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Meet Our New Seminarians!

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor The Diocese of Shreveport has seen a boom in men entering seminary over the past five years, and this year is no exception. It is with great joy More »

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Celebrate Pope Francis’ Visit in Local Churches and at Home

The Diocese of Shreveport is excited about Pope Francis visiting the United States, and while we cannot all go to Philadelphia to see the Pope in person, there are many things we More »

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Jubilee Year Holy Doors

by Dianne Rachal On March 13 Pope Francis marked the second anniversary of his pontificate by announcing an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy. The Holy Year will open on December More »

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SVdP Hosts Two Events in the East to Help the Poor

by Randy Smith Many of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conferences in Northeast Louisiana are preparing for two special events in September: the Annual Poor Man’s Supper which benefits the More »

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Society of St. Vincent de Paul to Host First Western Deanery Banquet

by Brian Burgess The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is committed to offering person-to-person service to the poor and those in need across the Diocese of Shreveport. We are blessed More »

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Vocations View: Witness to Mercy: The Life of a New Priest

by Fr. Jerry Daigle, Jr. Months have passed since my priestly ordination and people still tell me how deeply that experience affected them. I know of several who found in that gathering More »

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Navigating the Faith: Habemus Papam – We Have a Pope!

by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General I am writing this article to help with your preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States of America for the World Synod on Families.  More »

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Domestic Church: The Pope at Home

by Katie Sciba Catholicism is a faith of remarkable depth. From our knowledge of and love for Jesus, innumerable teachings emerge all directing us to eternal life with God. This world is More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Embracing the Mission: Beginning Parish Visits

by Bishop Michael Duca Even though you might deny it in August, there is no denying in September (maybe not officially but certainly according to my schedule) that summer is over. I More »

Meet Our New Seminarians!

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by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

The Diocese of Shreveport has seen a boom in men entering seminary over the past five years, and this year is no exception. It is with great joy that we welcome six men entering seminary for our diocese this year, joining ranks with the four who are already in school now, to bring our total up to 10 men. Two of those new young men are currently attending seminary in Mexico, but the other four are attending seminary at St. Joseph College Seminary and Notre Dame Seminary in south Louisiana.

I got the chance to sit down and talk with four of our new seminarians and learn a little bit about their calls to the priesthood. And while each of these men comes from different backgrounds and varied life experiences, the heart of their vocational draw has been the same: that feeling of “something missing,” of God telling them to consider a life of service to His people.

Fidel Mondragon

Fidel Mandragon, a native of Mexico, has been a welcome addition to our seminarian pool, especially as the Diocese of Shreveport experiences a rise in our number of Hispanic Catholics. Meeting their needs is key to helping them sustain their Catholic faith.

Fidel’s journey to becoming a seminarian has been a long and winding one. Raised the son of a farming family in Mexico, Fidel’s parents put great stock in their family’s Catholic faith, saying the Rosary together every night. Just making it to Mass was difficult for the family who owned no automobile, so together they would make the one hour trek to the nearest church either on horse or on foot. Fidel would sit on the floor of the church, directly in front of the priest with the other children. “Since I was a little child, I felt I wanted to be a priest, since I was 11 or 12 years old, before I finished my elementary school,” said Fidel. “When I went to Mass with my mom, I saw the priest celebrating the Mass and I said, ‘When I grow up and get older, I want to be a priest.’”

The vocational seed was firmly planted in Fidel’s heart from that time on. After completing high school, Fidel still felt called to be a priest, so he visited the seminary for a week of discernment. He spoke with the rector, but had misgivings about leaving home for the first time. In what would become a trend throughout his vocational journey, Fidel decided to give it “one more year,” and work with his father on the farm.

One more year spiraled out again as, at age 18, Fidel’s brother offered him the opportunity to join him in living in the United States for a short while. He moved in with his brother and his new sister-in-law in Dallas, where he worked for Pilgrim’s Pride. One year fell away and quickly turned into nine years.

Fidel, who was actively involved in his Catholic parish’s youth group in Dallas, had girlfriends and eventually began to wonder if his vocational call was to marriage and family. He was confused though, as he still felt like something was missing in his heart.

When he was 27, he spoke with two nuns about his dilemma and they told him that once he was married and had taken on that sacrament and started a family, there was no going back, but that he could spend a year at seminary in discernment and leave if that was truly not for him. That way, they told him, if he did get married and start a family, he would not have any doubts or misgivings about what might have been.

Fidel followed their advice. He met with the Piaris Fathers, a religious order in Chicago. After a weeklong vocational retreat with them in Miami, he applied to pursue priesthood through their religious order and he was accepted.  Over the next two years, Fidel attended seminary in Miami and Mexico. He continued his education in Puerto Rico with the Piaris Fathers.

During his studies he observed that the Piaris Fathers primarily worked in the classrooms teaching, a worthy vocation, but not one that spoke to Fidel. “When I was in the classrooms, I wanted to be a diocesan seminarian. I talked to my spiritual director… I said, Father, it is very good the work that you do, that you all do, but I want to be a diocesan priest.”

Fidel spoke to his superior, who was very supportive, but asked Fidel to stay with the order one year more. He told him that after a year, if he still wanted to become a diocesan priest, he would assist him in making the transition. Fidel agreed, but after a year he still desired to be a diocesan priest for his diocese in Mexico to be near his family.

But the Lord had other plans for Fidel. A priest, and later Vocations Director, from the Diocese of Dallas, convinced Fidel that priests were needed in the United States to assist the growing Catholic Mexican population there.

“Don’t be in the place that you want to be,” the priest told him, “You be in the place that the people need you.” Fidel agreed to join the Diocese of Dallas for one year to see if he was a good fit. The Diocese of Dallas ended up supporting him for four years while he attended seminary in Mexico. After completing his fourth year, Dallas made many changes in their vocational program and decided to no longer support seminarians in other countries.

With the help of the seminary rector in Mexico, Fidel began to seek another diocese to join while the rector and seminary financially supported his continued education. They looked at several dioceses, but Fidel knew Fr. Rogelio Alcantara who teaches at the seminary and often visits the Diocese of Shreveport. Fr. Rogelio made introductions for Fidel with the Diocese of Shreveport, and Fr. Matthew Long traveled to visit the seminary in Mexico to meet Fidel. Together, and with permission from Bishop Duca, they agreed that Fidel would become a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Fidel finished his seminarian studies on May 3, and obtained his student visa June 2 to travel to Shreveport. He began attending Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans in August as he prepares to be ordained for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Jeb Key

Another transplant to the Diocese of Shreveport is new seminarian Jeb Key. Jeb grew up in Mansfield, TX. In his youth, Jeb was very active in his church and served as an altar server, Eucharistic Minister and lector and participated in his Youth Ministry program.

“My childhood priest who I received first Communion and First Confession from was absolutely wonderful. His name was Fr. George Foley and he was actually the first person to ever say to me, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about being a priest?’” said Jeb. He added, “The priesthood was never something I could say, ‘Absolutely not, that is something I have no interest in doing,’” and so that thought was always in the back of his mind.

During his Sophomore year of high school, Jeb and his family moved to Many, LA, where he attended St. John the Baptist Parish, until his move to the University of Louisiana in Lafayette where Jeb began to pursue his nursing degree.

It was during college that Jeb’s call to seminary began to take shape. In December 2014, Jeb attended Mass and was very stressed about his impending finals. “I said, you know God, I don’t know what you want for my life, but I’m having some trouble, maybe you could give me a nudge in the right direction.”

During the Mass, the Gospel reading was Jesus calling the disciples to follow him and be fishers of men. “The priest then did his homily on the six reasons men say no to the priesthood and why those reasons aren’t really reasons at all. And that if you have a call to the priesthood, you need to stop ignoring it,” said Jeb.

Two months later, around the beginning of Lent, Jeb again went to Mass with a prayerful heart. “I said, alright, well, I guess you’ve already told me you want me to be a priest,” said Jeb, “but, maybe you could give me just one more push in the right direction, just to make sure.”

The Gospel reading was the Transfiguration and the homily was on God’s mercy and how it can help with anything. “And then, just as a little side note at the end, the priest said, ‘This can apply to anybody who feels like they might have a call to the priesthood. If you feel like God’s calling you to the priesthood, let’s get on with it,” he said.

That day, Jeb met with a priest who directed him to a discernment group of about 10-12 men who were in various stages of discerning their vocational paths. Together they would study a book with Fr. Broussard, a newly ordained priest in Lafayette, and ask any and all questions pertaining to the Church and priesthood. Together they read To Save a Thousand Souls, a book about discerning a priestly vocation.  “Reading that book gave me step by step of exactly what I should be doing and what I was feeling,” said Jeb.

A month or two after joining the group, Jeb decided to meet with Vocations Director, Fr. Matthew Long. Jeb worried because he had not been discerning his call for long. During his drive to visit with Fr. Long, he prayed for God to tell the priest what he needed to do, and he committed to doing it.
After Jeb shared his story, Fr. Long responded by saying, “Well, God is telling me to give you an application.” And from that moment on, Jeb has followed the path God has been leading him down.

“It’s really been amazing. As soon as I accepted that this is where I needed to be and this was who God was calling me to be, everything’s been really great,” said Jeb. “I just have this peace about me. Not that I’m not nervous anymore, it’s just easier to accept.”

He added, “My parents have always been really supportive. My mom said, ‘This is always kind of where I’ve seen your life going, but I never wanted to pressure you one way or another. Because whatever you want to do is fine with us as long as you’re happy.’”

Jeb began attending St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, LA in August.

Raney Johnson

Raney Johnson is a native to Shreveport who grew up attending Our Lady of the Blessed Church and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Academy.

Raney’s childhood priest left a strong and positive impression on him. “Fr. Andre McGrath, probably from the time I was at Blessed Sacrament School until high school, he was always giving talks on vocations, talks that inspired me,” said Raney. “I never told him I wanted to join [the priesthood], but his talks really helped me out. I always felt like he was talking right to me… He was really inspirational to me, his life and how he lived and everything.”

Catholic school played another large role in Raney’s faith journey. “Being in Catholic school and going to Mass every Friday, being able to go to religion classes and openly talk about faith really helped out and formed me so that when I went to public school in high school, I had this religious background and spiritual upbringing where I didn’t feel out of place all the time,” he said. Catholic school was also where Raney first considered priesthood. “I first heard the call when I was in middle school, probably seventh grade,” he said. “One of the sisters of the Holy Family, Sr. Franscella, asked me if I ever considered [priesthood]. That was the first time I really started to think about it.”

That question took root in his mind and Raney began to pray about a vocation to the priesthood. “I waited until my confirmation to really look into it. My confirmation was May of my Freshman year. After that I used a website called Vision that matches you with vocations and different religious orders,” he said. “I considered becoming a religious order priest and it matched me with the Franciscans and the Salesians. Up until my senior year I was talking with the Salesians and really considered joining them after high school.”

“I would always tell my parents I wanted to be a priest,” said Raney. “My parents were always really supportive of me. They were helpful in me figuring out what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go.”

Despite his initial conversations with the Salesian brothers, Raney felt like that wasn’t where he was meant to be, and so he began his studies at Louisiana Tech in journalism and put his vocational call on hold for a while. But beginning with his Sophomore year of college, Raney again began to consider this call again much more strongly. That was when he got in touch with Vocations Director Fr. Long and they began an ongoing conversation. He also began to speak with Brother Mike Ward, who is the Catholic chaplain at Louisiana Tech, and got involved with the Catholic program there, all of which inspired his faith.

His conversations with Fr. Long came to fruition upon his graduation from Louisiana Tech this past summer as he applied and was accepted to seminary. Raney began his vocational journey at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans this past August.

Kelby Tingle

My first thought of priesthood was in eighth grade,” said Kelby. “I remember being at Fr. Charles’ [Glorioso] reception of his anniversary to the priesthood. That was the first time that I thought married life wasn’t the only thing. There’s something else, something more.”

In an act of divine providence, said Kelby, Fr. Charles was moved to St. Joseph Church in Shreveport from St. Pius X, where Kelby’s family attended. “We went to visit Fr. Charles one day at St. Joseph, and they were having an open house for the school. We walked around and I ended up shadowing the school with my little sister and we immediately fell in love with it.”

“There was always something missing in the school I was in, it was public school,” added Kelby. “I didn’t like that bringing up prayer wasn’t allowed.”

He began attending St. Joseph School in sixth grade, where Kelby says, it felt like home. He got to know Fr. Karl Daigle, pastor at the time. “I could see myself being God’s humble instrument through the sacraments. Seeing Fr. Karl, I could see myself in his place.”

Kelby continued his Catholic education at Loyola College Prep. During his Freshman year, he spoke with Vocations Director Fr. Long and met with a small group of young men at Loyola who had interest in joining the priesthood.

He also began altar serving at the Cathedral’s Wednesday Mass. There he got to know Cathedral rector, Fr. Peter Mangum. During his Sophomore year of high school, Kelby began to work for the Cathedral on a more regular basis. Fr. Peter’s presence in Kelby’s life had a strong impact on his faith and vocational call. “He really inspired growth in me and acted as my spiritual director,” said Kelby.

“During Lent we have stations of the cross, every Friday at 5:30. Loyola dismissed at two, and at 2:00 I would leave Loyola and go over to the Cathedral for the gap between school and Stations of the Cross. I would work with Fr. Peter, and hang out with him and talk with him and watch what he does. And then I would serve at Stations of the Cross,” he said.

He continued his work at the Cathedral throughout high school.

This past summer, Fr. Peter encouraged Kelby to join a pilgrimage trip to Rome. There he visited the major basilicas and got to altar serve at St. Peter’s Basilica for five days in a row. They also traveled to St. John Berchmans’ tomb, visited the monks and their monastery there, traveled to where St. Benedict was born and saw many other Catholic religious sites. Kelby was impressed by how much the Catholic church is a part of the Italian landscape, and this trip stoked the flames of his vocational call.
Kelby was excited to begin attending St. Joseph College Seminary in Covington in August. Of seminary, Kelby said, “I’m definitely looking forward to structured prayer, the community of guys hearing the same call as me.”

2015-2016 Diocese of Shreveport Seminarians

Download and print a list of this year’s Diocese of Shreveport Seminarians. Please send them cards and letters of encouragement throughout the year!

ACTS: Being Catholic at Louisiana Tech

Thanks to the amiable relationship the Campus Ministries who serve the students of Louisiana Tech have with the University, ACTS (Association of Catholic Tech Students), the Campus Ministry Program at St. Thomas Parish in Ruston, and the other LaTech Campus Ministries are invited to participate in the four summer orientation sessions LaTech sponsors for incoming freshmen. With an eye on increasing enrollment, LaTech’s Admission Director, Andy Cline, comments that this year’s orientations broke all of Tech’s attendance records.

Over a four-day period, members of the Class of 2019 and their parents were formally introduced to the University and all it has to offer. On Wednesday evenings, new students and their parents were invited to share an evening together in downtown Ruston. At this time, the Campus Ministers were introduced making it known that one’s faith life is an important aspect of one’s college experience.

On Thursdays, all of Tech’s organizational groups were invited to set up a booth on the quad to meet the incoming freshmen and their parents. CTS always sends student representatives to this event to ensure that new students are aware there ARE Catholics in Ruston and that St. Thomas Aquinas Parish cares about them. As a result, ACTS was able to obtain the names and contact information for 150 students who are interested in “Being Catholic at Tech” in some fashion.

With the support of the resident parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, ACTS is able to create an environment where those attending LaTech are able to live out their Catholic faith within a traditionally non-Catholic population.   ACTS offers quarterly retreats, weekend socials, Eucharistic Adoration, “student-led Masses,” spiritual direction, mission opportunities, sports options and a very popular “Dollar Lunch” on Wednesdays.  Yes! There ARE Catholics at TECH and yes,  “Being Catholic at Tech” is encouraged and supported thanks to the resident parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas and the friendly relationship maintained with LaTech University.

Courtney Smith (far left) joins the ACTS Leadership Team for the fourth Summer Orientation Session at Tech. Next to Courtney are the eight  members of the ACTS Leadership Team for 2015-16: Kristen Chatelain, Zoe Martinez, Adam Ramachandran, Andrew Serio, Jordan Whaley, Charles Flanders and Roy Messina.

– Brother Mike Ward

Celebrate Pope Francis’ Visit in Local Churches and at Home

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The Diocese of Shreveport is excited about Pope Francis visiting the United States, and while we cannot all go to Philadelphia to see the Pope in person, there are many things we can do at home to be part of the celebration.

Diocesan family life representatives Carol Gates and Dotye Sue Stanford will be attending the event and blogging their experience along the way to help north Louisiana Catholics stay informed and take part in the pope’s visit. The blog has been set up and you can visit and read it at https://shreveportcatholicfamilies.wordpress.com, or access it through the diocesan website: www.dioshpt.org.

Several parishes are also getting involved in the pope’s visit and invite you to join them in celebrating.

Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Monroe will have a special event on September 27 in conjunction with the papal Mass. Catholics will gather at 3:00 pm at the Our Lady of Fatima School Gymnasium to watch the Papal Mass through his homily; once the Offertory begins, they will turn the video off and have a covered-dish, pot-luck dinner.  For more information, contact the church office at 318-325-7595.

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport will highlight the pope’s visit with a two-part series entitled “World Meeting of Families” to be offered during the Sunday Adult Faith Formation hour, and a gathering scheduled for Sunday, September 27 afternoon. Visit the SJB website for more details (www.sjbcathedral.org).

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport is planning to show Pope Francis’ Mass in Philadelphia live on Wednesday, September 27 at 3:00 p.m. in the church with a reception afterwards in Gabriel Hall.  Contact the church office for more information 318-635-2121.
Please consider attending one of these events, or watching the Mass on the EWTN channel at home.

– Jessica Rinaudo

Cardinal O’Malley Urges Support for Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON—Federal funds should be reallocated so women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, said in an August 3 letter to the U.S. Senate. Cardinal O’Malley, who chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged support for S. 1881, which would withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.

The full text of his letter follows and is available online: http://bit.ly/defundpp832015.

Dear Senator:
I am writing to ask your support for S. 1881, to withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates.
It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation’s largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year. This concern has rightly grown in recent years.

The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more “intact” organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans.

The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Our hospitals and other health facilities are second to none in providing quality health care for women.
We support the legislative proposal to reallocate federal funding, so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion. It is my sincere hope that you will be able to help advance this goal by supporting S. 1881.

Program of the Pope’s Trip the United States

The pope will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday September 19 and is expected to arrive in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. He will remain there until Tuesday, September 22. September 22, will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago. The pope will then meet families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion in Santiago and, after blessing the city, will depart by air for Washington D.C., U.S.A., where he will be received at Andrews Air Force Base.

On Wednesday, September 23, there will be a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, where the pope will pronounce a discourse and pay a courtesy visit to the President of the United States. At 11 a.m., the pope will meet with the bishops of the United States in St. Matthew’s Cathedral. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass for the canonization of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra.

On Thursday, September 24, Pope Francis will visit and address the United States Congress. He will subsequently visit the charity centre of the St. Patrick Parish where he will meet a group of homeless people. In the afternoon he will transfer by air to New York, where at 6.45 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with priests and men and women religious in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Friday, September 25, will begin with an address by the Holy Father at the seat of the United Nations in New York and, at 11.30 a.m., he will participate in an interreligious meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial site. He will then visit the “Our Lady, Queen of Angels” School and meet with families of immigrants in Harlem. The day will conclude with Holy Mass in Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday, September 26, the pope will travel by air to Philadelphia, where at 10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass with the bishops, clergy and men and women religious in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. In the afternoon he will participate in a meeting for religious freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in the Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

Sunday, September 27, will begin with a meeting with the bishops invited to the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, after which the pope will visit the detainees in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia. He will go on to celebrate the concluding Holy Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In the late afternoon, he will depart on his return flight to Rome.

Archbishop Wenski Welcomes New Carbon Pollution Standards

WASHINGTON—“A new national standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants is an important step forward to protect the health of all people, especially children, the elderly, and poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution and the impacts of climate change,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement of a new final rule limiting carbon pollution, August 3.

Recently finalized carbon pollution standards will reduce carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. Archbishop Wenski is chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“The bishops welcome this important move by the administration to adopt long-awaited standards to mitigate climate change and safeguard public health, which are significant ways to live out our responsibility to care for God’s creation,” Archbishop Wenski said.

In a letter urging Congress not to block the new standards, June 24, Archbishop Wenski emphasized the significance of Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’, in which the pope “called on all people to care for God’s creation and our common home for the well-being of current and future generations.” The letter is available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/letter-to-congress-on-carbon-standards-2015-06-24.cfm

September Kids’ Connection: Pope Francis Visiting the U.S.

Pope Francis will visit the United States this month! Download the sheet for ways to celebrate his visit.

 

Jubilee Year Holy Doors

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by Dianne Rachal

On March 13 Pope Francis marked the second anniversary of his pontificate by announcing an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy. The Holy Year will open on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and conclude on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe on November 20, 2016. Pope Francis sealed a Holy Door in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica that will be opened on December 8. “On that day, the Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instills hope” (MV 3). The Rome basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major also have Holy Doors that are opened during jubilee years, and will open on December 13, the Third Sunday of Advent. The only other Holy Doors in the world are at Quebec City’s Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec, the shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France, and at the Cathedral of St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

The designation of a Holy Door may trace back to the ancient Christian practice of public penitence when sinners were given public penances to perform before receiving absolution. The penitents were not allowed to enter a church before completing the penance, but they were solemnly welcomed back in when their penance was fulfilled. Still today Holy Year pilgrims enter the basilica through the Holy Door as a sign of their repentance and re-commitment to a life of faith.

The ritual for opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica goes back to 1499 when Pope Alexander VI opened the door on Christmas Eve to inaugurate the Holy Year 1500. Then the door was wooden. The bronze door panels that stand at St. Peter’s today, made by Vico Consorti, were consecrated and first opened December 24, 1949 by Pope Pius XII in proclamation of the 1950 Jubilee. The theme of human sin and God’s mercy is illustrated in the 16 bronze panels that make up the current door, with episodes from both the Old and New Testament, including the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Annunciation, and the Merciful Father (and Prodigal Son).

For centuries, the doors were opened with a silver hammer, not a key, because the doors of justice and mercy give way only to the force of prayer and penance. Opening the Holy Year 2000, St. John Paul II used neither a hammer, nor a key, but strongly pushed the door open.

Between the panels on the door at St. Peter’s are little shields with the coats of arms of all the popes who opened it during the ordinary Holy Years, the last being St. John Paul II. Pope Francis’ coat of arms will be etched onto one of the empty shields that remain for future jubilee years after he opens and closes the door.

Pope Francis asked that every diocese in the world designate a “Door of Mercy” at their cathedral, “Every Particular Church, therefore, will be directly involved in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal. Thus the Jubilee will be celebrated in Rome and in the Particular Churches as a visible sign of the Church’s universal communion.”  (MV 3)

Bishop Michael Duca sealed our Door of Mercy at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans on August 12 at the Loyola College Prep Mass. This door will remain closed until Bishop Duca opens it on December 13. The Door of Mercy will remain open for the duration of the Holy Year until Bishop Duca closes it on Sunday, November 13, 2016 – the same day that the holy doors will be closed in the basilicas in Rome.

For more information on the Jubilee Year of Mercy go to: http://www.iubilaeummisericordiae.va/content/gdm/en.html. and visit the display in the lobby of the Catholic Center.

Hispanic Priests: A Prayer Answered

by Fr. Matthew Long

We need more priests!” This is the constant refrain I hear wherever I go. In order to have more priests we need more seminarians, which is my primary ministry in the diocese. Therefore, no matter where I am, this refrain is always in the back of my mind.

A primary component of my vocation work is prayer. In 2012, I dedicated my work to the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. In that same year I began praying through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to increase our number of seminarians.  In 2014, I traveled to Washington, D.C. and visited the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. As I moved from altar to altar in the main church, I arrived at the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. There, kneeling before that image, I asked Our Lady to intercede on behalf of the Diocese of Shreveport and increase our number of seminarians.

Thanks be to God, Our Lady has responded. On December 12, 2014, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I talked with Fidel Mondragon for the first time (pg. 14). I then traveled with seminarian Martin Aviles Vazquez to Mexico City in February of 2015 to meet Fidel. While there I also met two other young men who were seeking to answer God’s call to priesthood: Omar Lopez Aguirre and Geovanni Aguirre Hernandez (pg. 18) Together we treked across Mexico City to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There I gazed upon the image given to us by God of His Mother. It was there God answered my prayers for an increase in seminarians through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today we are blessed to have 10 seminarians, four of whom are Hispanic, studying for our diocese.  They will meet a growing need in the Church in North Louisiana. I thank God and His Blessed Mother for this.