret McCaffrey to Shreveport. She rented an apartment in “The Bottoms” behind First United Methodist Church and realized that children were going to school hungry. Her mission to feed these children was the beginning of Christian Service.

Sr. Margaret grew the ministry through the 70s, 80s and 90s to serve those in our community who were living on the margins of our society, needing many different services. She fed thousands at the Hospitality House, provided clothing and emergency assistance, housed people recently released from prison, and housed women with children, repaired toys to give to children at Christmas, served volunteers at the Poor Man’s Supper and initiated the Christian Service Telethon.

Many think that Christian Service died when Sr. Margaret died in 1998, but that is not true. Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM, with the help of the Friars of St. John the Baptist, brought Brother Giovanni Reid to Shreveport in 1999, and since then the ministry has continued to serve 200 meals a day and provide clothing to many each month.

In 2013, Hope Connections, a collaboration of non-profits on Levy Street, whose goal is to end homelessness, asked Christian Service to become the food and clothing part of this amazing partnership. They offered to give Christian Service a 10,000 square foot building on their campus.

The Christian Service Board spent a year evaluating their ministry and chose to move forward taking the food, clothing and emergency assistance services to the new location.

In May of 2013, Christian Service hired Al Moore to be the new executive director and to take them through the process of fundraising and building the new facility.

The core mission of feeding the hungry has not changed, but the location to carry out the mission is changing. There is a need to address greater and greater numbers of people who are not only hungry, but homeless or on the brink of being homeless. Christian Service is moving to meet those needs.

Following 18 months of fundraising to renovate the 10,000 square foot warehouse, through the generous donations of many foundations and individuals, the groundbreaking for the new facility was held in September 2016.

The board of Christian Service looks forward to serving more clients at their new location.

They also hope to provide opportunities for more volunteers to be a part of the food and clothing ministries.

The board hopes that you will join them on September 27 at the new home of Christian Service at 2350 Levy Street in Shreveport at 1:00 p.m. to introduce this exciting new facility to the community.

Christian Service aims to help fulfill the request in Matthew 25 35:40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me

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by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  This movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book, which tells the true story of Ron Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver Moore, a homeless drifter, and their life-changing relationship.

The movie features Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight, and it shows how serving others can change a heart, a marriage and a community.  The heartwarming story takes place in Fort Worth, with additional mentions of North Louisiana and East Texas.  Book clubs across the country have given the story a “thumbs up.”

The private showings are made possible by the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Meg Goorley, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s Executive Director, sees the private showings as opportunities to start a conversation for change in our community.

“Every day, Catholic Charities is helping people like Denver Moore,” says Goorley.  “We work together to give our clients education, assistance, and most of all, hope.  I feel that this movie will inspire people to ask, what more can they do to help?”

Please join Catholic Charities of North Louisiana in attending a showing in either Shreveport or Monroe.

In addition to the private showings, Catholic Charities is also providing information for book study groups who want to read the book prior to the movie release.  Details (date, time, location) for the showings can be found on the Catholic Charities’ website at www.ccnla.org.  Tickets are available on a limited basis.  For more information, contact the CCNLA office at (318) 865-0200 or email at info@ccnla.org.

2017-2018 Diocese of Shreveport Seminarians

Click the image below to download the PDF. Print it out, hang it on your refrigerator or somewhere else prominent and pray for these men. Consider sending them a letter of encouragement or a birthday card!

Northern Louisiana Vocations Inspired by Ruston Friars

by Br. Mike Ward, OFM

Br. Michael Ward, OFM, was the “vesting deacon” for Luke LaFleur’s transitional diaconate Mass held at Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria, LA, on May 25. Br. Mike was Luke’s spiritual director at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston and is the campus minister at the Catholic Student Center serving the students of Louisiana Tech University.

Luke graduated from Tech in 2012 with an engineering degree and entered the Josephium Pontifical College in Columbus, OH, three months after graduation. His priesthood ordination is scheduled for May 2018 at the Cathedral in Alexandria, LA.

Eight Tech grads attended the diaconate ceremony at Luke’s home parish.

Currently, three other Tech graduates are pursing priesthood ordination in the the dioceses of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. All of these graduates started their journey with the friars at St. Thomas. Currently two young men at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center at St. Thomas in Ruston are interested in priesthood and two young women are interested in religious life. Daniel Mayer, a recent graduate from Tech will be entering the postulancy program this year for the Sacred Heart province. Fr. Frank Folino, OFM, pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas parish, was his spiritual director.

In recent years, the campus ministry program at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston has seen an increase in activity. Currently, about 70 students go to the Center daily and in 2016, the center was named one of the top 50 Catholic college ministry programs in the U.S. The students have organized themselves into a campus organization called ACTS (Association of Catholic Tech Students) and have activities at the Catholic Center every day or evening.

Governed by a servant leadership team of 30 students, ACTS’ motto is “Christ-Centered and Student Led” and the mission can be summed up by five words: Joy, Evangelization, Sacrament, Unity, Service. With such guidance the students make conscious effort in “Being Catholic at Louisiana Tech.”

Visit stac-acts.com for more information.