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Fidel Mondragon’s Ordination

by Jessica Rinaudo Before Fidel Mondragon landed in the Diocese of Shreveport, he spent many years in various seminaries, countries and a religious order, discerning the vocation God had planned for his More »

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Pope Francis Celebrated Mass and Canonization at Fatima Shrine

At 10:00 a.m. on May 13, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fátima, on the plaza of the Shrine, the Holy Father Francis celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of More »

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Join Us for Summer Catholic Camps for Teens!

Dear Parents, As parents of teenagers, you want the very best for your children. As faithful Catholics, you want them to grow closer to the Church in their teen years, not drift More »

Left to right: Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, Superintendent; Fr. Joe Martina, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish; Dr. Carynn Wiggins, Principal; Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis; Jamie Humphrey, Religion Teacher

Relgious Education Gets Boost at Our Lady of Fatima

by Bonny Van During the school year, Wednesday morning Mass for students at Our Lady of Fatima School in Monroe is much more than just a time to celebrate the Eucharist.  It’s More »

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Vocations View: The Identity and Role of a Deacon

by Duane Trombetta, Seminarian By the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is appointed to nourish the people of the Church with God’s Word and grace in the name of Christ.  He More »

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Faithful Food: Vulnerability and Risk

by Kim Long Words and their meanings have become causalities in our current world. It seems we can be overly casual with their meanings, “loving” everything from soda to chocolate and “knowing” More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Embracing All Prayer Types

by Mike Van Vranken I recently overheard two people discussing (maybe arguing) about whose form of prayer was best. One thought Sunday Mass was the best form of prayer because they could More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Don’t Be Afraid to Be “Religious”

by Bishop Michael G. Duca I think it is fair to say that in today’s secular culture there is a bias against religion. Maybe the bias against it has always been there, More »

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Our Lady of Fatima Plenary Indulgence

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship On Saturday, May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis declared canonized saints, Jacinta and Francesco Marto, two of More »

Fidel Mondragon’s Ordination

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by Jessica Rinaudo

Before Fidel Mondragon landed in the Diocese of Shreveport, he spent many years in various seminaries, countries and a religious order, discerning the vocation God had planned for his life. After being a seminarian for the Diocese of Dallas, which downsized their foreign vocations, Fidel returned to Mexico before becoming a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport. That was two years ago.

And Fidel has made the most out of his two years as a seminarian for our diocese. He first went to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans where he took review classes on the sacraments and history of the Church, as well as English as a Second Language. He relished this time both for improving his English and for getting to know his brother seminarians of our diocese. Of them Fidel said,  “I got to know them, because once a month we would have dinner together – we would talk about how things were going.”

After finishing his seminary classes in May of last year, Fidel moved to Mansfield, where he assisted Fr. Matthew Long in parish life.
“When I arrived in Mansfield, I got involved with the community,” said Fidel. “I helped the Hispanic and Anglo communities… I started a new program – Christian Formation for Adults and Bible classes with Hispanics on Tuesdays. I visited people, I prayed the rosary with them. I helped Fr. Matthew with the Masses.”

During this time he also taught adult formation classes and assisted with retreats at St. Mary of the Pines in Shreveport, and Christ the King in Bossier City. His formation classes expanded to St. Thomas Aquinas in Ruston and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Farmerville, allowing Fidel to become acquainted with people across the diocese.

It was during this time that Fidel organized a Year of Mercy event for the Hispanic community.

“Rosalba Quiroz [Hispanic Ministry Director] asked me to organize the visit to the Holy Door with the Hispanic Community because it was the Year of Mercy. We invited all of the diocese. … We organized a Stations of the Cross and did them in the Cathedral. After that, we explained the Year of Mercy, the meaning of mercy and why Pope Francis convoked the Year of Mercy. Then we had a holy hour with Fr. Rigo Betancurt, Fr. Al Jost and Fr. Blane O’Neill.  Bishop Duca was there, too,” said Fidel.

On December 10, 2016, Fidel was ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Mary of the Pines, and a month later Bishop Duca assigned him to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, also serving St. Mary of the Pines two days a week. He still continues in this assignment.

“In the Cathedral I help with the everyday Mass and I have helped two times with the homily in English,” said Fidel “I help with the funerals, with the school Masses.”

After two years, Fidel has adjusted from life in Mexico to life in north Louisiana, and embraces his vocation here with open arms. The people and clergy, in turn, have welcomed him warmly.

“I am so grateful for Bishop Duca and all the priests here. They are very kind to me and welcome me. They tell me, ‘Fidel you are welcome. We are very glad to have you.’ They encourage me,” said Fidel.

“I feel comfortable here, I feel welcome in both communities. The Spanish community, ok they love you, but the Anglo community is very warm and they receive me,” added Fidel.

“I want to be part of this diocese, to consecrate my life as a priest,” he said.

And after so many years of discerning and traveling, Fidel is excited to finally be approaching his ordination to the priesthood and his ministry as a Catholic priest.

“I look forward to helping the people. I want to be the person who can manifest this mercy of God, this love of God and help the people be close to Christ. Because I talk with the people… they need somebody to hear them. I know my priest ordination is close, but this is when my work will begin,” said Fidel.
He added, “I remember my instructors in the seminary said, ‘This is not your goal to be a priest. The goal is first, your salvation.’ Following this vocation, I want to be with God, but I want many people, through me to be saved, too. They will hear the Word of God. I can give the Body of Christ. I can forgive sins, it is not me, but I can be this instrument. … This is what I want most for the people: to be this instrument to manifest the mercy of God, the love of God and drive them to Christ.”

As he reflected back on his long journey to the priesthood, Fidel shared stories of his time in seminary. One in particular reflected his vocational path.
“Sometimes when I was walking in the seminary, I would say, ‘I have this class and it is very difficult. And I will have a presentation tomorrow and the priest, he is tough.’ But I did my presentation, and when I finished I felt very good. I said, ‘This is not me on my own. Many people are praying for me, for my vocation. My family, my friends, the people around the world are praying for the seminarians, for the priests. … And after this difficult presentation I went to the chapel and I said, ‘Thank you God. For you are behind me, you sustain me. And I want to continue – because if you continue calling me, I want to continue answering you.’”

Fidel’s ordination to the priesthood will be Saturday, June 10, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Bishop Michael Duca will ordain Fidel as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport. All members of the faithful are encouraged to attend.

“As a diocese, we are fortunate that Fidel’s journey has brought him to us so that he can serve the wonderful people of our region,” said Bishop Duca.  “I am anxious for our local Church to benefit from his ministry as an ordained priest and I believe he has so much to offer to our entire faith community.”

Pope Francis Celebrated Mass and Canonization at Fatima Shrine

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At 10:00 a.m. on May 13, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fátima, on the plaza of the Shrine, the Holy Father Francis celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions, during which the Blesseds Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto were canonized. The Eucharistic Celebration was attended by the Presidents of the Republic of Portugal, of Paraguay and of São Tomé e Príncipe, whom the pope greeted at the end of the rite.

During the Mass, after the rite of canonization and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced the following homily:

“[There] appeared in heaven a woman clothed with the sun.” So the seer of Patmos tells us in the Book of Revelation (12:1), adding that she was about to give birth to a son. Then, in the Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciple, “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27). We have a Mother! “So beautiful a Lady,” as the seers of Fatima said to one another as they returned home on that blessed day of May 13, a hundred years ago. That evening, Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: “Today I saw Our Lady.” They had seen the Mother of Heaven. Many others sought to share that vision, but… they did not see her. The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her. We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to heaven.

Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in His creatures. Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell. Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us, for, as we heard in the first reading, “the child [of the woman] was snatched away and taken to God” (Rev 12:5). In Lucia’s account, the three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady. She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her. According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of Light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth. We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: “show unto us… Jesus.”

Dear pilgrims, we have a Mother. We have a Mother! Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus. As we heard in the second reading, “those who receive the abundance of the grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17). When Jesus ascended to heaven, He brought to the Heavenly Father our humanity, which He assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and will never forsake. Like an anchor, let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father. May this hope guide our lives! It is a hope that sustains us always, to our dying breath.

Confirmed in this hope, we have gathered here to give thanks for the countless graces bestowed over these past hundred years. All of them passed beneath the mantle of light that Our Lady has spread over the four corners of the earth, beginning with this land of Portugal, so rich in hope. We can take as our examples Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta, whom the Virgin Mary introduced into the immense ocean of God’s light and taught to adore Him. That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering. God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle.

In her Memoirs, Sister Lucia quotes Jacinta who had just been granted a vision: “Do you not see all those streets, all those paths and fields full of people crying out for food, yet have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And all those people praying with him?” Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being here with me! I could not fail to come here to venerate the Virgin Mary and to entrust to her all her sons and daughters. Under her mantle they are not lost; from her embrace will come the hope and the peace that they require, and that I implore for all my brothers and sisters in baptism and in our human family, especially the sick and the disabled, prisoners and the unemployed, the poor and the abandoned. Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to God with the hope that others will hear us; and let us speak to others with the certainty that God will help us.

Indeed, God created us to be a source of hope for others, a true and attainable hope, in accordance with each person’s state of life. In “asking” and “demanding” of each of us the fulfilment of the duties of our proper state (Letters of Sister Lucia, 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia. We do not want to be a stillborn hope! Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). The Lord, Who always goes before us, said this and did this. Whenever we experience the cross, he has already experienced it before us. We do not mount the cross to find Jesus. Instead it was he who, in his self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us, and to bring us back to the light.

With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Savior, resplendent at Easter. Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love. •

Kids’ Connection: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.

Help Collect Socks for Prison Ministry

by Mary Morgan, Prison Minister

Our feet are very important to us and just like Dr. Seuss wrote, “they all look different: little feet, big feet, long feet, short feet, white, brown, black or yellow feet.” Feet are everywhere and God loves them all. Jesus did a lot of walking and talking about them. He let a woman wash his feet and was pleased when she anointed them. At the Last Supper he washed the apostles’ feet.

Why am I writing about feet? Because I have discovered a need. Back in the early 90’s a mother in my parish was making visits to see her son in the parish jail. I felt in my heart the phrase, “Offer to go with her.” What began as a message from the Holy Spirit eventually turned into a calling to assist in Prison Ministry, and those heart messages have never stopped coming. Since that time I have visited many correctional centers and written many letters to prisoners.

Today, I have this dream to tell you about – a Christmas starting in July dream. On one of my weekly visits to the Bossier Max facility, I noticed the worn out white socks on most of the prisoners’ feet. When they arrive, they must give up everything they come in with (even socks). They are given a striped top and pants and a slipper type pair of shoes. If someone arrives without any funds to purchase socks, they depend on other inmates to share any extras. The floors are concrete and cold, and they only get a small sleeping blanket.

I am working to give a new pair of socks to each person in the facility for Christmas. In Bossier that is about 1,400 individuals. If we as the Catholic Church could collect 1,400 pairs of socks, we would have enough for all of these prisoners.

Someone will thank you from the “bottom of their feet” one day if you help with this endeavor.

Churches and groups wanting to donate men’s socks should contact Mary Morgan at 318-742-3774.

Catholic Charities Presents Bingo on the Bayou

by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities’ popular fundraiser, “Bingo on the Bayou,” is returning this year on Saturday, August 19th.  After selling out last year’s event, “Bingo on the Bayou” will move to East Ridge Country Club in order to accommodate more people.  In addition to seven games of bingo, the fundraiser will include dinner and a silent auction.

Local priests from around the diocese will once again serve as bingo callers for the event with prizes being gift certificates to upscale local restaurants.
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.
If you are interested in serving on the event committee, please contact Lucy Medvec at lmedvec@ccnla.org.  For sponsorship information or to order tickets, please contact the Catholic Charities office at 318-865-0200 ext. 101.

Plans for SVdP Banquet Underway

Presentation at the 2016 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet, "Not Too Far From Here."

by Jim Beadles, Vice President of Diocesan Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Blessings come in many diverse packages. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is no exception.  As a mission, more than 275 local Vincentians provide services such as rent and utility assistance, furniture, food and pharmacy services. The entire organization consists of volunteers.  There is no paid staff or overhead, and virtually every dollar raised goes to help those in need.  In 2016, local Vincentians conducted more than 2,400 in-home visits, and helped more than 12,000 of our neighbors.

All of our resources come from the generosity of the community, and we are grateful for the gifts that sustain our ministry.  Our primary fundraiser each year is the St. Vincent de Paul Annual Banquet, which will be held this year on September 12 at the Bossier Civic Center.

To say we were blessed by being a part of the 2016 banquet would be a gross understatement.  The theme of last year was based on the song, “Not Too Far From Here.” That song has a strong message that regardless of where you are, you do not have to look very far to find someone waiting for you to be the face of Christ in their life.

We had two incredible speakers:  Bishop Lawrence Brandon from Praise Temple, and Dr. Pat Day from First United Methodist  And, if that was not enough, the Centenary Choir performed several songs, including the theme song, leaving most of us speechless and inspired.

The success of the 2016 Banquet set the bar high for 2017.  We heard from so many people about how much they enjoyed the program, as well as from many who were unable to attend but heard about it, that we decided to present the “Not Too Far From Here…Encore” for the 2017 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet.
This year, we have as speakers Andrew Randall from Abounding Faith Temple, and Dr. Brad Jurkovich from First Bossier.  Having speakers from other faiths is important, as we understand that no one faith or group can create the systemic change needed to truly make a difference in the lives of those we serve.
The Centenary Choir will also make a return appearance!  Please join us on September 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bossier Civic Center.  Tickets will go on sale soon. Look for more information in your bulletins and online at our website www.svdpshreveport.org, or on Facebook at St. Vincent de Paul Shreveport.
On behalf of all Vincentians, I want to thank Bishop Duca for the continued blessing of his support.  It is sincerely appreciated.  See you in September! •

Aging Out Loud

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

There is a smile on God’s face and music in His voice as He looks upon all who are aging out loud. Aging needs not only our loving, personal attention, but listening from the heart to what older adults have to say to everyone.

Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Our joy must be shared with others.
Don’t allow our wrinkles or graying hair to slow down our gait or rob us of life’s aging joys as we celebrate who we have become. We can still “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).

Our journey of aging is not finished until we finish serving others. Who knows where we are going and exactly what will happen as we age out loud by not allowing stress, loneliness and depression to take hold of our lives?

In this life only three things should be uppermost in our minds: faith, hope and love – not age. This month, create a sense of unity among others by inspiring them. Look for others who are showing us what getting older looks like and listen to the issues they are concerned about. Speak out about important aging issues. We shouldn’t keep silent or disconnect ourselves from others as we age, lest we breed all sorts of maladies of the body, mind and spirit.

For me, aging is a lifetime of fruitfulness, love, graying hair, wrinkles and the joy that is our birthright from God because we belong to Him. He is a God of unlimited abundance and has more than enough for us. Blessed are we who have made good use of our years! Blessed are the aging hearts who wait patiently for their lives to be increased, theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Time is not our enemy, but our friend. Let us not delay any longer, but age out loud, filling our lives with laughter, friends and family and allowing the Spirit to move our hearts to do new things.

May our aging out loud be iced with the beauty of our mind, spirit, connectedness and decorated with happiness, joy, respect, friends, love and laughter. May we be filled with new attitudes about what it means to be ourselves.  Thank God for all the tomorrows as we live our future closer to Him. •

New Priest Assignments Across the Diocese

Priest New Assignment Effective Date
Fr. Jerry Daigle Pastoral Administrator, St. Clement, Vivian June 1, 2017, until a pastor is named
Fr. Karl Daigle Pastor, St. Jude, Benton June 1, 2017
Fr. Mark Franklin Pastor, St. Matthew, Monroe July 1, 2017
Fr. Keith Garvin Relieved as Pastoral Administrator, St. Matthew, Monroe
(Will continue as pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd)
July 1, 2017
Fr. Charles Glorioso Holy Angels Masses May 3, 2017
Fr. Tim Hurd Pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Shreveport September 1, 2017
Fr. Joseph Kallookalam, CMI Pastor, St. Patrick, Lake Providence & Sacred Heart, Oak Grove July 1, 2017
Fr. Matthew Long Pastor, St. Joseph, Shreveport July 1, 2017
Fr. Joseph Martina Pastor, St. Pius X, Shreveport July 1, 2017
Fr. James McLelland Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. Philip Michiels Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. James Moran, CO St. Joseph, Mansfield & St. Ann, Stonewall July 1, 2017
Fr. Richard Norsworthy Pastor, St. Joseph, Zwolle July 1, 2017
Fr. Rothell Price Pastoral Administrator, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Shreveport June 1 – August 29, 2017
Fr. Lijo Thomas, CMI Pastoral Administrator, Our Lady of Fatima, Monroe
(In addition to current assignment as Pastor, St. Joseph, Bastrop)
July 1 – October 31, 2017
Fr. Pike Thomas Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. Mark Watson Pastor, Christ the King, Bossier City July 1, 2017
Fr. Biju Kurakose, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival
Fr. Joseph Kuzichalil, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival
Fr. Paul Thundurparampil, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival

Thank You for Strong Appeal Performance!

by John Mark Willcox

The 2017 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal is three quarters of the way home with the following churches achieving pledge goal and locations at or above our overall diocesan percentage of pledge goal (74%) for this year:

Pledge Goal or Higher:
• St. Mary of the Pines – Shreveport
• Mary, Queen of Peace – Bossier City
• St. Ann – Ebarb
• St. Lawrence – Swartz
• St. Margaret – Homer
• St. Terence – Toledo Bend

At or Above Diocesan Percentage of Pledge Goal:
• Cathedral of St. John Berchmans – Shreveport
• St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Shreveport
• St. Jude – Benton
• Jesus the Good Shepherd – Monroe
• Holy Trinity – Shreveport
• St. Joseph – Zwolle
• St. Joseph – Mansfield
• St. Paschal – West Monroe
• St. John the Baptist – Many
• Sacred Heart – Shreveport
• Sacred Heart – Rayville
• St. Patrick – Lake Providence
• St. Clement – Vivian
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Farmerville
• St. George – Coushatta
• St. Theresa – Delhi
• St. Joseph – Bastrop
• Sacred Heart – Oak Grove

Bishop Duca thanks all our worship locations and the faithful throughout the diocese who have contributed to this year’s Appeal campaign. If you have yet to participate, your help is needed! Our goal is $1.5 million and the Church counts on your support to provide for the people of our diocese.  You can participate by using the 2017 Appeal pledge card found on page 30 of this issue. May God bless you for your generosity!  •

Join Us for Summer Catholic Camps for Teens!

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Dear Parents,

As parents of teenagers, you want the very best for your children. As faithful Catholics, you want them to grow closer to the Church in their teen years, not drift away from it. You want them to discover their true vocations in life, whatever they may be. Most of all, you want your child to be happy – to be well educated, well rounded and well loved.

I want those things for your children, too. And not just for your kids, but for every teenager in our diocese. That’s essentially why we created the Mission Possible and Beloved summer camps. Over the past six years, I’ve seen firsthand what these camps do for our Catholic teens. Time and again, I’ve seen the proverbial “light bulb” go off, not just in their heads, but in their hearts.

In a very real way, our annual Summer Camps help “launch” teens into life. The camps are a springboard for becoming strong men and women who love Jesus and the Church, and are open to God’s will in their lives.

As I look back on my young adulthood, I can pinpoint key moments when I made choices for good – choices for God. For me, these moments began in my teens and continued in my twenties. I can say with sincerity that I wish I would have attended a camp like the ones offered by our diocese.

So I want to encourage you in the strongest possible language: please seriously consider registering your child for Beloved (July 13-16) or Mission Possible (July 16-19). Yes, the campers are going to have a blast. Yes, they are going to come home tired and happy. But most all, they are going to return home with a renewed love for Jesus. That, of course, is what matters most in life.

May the Lord bless you and your family in this Easter Season!

In Christ through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Matthew Long