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Affirming Life at All Ages and in All Stages

by Kim Long Pro-life can be a sensitive subject. Opinions are often developed by people who are uninformed or only partially informed about Church teaching on life, or by people who are More »

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Bishop’s October Reflection: Let Us Stand Up for the Life of Every Person

by Bishop Michael G. Duca When I was rector of Holy Trinity College Seminary in Dallas, I would regularly warn my staff that it was important that we stay sane and clear More »

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Daigle New Associate Vocations Director

by Fr. Jerry Daigle I have long been intrigued by moments found throughout the Gospels, when Jesus stops to look a person in the eye and extend an invitation: “Follow me.” On More »

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Sacred Heart Celebrated 50 Years in Golden Jubilee

by Mary Nash Sunday, August 21, 2016 is a day parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport will always remember with love, thanksgiving and joy.  Fifty years ago, Sacred More »

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College Students Aid Orphans in Guatemala

by Brother Mike Ward Five years ago, four courageous Louisiana Tech students from the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) at St. Thomas Parish in Ruston accompanied by Br. Mike Ward, OFM, More »

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Area Catholics Rally in Support of Louisiana Flood Victims

As the rains fell and the waters rose in south Louisiana, the devastation of those waters quickly became evident. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were lost. Schools were consumed, churches More »

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Vocations View: Seminarian Serves Migrants in Mexico

by Kevin Mues, Seminarian This summer I went to Mexico City in order to gain insight into Hispanic culture and Spanish language. The seminary program offered students many opportunities to see the More »

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Navigating the Faith: Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary A Marian reflection from a former Catholic outsider by Fr. Matthew Long How does one become devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially if you are raised More »

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Domestic Church: Show the World Children are Blessings

We go through our pep talk every time I take our four kids out with me. “What do we need to show the world?!” I shout to my knee-high passengers. “That children More »

Affirming Life at All Ages and in All Stages

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by Kim Long

Pro-life can be a sensitive subject. Opinions are often developed by people who are uninformed or only partially informed about Church teaching on life, or by people who are conflicted based on personal situations. And while I am no expert on theology, I am a person who seeks information, forms opinions and prays for wisdom.

The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. In Deuteronomy 30:19 we are told, “ I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. So choose life in order that you may live and your descendants.”
The directive seems quite clear, yet somehow the waters have been troubled.

Several years ago I traveled into uncharted territory: I had to teach high school religion at my parish. Now as a mother of four sons, perhaps I’m thought to be brave and tough. And however true I may believe that to be, my courage did not transfer into the classroom of the eleventh grade confirmation class.

One of the first things they asked me was, “if we don’t believe everything the Church teaches, can we believe some things?” I prayed for divine assistance. I drew a line on the chalkboard near the bottom, another slightly hovering above the first and then one at the top of the board. I told them the bottom line was nothingness. The line right above it was us, and the line at the top was all the Church teaches and believes, the repository of faith. No one knows everything the Church teaches and believes. The space between these lines is our lives and we spend that time journeying toward a fullness of understanding.

As the weeks continued, it was only a matter of time before someone brought up birth control and abortion. Sadly that was their entire scope of understanding the Church’s rich teaching on pro-life. It was then I realized we needed to spend some time “unpacking” the pro-life teaching.

We began by examining the actual phrase “pro-life.” I pointed out that with every choice we make, we are enjoined to choose life. For example, “Do you really need the triple cheeseburger? Do you really need to put someone down? Are the friends you have chosen helping you create or destroy?”
As we talked, the possibilities opened up. We considered “pro-life” as an acronym.

Purpose: Do you know why you are here? The old Baltimore Catechism has this to offer: “Who made you? God. Why? To know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.” Simple? Yes. Easy? Not so much.

1 Thessalonians also has a similar statement: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ.”

Until we accept this is our purpose, everything else can get stuck. Take a little time to sit with these phrases from the catechism and scripture. Ask God to reveal what you need to know in order to fulfill your purpose!

Respect: This may seem like a no brainer, but what is respect really? I checked with Webster’s and found an interesting take: “high or special regard.”

Years ago I was introduced to a great book called Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie. It was wonderful, but the truth it contained stung a bit. I liked approval and, according to the text, depended on it too much. If all my self worth came from exterior sources, how I could I respect myself? True, I could look at some of the things I had achieved so far, but I was unable to apply those feelings of past achievements to myself in general. I did not understand then that I have value simply because I am made in the image and likeness of a God who knew me before I was formed in the womb. Until we hold ourselves in some regard, it is difficult to extend that regard to others. As my mother used to say, “Charity begins at home.”

ONENESS: Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.” In Luke 10, Jesus repeats this with the addition of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells the confused disciples that whenever they had helped the least of these their brothers and sisters, they had done likewise to him.

When we begin to see that we are treating our “brothers and sisters” differently than how we treat God, we are not choosing life. Simple. End of story. Now I have lots of trouble with this concept and I doubt that I am alone.

Try taking a breath and responding rather than reacting. Learn that it is absolutely fine to refrain from immediately weighing in on every situation; in fact some situations are best left alone. Increase your awareness. Pray and think before you act.

LIFE: Enjoy life! Don’t keep it on the shelf until “one day.” You know “one day,” don’t you? One day I will exercise. One day I will call up my cousin I haven’t spoken with in 10, 20, 30 years. One day things will be different. Not true – one day we will be older and still thinking, “I wish I would have done…” Be moderate in your enjoyment; don’t range out of balance. Remember with every action we engage in, we create or destroy. Choose to create!

Native American spiritual leader Black Elk said, “In a sacred manner I am walking…” I ask myself, “How am I walking? How am I approaching life? How are all my choices leading me to life and to blessing?” If I cannot learn that how I treat myself and others is a direct reflection of how I relate to God, then I may only crawl.

INTENTION: Intention is defined as determination to act in a certain manner, a plan. I was surprised to read that it also means a manner of healing certain types of wounds. Each morning, for the past several months, upon waking I utter, “Thank you, God.”

There are two prayers that are great examples of setting the day’s intention. The modeh ani, a Jewish prayer, thanks God for waking us, “great is your faithfulness in me for giving me another day.”

In our Catholic tradition we have the Morning Offering, where we offer all things coming our way to God for what He deems best. These prayers really make me aware of the amazing opportunity God gives me for setting an intention to all I do, say and pray that day.

In the evening there is a beautiful prayer which encourages us to look back on our day, ask forgiveness and sleep well knowing God understands, forgives and will work with us to help us grow.

Faith: What is life without faith? For me nothing. My faith has been tested and bent at pretty uncomfortable angles, but it is still there. My grandmother used to say she stepped out on her faith the moment her two feet hit the floor in the morning. At the time I was reading some lofty theological book and I silently thought how “basic” her statement was. God has forgiven me for that bit of arrogance and ignorance and, thankfully, has brought me full circle.

Now when my feet hit the floor, I acknowledge this posture as one of faith. I confess I am that person who wants to know the why of it all. Scripture reminds me that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Experience, age and my feet have led me to a place of rest, a place where I don’t need (and sometimes don’t want) every answer – a place of faith. Without faith no choice seems to matter.

Enter: Enter the miracle which is life in all of its many forms. Fr. Thomas Berry, a Jesuit priest who wrote extensively about creation, says all of creation is the great curriculum. Life can be difficult, life can be sublime, life can be filled with joy and overflowing with sorrow. Life can be a direct reflection of our own understanding of this miracle, this gift which we are plainly told to choose. Don’t sleepwalk through this experience, instead laugh, cry, have a dessert, love your neighbor, don’t neglect yourself, never forget God is with us always and everywhere. Cry, dance, pray, laugh out loud, be with friends and family. Set an intention, be alone in reflective silence, be alive – choose life!

This was the basic talk I had with my class that year. Of course abortion is wrong, sex should be reserved for marriage and not seen as currency. We shouldn’t overeat, we shouldn’t gossip, balance is vital and prayer is our glue. But in the end, it comes down to awareness and choices. It comes down to knowing our purpose, why we are here. I told them God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect us to show up. We are to assist in bringing about the kingdom “on earth AS IT IS in heaven.” Some days that may mean speaking to an unpopular person at school, sharing your last dollar or attending a weekday Mass out of sheer desire to connect with God through the Eucharist.  The choice is yours.  •

Bishop’s October Reflection: Let Us Stand Up for the Life of Every Person

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

When I was rector of Holy Trinity College Seminary in Dallas, I would regularly warn my staff that it was important that we stay sane and clear about the teachings of the Church – because if we are sane, then when someone in the seminary acts crazy, it will look crazy. BUT if the faculty is crazy, then crazy will look normal.

On September 12, 2016, a group who called themselves Catholics for Choice (CFC) put a full page color ad in many of the nation’s largest newspapers supporting the right of every woman to have an abortion funded, if needed, by the government as a part of essential healthcare. The ad placed in the Dallas Morning News pictured a young man with the caption:

“Denying someone abortion care, or any healthcare, simply because they cannot afford the procedure is an assault on their God-given dignity” Catholics for Choice.

Cardinal Tim Dolan, archbishop of New York and the Chairman of the Pro-Life Committee of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, responded:

“As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.”  CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching – and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, “Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death….”

The Catholic Church’s core belief in the sanctity of life is a central teaching on which all social teachings for the care of humanity are founded. It is a belief rooted in the fact that we are created in the very image and likeness of God, and that each life is sacred from the moment it begins in the mother’s womb. In all the discussions concerning abortion, the question has never been answered legally as to when life begins. Or maybe a more secular and legal way to state the question is, “When does the human life in the mother’s womb gain the full protection of the law as any other person alive?” 

The problem with this question is that it always begs another.  If someone says life begins at three months after conception, then why not three months less one day?  Why this day is it life, but not the day before? The answer is always an arbitrary choice unless you accept the TRUTH that human life is sacred from the first moments of life in the womb and abortion is morally wrong.  To keep abortion legal, you cannot answer the question as to when life begins, because to name a date is to limit choice.  In fact, the pro-choice movement MUST always respond to the question of when human life is to be valued with an arbitrary, relative and vague response.  So, as a result, we live in a schizophrenic world where if the mother wants the life in her womb it becomes a child who is loved, and if she does not, it is a fetus and not a human being worthy of value.

This arbitrary and relative way of thinking is a great danger to our society.  Life has always been one of the inalienable rights.  This means that our “right to life” is given to us by God, not created or given to us by the state.  The state, the government, is required to protect that right.  In Roe vs Wade the right to life became an arbitrary right depending on the choice of a society of those already alive over one not yet born – a decision of the powerful over the vulnerable, the haves over the have nots. And if life is arbitrary in one stage of life, then what is to keep our society from deciding a person’s right to life as they age or become sick, or for the powerful to make more decisions over the vulnerable.

Abortion is not healthcare. Healthcare seeks to restore the integrity of the human body to its natural order, whereas abortion is a fundamental disruption of the most natural and beautiful process of creating new life. Protecting abortion rights is not social justice, but in fact abortion strikes at the foundation of social justice in denying a person their very right to life, which is the beginning point of all social justice.

Cardinal Dolan sums up the issue in his statement beautifully.

“CFC’s extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

 Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.”

I sometimes feel like crazy is starting to look normal. Let’s not lose our way. In all ways let us stand for the life of every person already born and every child in the womb waiting to be born. Let us be instruments of God’s mercy and keep ourselves clear on the truth so that crazy will look crazy, so that life is valued as God intended.  •

Blessing of the Graves in the Diocese of Shreveport

The Church seeks to help the faithful departed, especially those souls in purgatory, by earnest prayer to God.  We collectively remember our faithful departed on All Souls Day and throughout the month of November.  In the communion of Christ’s members with one another, the Church obtains spiritual help for those who have preceded us in faith.  This spiritual communion brings the consolation of hope to those of us who pray for our dearly departed with gratitude, love and devotion. Our belief in Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the reason we commemorate our faithful departed on All Souls Day and bless their graves.  We entrust them to the purifying, merciful love of the One Eternal God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Our priests and deacons will offer prayers at our local cemeteries on the weekends closest to All Souls Day on the following dates:

Saturday, October 29, 2016
Forest Park Cemetery West
Shreveport    1:00 pm
Rev. Joseph Kallookalam, Deacon Jeff Chapman, Deacon Daniel Lemoine, Deacon Homer Tucker

Lincoln Park Cemetery
Shreveport    1:00 pm
Rev. John Paul Crispin, Deacon Clary Nash, Deacon Bill Roche

Round Grove Cemetery
Shreveport    1:00 pm
Rev. Jean Bosco Uwamungu, Deacon Charles Thomas

Sunday, October 30, 2016
Rose-Neath Cemetery
Bossier City    2:00 pm
Rev. Jerry Daigle, Jr., Deacon Freeman Ligon, Deacon Larry Mills

Forest Park Cemetery East
Shreveport    2:00 pm
Rev. Charles Glorioso, Deacon Steve Lehr, Deacon Mike Wise, Deacon Daniel Lemoine

Mansfield Cemetery, Highland Cemetery, Allen Cemetery
Mansfield    after 11:00 a.m. Mass
Rev. Matthew Long

Monday, October 31, 2016
St. Mary Cemetery
Rambin        after 6:00 p.m. Mass
Rev. Matthew Long

Thursday, November 1, 2016
Catholic Cemetery at St. Lucy
Hodge           after 6:00 p.m. Mass
Rev. Pat Madden

St. Ann Cemetery
Stonewall        5:15 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.
Rev. Matthew Long
Thursday, November 2, 2016
St. Paschal Cemetery
West Monroe       8:45 a.m.
Rev. Frank Coens

St. Catherine Cemetery
Noble          9:00 a.m.
Rev. Tim Hurd, Rev. Richard Norsworthy

St. Ann Cemetery
Ebarb         10:00 a.m.
Rev. Tim Hurd, Rev. Richard Norsworthy

San Miguel Cemetery
Zwolle          11:00 a.m.
Rev. Tim Hurd, Rev. Richard Norsworthy

Saturday, November 5, 2016
Hillcrest Cemetery
Haughton    1:00 pm
Rev. Karl Daigle, Deacon Larry Mills, Deacon Ricardo Rivera, Deacon Michael Straub

Centuries Memorial Cemetery
Shreveport    1:00 pm
Rev. Francis Kamau, FMH, Deacon Mike Whitehead

Sunday, November 6, 2016
St. Joseph Cemetery
Shreveport    2:00 pm
Msgr. Earl Provenza, Deacon John Basco, Deacon Jorge Martinez

Carver Cemetery
Shreveport    2:00 pm
Rev. John Paul Crispin, FMH, Deacon Jack Lynch

Veteran Cemetery of Northwest LA
Keithville    2:00 pm
Deacon Bruce Pistorius

Kids’ Connection: St. Francis of Assisi

Click to download and print our Kids’ Connection on Saint Francis of Assisi.

Growing Confident Catholics

by Shelly Bole

Are you a parent who is constantly trying to keep up with the family schedule?  Is it hard for you to find time to pray, let alone as a family?  Do you want your family to become a little more holy?

The Church knows the struggles that families face and they know the crazy questions like: “Were there dinosaurs on the ark?” and “Does God take naps?” And then there are those questions from teenagers and adults, “Why does the Church/Bible say sex should be saved for marriage?” “Why do I have to honor my father and mother?”

In response to requests received during the Into the Deep parish visits, the Office of Catechesis is sponsoring a series of seminars for catechists, parents and other inquiring adults.  In Growing Confident Catholics, we will help parents, grandparents and catechists find these answers.

The second part of this series is the Forming Families of Faith webinars.  In this two part webinar, parents, grandparents and catechists will discover the beauty of the Domestic Church along with concrete applicable tools for helping families know Jesus and grow in holiness.

Please join us Tuesdays, October 18 and 25 at 8:30 p.m. for the Forming Families of Faith online webinars.  Special guests include Pat and Lisha Harrington and Roxanne and Matthew Chumley.
Please register online at http://tinyurl.com/familiesoffaithwebinar or call 318-219-7266.  •

Daigle New Associate Vocations Director

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by Fr. Jerry Daigle

I have long been intrigued by moments found throughout the Gospels, when Jesus stops to look a person in the eye and extend an invitation: “Follow me.” On the lips of Christ, these words are rich with expectation and promise. Not everyone answers or accepts, but each person who does is drawn into a unique, intimate relationship with Christ.

His call is specific and truly personal because he knows us better than we can ever know ourselves, and has conceived the one path of life that will bring each of us to our greatest fulfillment, and will ultimately make us most like Christ himself. Many are invited to share his life of communion and creation through marriage and family. Others are invited to share his life of consecration and prayer through religious vows. Some of us hear Jesus Christ calling us to share his priesthood – a joyful and challenging life of virtue, self-surrender and service.

During my years at Notre Dame Seminary, I was often bewildered and amused by the diversity of men chosen to be formed into priests. They were young and old, craftsmen and businessmen, athletes, artists, bookworms, unseasoned and streetwise, introverts and extroverts. They hailed from nearly every continent of the world, and spoke a multitude of languages. With amazement, I watched their gradual transformation.

In September, shortly after our seminarians Fidel Mondragon and Duane Trombetta were admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders, I was shown a photograph of one of them publicly wearing the attire of a priest for the first time. It was an outward sign of the profound transformation occurring within, and it made him look like the new, different man he is becoming.

It brought to mind my own seminary experience of the first morning that Third Theology students would step out of their dorm rooms wearing their black clothes and clerical collars. Truly, clothes do not make the man, but, on this special day, those clothes always seemed to visually change the character of these men. In a real way, we saw them clothed in Christ and beginning to share in his priesthood.

I am truly blessed that Bishop Duca has asked me to participate in the formation of men into priests for our diocese by working with Fr. Matthew Long as Associate Vocations Director. Witnessing some of our young men in the parish of St. Jude begin to hear and try to answer Christ’s call to priesthood has been exciting. Trying to assist in their discernment and guide their spiritual lives has been humbling. It has brought me a sense of great joy and hope for our diocese.

I encourage each of you to continue offering prayers and sacrifices to the Lord, asking that He call more men to the priesthood from and for our diocese. Pray they may be able to clearly hear Christ’s call, and that their parents, siblings, friends and parishes will help them boldly accept Jesus’ invitation to be conformed to himself in such a profound and beautiful way.

Catholic Charities Presents “Bingo on the Bayou”

by Lucy Medvec

Get ready to yell “Bingo!” in support of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana!  “Bingo on the Bayou” will be held on Saturday, October 29, at 601 Spring Street in downtown Shreveport.  This inaugural fundraising event will feature delicious catering from Silver Star Smokehouse, complimentary beer sampling from Great Raft Brewing and Eagle Distributing of Shreveport, and a limited silent auction featuring Louisiana-themed items.

Local priests will serve as bingo callers for the event with prizes of gift certificates to upscale local restaurants.  The bingo callers are: Bishop Michael G. Duca, Msgr. Carson LaCaze (Cathedral of St. John Berchmans), Fr. Matthew Long (St. Joseph, Mansfield/St. Ann), Fr. Rothell Price (Vicar General), Msgr. Earl Provenza (Holy Trinity), Fr. Mike Thang’wa (St. John the Baptist/St. Terence) and Fr. Pike Thomas (St. Jude).

All proceeds from “Bingo on the Bayou” will benefit the programs of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, including financial education, emergency assistance, healthy eating classes, parenting programs and assistance for low-income mothers and immigration services.

Individual tickets are $50 each with table sponsor levels of $750, $1000, and $1500.  Dress is casual and the event is open to guests 21 years and older.

Auction items include: Four New Orleans Saints tickets (December 4th vs. Detroit Lions), LSU tickets, a Louisiana state flag flown over the state capitol, artwork from local Louisiana artists, autographed books from George Rodrigue and much more!

Faustina Live Production Coming to Catholic Center

Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy, the moving, live production performed by actress Maria Vargo and directed by Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, will be presented at the Catholic Center Holoubek Theater in Shreveport on Wednesday, October 26th at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Diocese of Shreveport.

Experience firsthand the life and message of St. Faustina whose personal encounters with Jesus have inspired a world-wide devotion to Christ’s Divine Mercy. This drama also brings audiences a riveting modern story that makes Divine Mercy remarkably relevant and urgent for our world today.

The program is filled with all the elements of professional theater, runs 90 minutes and is suitable for ages 13 and up. Admission is $5.

Information at-a-Glance:

Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy
www.DivineMercyDrama.com
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 – 7:00 p.m.

Catholic Center – Holoubek Theater
3500 Fairfield Ave, Shreveport, LA 71104

Admission: $5.00 (purchase tickets in advance) – Suitable for Ages 13 & Up

Tickets & Information:
Contact the Diocese of Shreveport
(318) 868-4441 or email rtiller@dioshpt.org

Sponsored by: The Diocese of Shreveport

Sacred Heart Celebrated 50 Years in Golden Jubilee

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by Mary Nash

Sunday, August 21, 2016 is a day parishioners of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport will always remember with love, thanksgiving and joy.  Fifty years ago, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was established and celebrated its first Mass with Fr. Richard Lombard as the founding pastor.  He was commissioned by Bishop Greco to establish a church on the west side of Shreveport. Fifty years later, Fr. Lombard was back to help celebrate with Bishop Michael Duca on this joyous occasion!

Known as “The Little Church with the Big Heart,” Sacred Heart began planning for this special event 18 months in advance, enlisting the help of parishioners to form a special planning committee. This committee, with Jean Woods as chairperson, organized fundraisers and events to raise awareness of the upcoming event and funds to cover expenses of the banquet.

“We took ownership of our parish by painting the church and rectory, by creating a beautiful prayer garden, cutting the lawn, refurbishing the Sacred Heart statue, painting the parking lot, donating the papal blessing, creating special anniversary keepsakes, designing our anniversary program, cakes and banner, honoring our faithfully departed, giving our time, talent and donations in honor and praise to God. In addition, we had a professional photographer on hand to take photos of our memorable occasion and design DVDs,” Jean said.

The Golden Jubilee celebration began with a special Mass at 10:00 a.m. with Bishop Michael G. Duca as the celebrant. Concelebrants included Fr. Rothell Price, Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH, pastor, Fr. John Paul Crispin, FMH, parochial vicar, Fr. Thomas John Vadakemuriyil, CMI, and Deacon Clary Nash.
As Jean recalled, “We had a joyous celebration. The special Mass made our spirits soar!  The music brought joy to our hearts!  When Bishop Duca acknowledged and thanked Fr. Richard Lombard for building a community and serving as the first pastor of Sacred Heart, everyone rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.”


The celebration continued with a banquet at the Ramada Shreveport Airport.  Through the efforts of the Golden Jubilee Planning Committee, all parishioners, including founding members, enjoyed a catered meal provided by Maison Louisiane Catering and Events of Natchitoches.

Elaine Smith, co-chairman of the committee said, “The food was wonderfully displayed, the tables were beautifully done with centerpieces of heart dishes with Sacred Heart Candles, and prayer cards and special commemorative Golden Jubilee Sacred Heart Christmas ornaments were placed at all seats.  A special video of pictures of the past 50 years played throughout the meal and a special collage of pictures was displayed. Fr. John Paul Crispin had special gifts; crystal paperweights with an image of our church, a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and inscription noting Golden Jubilee, made in India to give away.  I felt proud to be part of the church with the big heart.”

Today nearly 300 families comprise the diverse and active faith community of “The Little Church with the Big Heart” and work together to reflect our mission statement, “We, the parish of Sacred Heart, are committed to enriching the spirituality of the parish family, the Christian community, and all brothers and sisters created in God’s divine image and likeness. We are called by the Holy Spirit, under the leadership of our bishop and pastor, to assist others through the development and promotion of various ministries.  We pray for divine guidance that we may serve others with truth, courage, forethought and compassion.”

Pro-Life Ministry’s Local Roots: Alpha Right to Life

Ed Hopkins with a painting of Saint Thomas Moore.

by Susan Flanagan

Faith-filled Christians of many denominations were trying to make a difference in the Shreveport-Bossier pro-life arena in the 1980’s. When Flo and Ladd Alexander’s Pregnancy Referral Information service ceased to exist, others stepped up to try to fill that gap.  Long-time Shreveporters may remember Alpha Right to Life, which was begun in the mid-1980’s, and its longest-running president, Presbyterian Pastor Ed Hopkins.  But how many of you know that Ed’s pro-life work in Shreveport was instrumental in his eventual conversion to the Catholic Church?

Ed was called to Shreveport in 1986 as the Pastor of Fairfield Avenue Presbyterian Church. Although many pastors and members of his denomination were moving in a pro-abortion direction, Ed had become pro-life during his seminary years and had been involved in pro-life ministries in previous assignments.  Upon his arrival in Shreveport, he discovered Alpha Right to Life, which had recently been started by Brenda Nichols and two other women from the First Assembly of God Church.  Ed Hopkins soon became its president, assembled a board of directors and many worthwhile accomplishments followed.

Alpha Right to Life’s original purpose was to start and maintain a hotline to help pregnant women. Since God is the beginning, the Creator of all life, the name Alpha was chosen.  In a providential coincidence, the founders realized that Alpha’s listing in the phone book would be in close proximity to listings for “abortion” and “alternatives to abortion,” thereby hopefully catching the eye of potential abortion-minded callers. The hotline was manned by volunteers, many of whom came from Pastor Denny Duron’s Assembly of God Church.

Alpha Right to Life also staffed an information table annually at the State Fair of Louisiana, where volunteers handed out pro-life literature and displayed models showing fetal development.  Alpha developed brochures listing various crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes around the state where women could receive help. An Alpha pamphlet from the late 1980’s also listed speakers who were available for meetings and functions, including some who shared their personal stories of regret over their abortions.

In 1989 under Ed’s direction, Alpha organized a community forum at the Bossier Civic Center to help educate people about abortion from many different angles.  Participants who facilitated this broad discussion included a lawyer, a doctor, a minister, a pregnancy counselor and high school senior Scott Semon, the first winner of the Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Contest, which had just begun in 1989.

Another important educational role that Pastor Ed Hopkins played in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, was monitoring the local newspapers for articles and letters to the editor regarding abortion, of which there were many.  Often stories and letters were filled with inaccuracies and misinformation about the issues and Ed always sent the newspaper a rebuttal, which was often published. Since accurate information in the newspaper is so vital, Ed wonders in retrospect if these corrections might have been one of his most important accomplishments.

This author chaired many annual Alpha “Respect Life” banquets, where nationally-known pro-life speakers, such as syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, chastity speaker Molly Kelly and  professional football player Pete Metzelaars, riveted the hundreds in attendance with their presentations. Metzelaars painfully recounted the abortion he and his wife undertook because his football career had stalled, only to be offered a lucrative contract shortly after they had aborted their baby.

During his tenure as Alpha Right to Life president, Ed for the first time met and worked with many Catholics. He was struck by the teachings of the Catholic Church and impressed with the consistency of the pro-life message the Church promoted. The more he read and learned, the more drawn he was to the truth and beauty of these ideas. The first time Ed ever saw or heard a Rosary being prayed was by Fr. Joseph Howard and a Catholic group in front of the Hope abortion clinic, an event Ed poignantly remembers well over 25 years later. The seed for Ed’s eventual conversion was planted in Shreveport as a result of his pro-life experiences.

Ed Hopkins ended up being reassigned in 1991 and moving away from Shreveport, and a few years later, Alpha Right to Life ended.  But while it existed, many women were helped, people were educated, pro-life initiatives were begun or expanded and a Presbyterian Pastor was led to become Catholic.