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Saying Goodbye to Bishop William Friend

by John Mark Willcox The first thing you noticed about William Benedict Friend was his height.  Put an elongated miter on an already tall Bishop and you have an arresting sight.  “He More »

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Jerry Daigle Prepares for Priestly Ordination

When Jerry Daigle was in his 30s, life was pretty good. He had a good education, a nice house and a well-paying job. Now 46 years old, life is even better. Daigle More »

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Profile: Twins Use Special Gift to Bring Others Closer to God

On a Saturday afternoon on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the area around Fant-Ewing Coliseum is buzzing with energy. Students under a huge tent are selling plates of More »

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Bishop’s 5th Annual Pro-Life Banquet Most Successful Yet

The Bishop’s fifth annual Pro-Life Banquet on March 11 was an unprecedented success. Nearly 1,100 people, the largest number in the history of the banquet, were in attendance to celebrate the gift More »

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Catholic Charities: Celebrating Citizenship!

There are many programs and ways we give much needed assistance at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, and they all are gratifying for those who work at the agency.  However, there is More »

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Navigating the Faith: Mary: The Honor of Our Race

by Fr. Matthew Long, Vocations Director and Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Mansfield & St. Ann Church, Stonewall “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name More »

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Bishop’s May Reflection: Charity Must Begin at Home

by Bishop Michael Duca At the beginning of the year, I spoke of a need for the Diocese of Shreveport to consider our needs and priorities for the future.  In light of More »

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Catholic Life: There are Lots of Apps for That!

by Kelly Phelan Powell Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, websites like Facebook make it possible to stay in daily contact with even those friends and family members who More »

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15 Complete Charter Lifelong Faith Formation Program

Our diocese was affiliated with the Center for Ministry Development Certificate Program for two years prior to my presence in the diocese.  Traditionally the certificate offered by CMD was in Youth Ministry More »

Saying Goodbye to Bishop William Friend

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by John Mark Willcox

The first thing you noticed about William Benedict Friend was his height.  Put an elongated miter on an already tall Bishop and you have an arresting sight.  “He just looks like a bishop,” my father used to say, and despite his size, Bishop Friend had the softest hands you ever took into your own.  “It is the result of years of confirmations,” he used to say. “That oil is good for the skin and I have the softest thumbs in town.”  With his gentle, yet strong leadership, Bishop William B. Friend oversaw the birth of our diocesan faith community, our struggle to succeed in our early days of ministry and outreach, and he was with us to celebrate our marvelous anniversary of 25 years of existence as the Diocese of Shreveport. While his soul reclines at table with the Lord, his mortal remains returned to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans on April 14, where we celebrated his Mass of Christian Burial and laid him to rest in the Cathedral’s Memorial Garden where we will honor him into the future.
Growing up in Miami was the perfect heat training for a bishop to be sent to a climate as warm as the Diocese of Shreveport.  One may have noticed during his many years among us that Bishop Friend never popped a sweat despite being draped in the many layers of Church vestments that he wore during our liturgical celebrations.  Cool, calm and straightforward was the way he celebrated our worship together, and that is also the way he ran his Chancery.

A true coffee lover, Bishop Friend even drank it with his meals where he enjoyed visiting with his table guests and especially, laughing with them.  William B. Friend always insisted that God has a sense of humor, and his laugh was very distinct, and you knew it was him somewhere in the building when you heard that laugh.  Staff parties that featured skits and video parodies were a favorite pastime, even if he was the butt of half the jokes.  He would release that patented belly laugh and the celebration began.  Also known for his quips, Bishop Friend had a cadre of sayings that we among his Curia all came to know well, “The things we do for Jesus,” or his favorite wise crack as the work day was just minutes from finishing, “Just take the rest of the day off.”

Like the true German decedent he was, Bishop Friend had amazing abilities when it came to creating structure.  When he erected our diocese at the urging of St. John Paul II, he had a plan for what he wanted and he set about executing it in those formative years of the mid 1980’s.  With the help of his late Vicar General, Msgr. Walter Walsh, and a dedicated group of faithful donors, he secured the first Catholic Center on Shreveport’s Line Avenue.  He established offices for the chancery, schools, finances, development and public relations, canonical services, Greco Institute, catechetics and social outreach.  Bishop Friend had specific people in mind for those offices and he sought them out and inspired them to join his team.

With an intellect honed by years of education and ministerial experience, Bishop Friend’s presence on governing boards and as a presenter was sought after by a host of organizations and his brother bishops in America and abroad.  His list of published works, selected papers and speeches presented for the good of the Church, is beyond impressive.  Bishop Friend spent ample time away from our diocese sharing his keen knowledge with others for the sake of the gospel.  Educational institutions, seminaries, research laboratories, social outreach programs and many other entities both in America and across the globe owe a debt of gratitude for his unique input and guidance.

Before his retirement, Bishop Friend served as Secretary to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the apex of the clergy sex abuse scandal in 2001 and 2002.  His efforts during that difficult time for Catholics helped create our Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which has become the cornerstone of the Church’s successful Safe Environment Program.  We shared many conversations during that dark hour for the Catholic Church in America, and we tried to keep each other’s spirits up as we dealt with those dreadful circumstances. Bishop Friend was proud of the quick work done on that Charter by the USCCB, often saying “You give a group of Catholic bishops a tough job on a short timeline, and they will get things done!”

Ecumenism was another of Bishop Friend’s many talents.  He mixed quite easily with people and ministers of other faith traditions, and I was fortunate to accompany him on many of his visits to other churches where he was constantly invited to speak.  I can truthfully attest that he never left without charming those who heard him.  Many times, Bishop Friend had clergy of other traditions in his home for meals and spirited conversation.  He even garnered the respect of local street gangs who sought him out for advice and mediation with their rivals.

Bishop Friend was always touting the latest book resting on his nightstand, or musing over modern scientific discoveries and projections.  He loved to look forward and plan for what he believed he could envision coming down the road.  His work on the Human Genome Project and Bioethics at the request of Rome during the late 1990s was groundbreaking.  Science absolutely fascinated the man, and he never had a problem attributing the wonders of the scientific world to the glory of our creator, always insisting that “Science and religion go hand in hand.”

William Friend was especially sensitive to the needs of the migrant, the minority and those people on the fringes of society.  The genesis of these feelings was his early assignment as a parish priest in the inner city of Birmingham, AL at St. Stanislaus Church.  He once told me that out of concern, he followed a young African American boy home from Church one afternoon and discovered that the child was living in a chicken coop on the edge of town.  The sadness reflected in his caring, watery blue eyes while sharing that story has never left me. Bishop Friend’s 1990 pastoral document on racism entitled “That All May Be One” came at a very tense time in Louisiana’s political history and remains a true gift that he leaves behind for the people of God.  He also was very aggressive in lobbying the local poultry industry to treat fairly their predominately Hispanic workforce, and he created one of the first diocesan Hispanic Ministry offices in the region.

There are those among Church leadership that are also gifted with the insight to accurately predict Catholic events and changes in leadership and direction.  Bishop Friend was certainly one of those individuals.  He knew so many people who worked for the Church in a vast array of ministries and education.  He had a keen ability to sense a shift within the Church, and those individuals who would be the lead agents in these changes.  This ultimately resulted in Bishop Friend serving for five years as Board Chair for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) in Washington, DC.  His leadership helped establish CARA as one of the most respected Catholic Research organizations in the United States.
That laugh now echoes off the portals of heaven as after 83 years, Bishop William B. Friend has heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  He can spend his time visiting with souls who are smarter than he (there were so few here on this mortal earth) and laugh at will while consuming the best coffee and enjoying unlimited “time off” in paradise, all without breaking a sweat.  Ah, the things we do for Jesus!

Jerry Daigle Prepares for Priestly Ordination

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When Jerry Daigle was in his 30s, life was pretty good. He had a good education, a nice house and a well-paying job.
Now 46 years old, life is even better.

Daigle has spent the last six years at Notre Dame Seminary on the path to the priesthood. The vocation has been on his mind since he was a young boy, “playing Mass” with barbecue chips and red Kool-Aid. On May 16, the day of his priestly ordination, he looks forward to celebrating Mass and living out a moment more beautiful than anything he’s ever experienced.

“On May 16, when I stand up after my ordination, I’m going to stand next to the Bishop and I will concelebrate, I will offer with him the Sacrifice of our Lord for the salvation of every soul. I mean, wow, what an incredible moment,” he said.

Daigle said he and his fellow seminarians have grown in mercy throughout the formation process, something that will be necessary when it comes to administering the Sacraments of Healing. The whole experience has left Daigle overflowing with humility — something he’s experienced incrementally throughout his life.

He remembers being humbled by the beauty surrounding him where he grew up in the Dust Bowl of North Texas. He was humbled to find out how much he needed God when he left the Church briefly after high school. He is most humbled now, because after he becomes a priest, he will bring an encounter with Christ to his parishioners through the Sacraments — ministering to them in persona Christi.

“In a couple of months, the Lord’s going to be forgiving sins through our ministry. Quite frankly, we’re all pretty much floored by it,” Daigle said. “We have the formula for absolution memorized, but as often as I say it, I still have trouble thinking of someone actually coming to Jesus through me for that Sacrament. What a profound thing, and what an immense responsibility.”

The first major milestone on the path to that responsibility happened last year, when Daigle was ordained a transitional deacon on May 31, 2014.
“You always think about that moment. In seminary, you almost kind of live for that moment, it seems. Then the moment comes,” Daigle said. “When it was time for me to get up after I was ordained, Bishop Michael Duca sort of leaned over in case I needed help. As our heads got close to each other, our eyes met, and he whispered to me, ‘Rise a deacon.’ That was really cool, and it kind of completed the moment.”

“I need to tell him before I’m ordained a priest, ‘Please do that again,” Daigle laughed.

Over the last year, since becoming a deacon, Daigle has performed baptisms and assisted at Mass and with marriages. He has ministered to the sick through hospital ministry, and he has preached God’s Word. Recently, he presided as Deacon at his own grandfather’s funeral.

“That was beautiful, and it was challenging in ways I didn’t expect,” he said. “It was very different for me. With your family, you’re not always ‘the adult.’ You’re ‘little Johnny,’ and not necessarily ‘Deacon Jerry.’ All of a sudden, I realized they’re not looking at me like I’m a family member. They were looking at me like I’m a minister of God. It was a profound moment, and it was really a formational moment.

“I’ve come to realize more and more — we seminarians always knew it intellectually but now we’ve experienced it and it has entered into our hearts — that we’re being sought out by people. During so many of life’s moments, the priest is there.”

Daigle has traveled the world with his fellow seminarians and has affirmed, each day, that he is where he is supposed to be.
“In the beginning, I thought, ‘I’m never going to make it six years in seminary.’ I look back now and it seems like it’s gone by in a blink — even though I’ve lived and felt every single second of it,” he said.

Daigle’s priestly formation began well before he entered seminary. In 1986, he graduated from high school. He went on to get an undergraduate degree and a Masters, then started a career with a cellphone company. He remained career-oriented, and started climbing the corporate ladder.
“I stepped away from the Church, like many young people, and tried to do my own thing,” he said. “The thing is, the tug was always there, and I always kept being drawn back to the Church. Doing my own thing never really felt right.”

As the years went by, Daigle’s on-and-off faith became more and more important. He became involved with ministering to at-risk teenagers and needy families, which brought him deeper into his faith and elevated his formation.

Inspired by the Rule of Saint Benedict, Daigle began to practice his spiritual life throughout the day, praying the Liturgy of the Hours at home and at his office in Monroe. Though his prayer life was private, he saw it lead to positive changes around his workplace, and his employees began talking to him about their experiences with God, causing him to open his heart and mind to the concerns of others.

“That just started opening doors in my own spiritual life, helped me listen,” Daigle said. “That’s key I think, to any call — to hear God and what he wants.”


Thoughts of the priesthood continued lingering in the back of his mind, but there was always something keeping him away from seminary.
“I have a career,” he thought. “I have a mortgage. I’m not going to be able to sell my house. How am I going to be five hours away in New Orleans with no income? What if I quit my career? I’m 40 years old. Nobody’s going to hire me. What will I do with all the stuff I’ve accumulated?”

Ultimately, none of those things mattered. Daigle was called to the priesthood. It simply took a lot of time in the secular world before he was ready. His career, one that ranged from customer service, to sales, to management, put him into contact with every imaginable personality and circumstance. It taught him about humanity.

“If you have a problem with your bill, I was the guy you went to,” he said. “It put me in front of hundreds of people each week. Then I went into sales and retail. It exposed me to every type of person and scenario you could think of. It opened my horizons.”

His life has taken him in and out and back into the Church and ultimately into a role of ministry, something that could never have happened in 1986.

“I used to think I was running away from the priesthood, that I was hiding,” he said. “But I’ve thought about it and prayed about it over the years, and I’ve come to realize that’s not true. I wouldn’t be the minister God wanted me to be if I didn’t. I needed to have experiences in the secular world before I entered the religious world. I needed to gain maturity.”

As the days of living in a dorm with 100 seminarians — with all the joys and challenges — are winding down, Daigle jokes about it: “We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we know there’s not a freight train coming at us. We’ve figured that out, there’s actually light.”
But he also feels a combination of humble joy and fear about becoming a priest, emotions that come together nicely for Daigle as he lives out his final days as Deacon Jerry.

“Maybe that’s a weird juxtaposition, but it’s the best way I can describe the feeling,” he said. “It’s such an awesome responsibility, and boy, it can be a little overwhelming to think about it.”

In his final weeks before becoming a priest, Daigle can reflect back on the last six years.

“There is nothing in the world like seminary,” he said. “It’s crazy, and I’ve been through college and grad school. There’s always a tension in seminary that defines our time here.”

There is the academic side — Daigle went through two years of philosophy and two years of Latin, which “can be challenging for a 40-year-old” — and the spiritual side, “which is hard, real hard,” he said. “We’re not just changing our lives intellectually. This is changing who we are. That’s a radically different prospect. But that’s what Jesus calls each of us to do.”

by Matt Yogus, Vianney Vocations

Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy

Vatican City (VIS) – Following the first announcement of the next extraordinary Holy Year by Pope Francis on March 13, the Holy Father  proceeded with the official indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy with the publication of the Bull of Indiction on Saturday April 11, at 5.30 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The rite of publication involved the reading of various passages of the Bull before the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica. Pope Francis subsequently presided at the celebration of First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, thus underlining in a particular way the fundamental theme of the extraordinary Holy Year: God’s Mercy.

The term bull (from the Latin bulla = bubble or, more generally, a rounded object) originally indicated the metal capsule used to protect the wax seal attached with a cord to a document of particular importance, to attest to its authenticity and, as a consequence, its authority. Over time, the term began to be used first to indicate the seal, then the document itself, so that nowadays it is used for all papal documents of special importance that bear, or at least traditionally would have borne, the Pontiff’s seal.

The bull for the indiction of a jubilee, for instance in the case of an extraordinary Holy Year, aside from indicating its time, with the opening and closing dates and the main ways in which it will be implemented, constitutes the fundamental document for recognizing the spirit in which it is announced, and the intentions and the outcomes hoped for by the Pontiff, who invokes it for the Church.

In the case of the last two extraordinary Holy Years, 1933 and 1983, the Bull of Indiction was published on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. For the next extraordinary Holy Year, the choice of the occasion on which the publication of the Bull will take place clearly demonstrates the Holy Father’s particular attention to the theme of Mercy.

Pope Meets Detainees at Poggioreale Penitentiary

Vatican City (VIS) – On March 22, the Pope visited the Giuseppe Salvia Penitentiary in Poggioreale. Upon arrival he was welcomed by the director of the centre and the chaplain, and he greeted the detainees from the forecourt of the institution. The Holy Father handed them a brief written discourse, several paragraphs of which are reproduced below:

“At times we feel disillusioned, discouraged, abandoned by everyone, but God does not forget his children – He never abandons them. He is always at our side, especially in times of difficulty; the Father is ‘rich in mercy. … This is a certainty that gives comfort and hope, especially in difficult and sad times. Although we have erred in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back to the path and encounter with Him. … It is a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison.”

“Dear brothers, I know your painful situations: I receive many letters – some truly moving – from prisons around the world. Inmates often live in conditions unworthy of human beings, and subsequently are unable to reintegrate into society. But, thanks be to God, there are also leaders, chaplains, educators, pastoral workers who know how to stay close to you in the right way. There are some good and meaningful experiences of reintegration. We must work on this, to develop these positive experiences, so they help nurture a different attitude in the civil community and also in the community of the Church. At the basis of this commitment is the conviction that love can always transform the human person.”

“I invite you to live every day, every moment in the presence of God, to Whom the future of the world and of man belong. This is Christian hope: the future is in Gods hands. History makes sense because it is inhabited by Gods goodness.”

Profile: Twins Use Special Gift to Bring Others Closer to God

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On a Saturday afternoon on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the area around Fant-Ewing Coliseum is buzzing with energy. Students under a huge tent are selling plates of food, and basketball fans wearing maroon and white are making their way inside the arena.  It is almost time for the basketball team to take the court.

Inside, the air is electric with the sounds of high energy music coming from the loud speakers and the players warming up. Fans are talking and visiting, players are high-fiving, the band is setting up to play and both sides of the court are lined with students and staff sitting at tables behind computers and audio equipment.

Just off courtside are twins Toni and Jeannie Adams, huddled together and soaking it all in.  They are petite, standing 5 feet tall, and they are dressed in similar outfits. It is almost time and you can see the excitement on their faces.  Soon, the heavy-based music fades and the arena goes silent.  A deep voice resonates over the loudspeaker, announcing the basketball game and asking the audience to stand for the national anthem, sung by Toni and Jeannie Adams of Monroe.

The young ladies take equal steps forward to the microphone, their shoulders almost touching.  With one deep breath, taken in unison, they begin to sing  “The Star Spangled Banner” a capella.  As their voices start in unison, you immediately know that what you are hearing is something special, something different and something you simply can’t describe.  Then they begin to harmonize on parts of the song that you didn’t think could be harmonized, and as the song leads to its crescendo, the dual voices of Toni and Jeannie rise to the occasion.

Just days earlier, Toni and Jeannie celebrated their 23rd birthday.  “We went to our family’s restaurant,” says Jeannie.  “Yes, our family’s restaurant,” echoes Toni.  On March 3, Jeannie and Toni were surrounded by loved ones at Genusa’s, Monroe’s iconic Italian restaurant, which also happens to be owned by their uncle and aunt, Frances and Cherry Genusa.  That celebration not only marked another year in the twins’ lives, but it also celebrated their lives and their journey to growing up into successful, remarkable young ladies who touch everyone they meet through their music, their strong faith in God and their genuine love for others.  “I think God always intended for them to have a music ministry,” says Theresa Brandle, a family friend.  “They sing from the heart and it speaks to the soul.”

Toni Catherine Adams and Jeannie Frances Adams are identical twins, born 23 years ago to parents Judy and Gary Adams.  But, according to their mother, Judy, something happened in utero.  “The eggs split in half and the wires processing language got crossed.  Doctors called it the ‘twinning affect.’”  As they grew older, Judy, who teaches the hearing impaired for the Ouachita Parish School system, knew something was not right.

“My son Mark, who was two years older than the girls, would ask me, ‘When are they going to talk to me?’ So we’d use a holiday as a deadline.  But Toni and Jeannie would only talk to each other, in their ‘twin’ language.”  Other types of behavior began to show as the girls got older. “They were hyper and they had fears. We tried to take them to the park. We took them to the mall and that didn’t go well,” said Judy.  After visits to doctors both in Monroe and New Orleans, the family learned that the girls had a delay in their language development, but they began to see something else unexpected developing: a response to music.

Judy vividly recalls the analysis of one doctor early in the process.  According to her, he said, “If I could’ve sung it, they could’ve done it.”  She says another doctor also knew the girls were very special.  “He said, ‘They are gifted.  If someone can find the key to unlock the box, these girls will be successful.’”

That “box” the doctor was referring to ended up containing beautiful, perfectly pitched singing voices. Toni and Jeannie’s father, Gary, sums it up this way: “God scrambled their language so they would sing for His glory.”

Early on, before their language began to fully develop, Toni and Jeannie were singing songs they heard on the kids’ TV shows.  They also frequently hummed tunes.  Their mother had the twins in voice lessons when they were still very young.  “They learned patriotic songs first,” says Judy.  “And, in first grade, they were singing “The Prayer” by Josh Groban and Celine Dion, including the last line, which is in Italian.”

“I’m grateful to be able to witness Toni and Jeannie’s journey.  I can’t tell you how much they have taught me about life, love and God’s amazing grace.  There’s no denying God’s mission for these two angels and I’m excited to see the rest of their journey,” said Brittney Adams, sister-in-law.

Toni and Jeannie continued their education through home schooling with Judy’s sister, Jo Ann Busby, and Learning Tech Quest School in Monroe.  Jo Ann, a retired special education teacher, says the girls have so many gifts besides their vocal talent.  “They have the gift of mercy,” she says.  “You would think they don’t know what’s going on in the world, but they understand everything and at nighttime, that is part of their prayers.  They ask plenty of questions. They are extremely gifted and their gifts are from God.”

“When the lady at Brookshire’s asked me what kind of flowers to put on their birthday cake, it was either roses or some other kind of flower I can’t remember, I said roses.  Definitely roses.  These girls are roses,” their mother Judy Adams said proudly.

by Bonny Van

Bishop’s 5th Annual Pro-Life Banquet Most Successful Yet

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The Bishop’s fifth annual Pro-Life Banquet on March 11 was an unprecedented success. Nearly 1,100 people, the largest number in the history of the banquet, were in attendance to celebrate the gift of life. As keynote speaker Fr. Jonathan Morris said, “I bet there’s a party going on in heaven tonight.” Event chairwoman Bernadette Boyd added, “I am humbled by the outpouring of love and kindness that our community is demonstrating to respect the sanctity of life.”

Serving as a powerful tool of awareness of the abortion crisis in the Diocese of Shreveport, the Bishop’s Pro-Life Banquet raised significant funds for pro-life activities throughout the diocese, including a new one, Mary’s House. Mary’s House will be a pregnancy crisis center for women who are dealing with unwanted pregnancies but who want to choose life. It will be a safe haven where volunteers will support women throughout their entire pregnancies and help them explore life-affirming options. They also want to help women beyond their pregnancies by ministering to them, helping them find work and resources in the community and counseling them to make positive life changes in the future.

Everyone in attendance at the banquet was encouraged to make a donation or pledge to Mary’s House, and many did, including several non-Catholics. “We were humbled and grateful that many of our friends from other faiths attended the banquet and also donated to Mary’s House,” said Boyd.

Guests at the banquet enjoyed Fr. Matthew Long as emcee, music by members of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra and a rousing vocal performance by Fr. Mike Joly, a dedicated priest and accomplished singer, songwriter and pianist who is blind. But the highlight of the evening was Fr. Morris, most commonly known as a news coordinator for the Fox News Channel. He spoke not only to the banquet attendees but also to two local Catholic schools about what exactly it means to choose, celebrate and witness to life in our day-to-day lives.

The winner of the Pro-Life Oratory contest, Moregan Gatti, read her compelling essay about the long-term physical and psychological effects of abortion.

As wonderful as this year’s event was, the committee began working toward next year’s Bishop’s Pro-Life Banquet before this year’s even took place. “Many have told me they did not attend but heard what a wonderful event it was. They regretted missing it but stated they are looking forward to attending next year,” said Boyd. If this year’s event is any indication, then the 2016 banquet is not to be missed.

by Kelly Phelan Powell

Catholic Charities: Celebrating Citizenship!

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There are many programs and ways we give much needed assistance at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, and they all are gratifying for those who work at the agency.  However, there is hardly anything we do in which we rejoice  more than when we help our immigrant neighbors obtain United States citizenship!

Since we began our Immigration Integration program in 2012, we have helped 26 people become American citizens.

It is not an easy road to citizenship.  There are many stringent requirements, such as a three to five year residency, good moral character and speaking English.  However, none of those requirements deterred Kimiko, who began life in this country as a janitor, working hard to make her American Dream a reality.  She worked her way up, and now Kimiko is the proud owner of her own business, a very successful local restaurant.
No obstacle could stop Claudia from her dream either.   Claudia loved this country from the beginning and showed that through her early work as a Peace Corp volunteer, going on many mission trips and learning what it means to give back.  Claudia is now working for the United States government in a nearby parish and is thankful every day for her success.

As we see it, our job is to help those who have no voice become integrated into our community as successful, contributing members who find hope and joy in life.  We recently added How to be Successful in the U.S. to our many classes (like English as Second Language) to support them in their journey.  As new citizens, now they can vote, be eligible for federal jobs, travel as any of us might with a U.S. passport and bring other family members to this country.  It is restorative to the community and to the family when these new citizens enjoy the life they dreamed of when they came here.  They are proud to show their patriotism and all that goes with their new status, and we are proud to have been a part of their success.  We think you can see all of that and more in their faces, and just ask any one of them about American history!  You may be surprised at their knowledge of their adopted home.

We hope you will join us in offering prayers of gratitude for these who have successfully joined us as fellow citizens and that you will pray for this program and all our programs that give dignity and hope to those who most need it.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Navigating the Faith: Mary: The Honor of Our Race

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by Fr. Matthew Long, Vocations Director and Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Mansfield & St. Ann Church, Stonewall

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  This line from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet could easily be said of the Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Wherever the Church stands and Our Lord Jesus Christ is worshiped, His Holy Mother is venerated, and each culture has found ways of expressing the role she has played in their lives, the lives of their nations and in the salvation and redemption of the world through the lofty titles they bestow upon her, the Mystic Rose.  In places like Guadalupe, Fatima, Lourdes, Einsiendeln and Knock, her title is based upon the fact that she appeared there to share some message with the people her Son calls His own.  There are also titles such as Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Our Lady of All Help, Our Lady of Abundance, Our Lady of Good Tidings, Comfort of Christians, Consoler of the Afflicted, Advocate of Sinners, and many others that reveal her role in our lives and the life of the world that Her Son came to save.  Then there are the titles such as Mediatrix of all Grace; Queen of Heaven, Angels, Martyrs and Saints; Ark of the New Covenant; Flower of Jesse’s Root; Gate of Heaven and others that reveal her important position in the Kingdom of her Son. There are many titles, far too many to list in this article, and all of them reveal to us the full breadth of what she means in the life of the Church and the life of the world.

My favorite title is “The Honor of Our Race.” From the first moment I heard it, it has stuck in my head. It is a noble title, a grand title, but of course it does not bear many of the more outstanding characteristics by which she is known.  For me “Honor of Our Race” is beautiful, not for her, but for us.

It is beautiful for us because it reveals to each and every one of us what is possible if we are willing to cooperate with God’s grace.  The Blessed Mother always said yes to God, from the moment she was conceived in the womb of St. Anne until she was assumed into heaven, body and soul.  And although she was full of grace that does not mean that she did not still have free will.  She not only had free will, but she exercised it at every moment that God placed a choice before her. However, the real reason she is the “Honor of Our Race” is because of what she did with her life.

She was a woman who lived out the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.  With faith, she responded to God willingly again and again, never questioning but always trusting.  She is one of the greatest examples of what it means to have faith, because Mary was called upon not to follow this or that teaching, but to trust God so much that she gave her entire life into His service.  She is the “Honor of Our Race” because she honors all humanity with her faithfulness.

With hope she trusted in an amazing way.  After she conceived, she did not stay next to Joseph to reassure him, she set off to visit her cousin, placing all hope in her future into the hands of God.  God lived up to His reassurances at the Annunciation.  Joseph not only married her but willingly protected her and the Child.  With hope she would also assist our blessed Lord in manifesting His divinity at the Wedding Feast at Cana.  She is the “Honor of Our Race” because she honors all humanity with her hopefulness.

With charity she demonstrated the love of God.  She assisted Elizabeth in her last months of pregnancy.  She cared for, loved and raised our Blessed Lord.  She also did not hinder Him as he set off to do the work of our redemption.  She always supported Him and loved Him even when she did not fully understand.  Ultimately it would be her resolve, standing at the base of the cross, that would give Him the courage to pour Himself out completely so that we could be redeemed and saved.  There are very few mothers on this earth who would willingly sacrifice their only child in order to save others.  She is the “Honor of Our Race” because she honors all humanity with her charity.

She is the Morning Star, the Star of the Sea, Tabernacle of God, Tower of David, Seat of Wisdom, Rose Ever Blooming, Queen Unconquered and Refuge of Sinners, but most importantly, she is the Honor of Our Race. The greatest honor that she gives us, however, is allowing us to call her our Blessed Mother.

Photo: Ceramic altarpiece of Our Lady of Fatima in the church of Remedios, Ceuta.

Domestic Church: “Be Yourself My Sanctity”

“But I don’t wanna do Quiet Time,” my three-year-old moaned. 1:30 p.m. had already passed and I’m quite possessive of our designated silence-all each afternoon. I need the calm.

“I know you don’t,” I said, in a feeble effort to validate him, “but everyone needs quiet time.”

“But I don’t WANT TO!” In our back-and-forth, his whiny protests raged fast; a key indicator that he needed rest. Doing my best to rein in frustration, I ushered him to bed, promising happy play time and delicious snacks if he would please just put his head down.

“But I don’t want to…” I closed the door and tiptoed to the living room, silently positioning myself on the couch, and finally exhaling.
Then footsteps and a door opening. “Mom? Is it time to get up now?” Sigh.

After 10 rounds of putting him back, he finally wore himself out protesting the injustice of naps, and by the end of it, I was reeling from the injustice myself.

My kids didn’t come with discipline. They don’t have the inner promptings to analyze and prioritize, so we the parents must possess the ability for them. From birth, we’ve shown them how to eat and when to nap; as they mature, we teach how to deny instant gratification and how to base decisions on pleasing God. It takes extreme work of will from Andrew and me; while our precious children learn, they look to our example and the boundaries we set. To be a parent is to be discipline itself until our kids develop the ability to do for themselves what we’ve demonstrated. Discipline has to be enforced in the beginning, then taught, and then finally, when a child matures, he desires it and takes it on himself.

Sainthood is strangely similar. Seemingly too lofty, it can seem as incomprehensible as discipline to a newborn. It’s a joy and closeness to Christ I desire to have, but with a whole map full of avenues I hardly know where to start. Read the Bible? Daily Mass? Confession? All roads at once? Without a clear approach, it’s easy to lose hope that holiness, let alone sainthood, is possible. Sainthood is what happens to people who have huge, miraculous conversions and blasts of intense, soulful reflection. I’ll be lucky to slip clandestinely into Purgatory, and even then I’ll be settled for a while.

Enter St. Therese. It’s amazing to know that such a well-known, beloved saint thought Heaven was impossibly out of reach: “I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, Oh My God, to Be Yourself My Sanctity.” In writing the question so many souls have, she also wrote the answer: Be my holiness for me. And just like that, my eyes were opened. Just as parents are discipline itself for their children, so God is holiness itself for us. Like discipline, God follows by teaching us his paths and then leading us in sanctity (Psalm 25). There have been too many times when I’ve thrown fits to match my three-year-old, but the more I ask God to help, the more deeply I desire to follow him. I know God wants me in Heaven with him, and to be in Heaven is to be a saint. Be my holiness God, because in You I can begin.

Katie Sciba is the author of thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and four children, Liam,Thomas, Peter and Jane.

Catholic Food: Grace in the Kitchen

by Kim Long

It is Eastertide! For the next several weeks we hold life and it holds us in thrall. Flowers are blooming, gardens are tilled and planted, we affirm life – the beat goes on! And while we rejoice and are glad, all of this celebration can be exhausting to the body if not the spirit. While the fatigue is winding me down, I hunger for something nourishing and simple.

One of my hands-down favorite stories of Jesus is found in John 2: The disciples are out fishing when they spot Jesus on the bank. He inquires about their success with the day’s catch, and they give a less than stellar report. Jesus suggests they redirect their nets to the “right” side of the boat. After taking his advice, they can barely haul in the bounty. Then in typical Jesus fashion, he says what they don’t expect: “Come and have some breakfast.”

It’s difficult for me to eat early in the morning, especially if the temperatures are warm! In this passage, however, Jesus is cooking fish, broiling it, and the disciples tuck in and eat up.

In the Holy Land there is a main fish recipe that is offered in most places: St. Peter’s Fish, known to us as tilapia. In Israel, when I ordered this fish, I was not quite prepared when an entire fish appeared before me in quick order. But, like the disciples, our group “tucked in” and ate. It was delicious.

The thought of preparing an entire fish intimidates me! Fillets, on the other hand, are manageable. The scripture also tells us Jesus cooked bread, so I pulled out the recipe for matzah, the simplest of bread recipes. That, cooked along with my step daughter’s recipe for tilapia pockets, fortifies myself and those around me.

I want to arrive at the ancient and powerful celebration of Pentecost with more than a “thank heavens we are back to ordinary time” attitude. I want to arrive there intact physically and spiritually ready to greet, embrace and join our heritage; I want to arrive affirming life! In my mind’s eye, I see Jesus bent over a flame surrounded by large rocks he found on the shores of that lake, the breeze blowing his hair and robe, the smell of bread wafting along with his voice, gentle, loving, strong, calling his friends to another eucharistic moment. For once, breakfast seems more than happy, it is grace.  I realize as I bring this simple meal to my family I am indeed filled with grace, with life.

Matzah

Ingredients:
• 2 ¼ cups plain flour
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon oil
• ½ teaspoon salt

Directions:
1) Place flour, oil and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine.
2) Slowly add water until a ball
forms (you may not use the entire cup).
3) When ball is formed, turn onto a floured board and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
4) Divide into eight balls. Roll as thin as possible. A pasta roller works great!
5) Cut into small pieces and prick with a fork. Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 90 seconds, until crackers begin to brown and blisters form, then flip and cook another 15 to 30 seconds. One batch of dough will yield many crackers.

Tilapia Pockets

Ingredients:
• Cube 1 medium potato (per serving)
• Diced ½ red onion (per serving)
• ½ stick butter
• 1 bay leaf (per serving)
*  1 fillet of Tilapia (per serving)
•  Lemon pepper, and/ or salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Rinse tilapia pieces in cold water. Bake on foil for 5 to 8 minutes at 500 degrees, until fish flakes and edges are beginning to brown.
2) Add veg and spices and close foil packets.
3) Continue to cook at 400 degrees for another three minutes.