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Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

by Lucy Medvec Who will you help today? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

by Bishop Michael G. Duca For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the More »

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26th Annual Red Mass Set for May 4 at Holy Trinity

by Jessica Rinaudo & Richard Hiller The Red Mass, which takes place annually at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in May of each year, has become a fixture in the Diocese of Shreveport. More »

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Author and EWTN TV Show Host to Give “Feeding Your Family’s Soul” Workshop in Shreveport

I sat down with Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle, author of Feeding Your Family’s Soul, to talk to her about her book and upcoming workshop in Shreveport on April 28.  Q: What inspired this idea More »

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Loyola Students Memorialize Florida School Shooting Victims

by Lisa Cooper In the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting on Ash Wednesday, Loyola students found themselves hurting and desired a way to honor those who were killed. The art More »

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Domestic Church: Facing Fear and Difficulty

by Katie Sciba I had over 20 tabs open online, all of them for rentals within a 50 mile radius. We needed a three-bedroom house for the seven of us, that would More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Good Catholic, Bad Catholic

by Mike Van Vranken There is an interesting story where an official asked Jesus: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18. Jesus peculiarly responds: “Why do you More »

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The Shroud of Turin: Cathedral to Host Nationally Known Shroud Speaker, Replica Display & Shroud of Turin Podcast Series

by Jessica Rinaudo The Shroud of Turin has long been a source of fascination. The burial shroud of a man who many believe was Jesus Christ has both inspired the faithful around More »

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Fr. David T. Richter’s Legacy to Continue Through Memorial Fund

by Diane Libro Fr. David T. Richter served the Diocese of Shreveport for 29 years with a quiet but fierce passion for God and the Church. Three years after his unexpected death More »

Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

0418charities1

by Lucy Medvec

Who will you help today?

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we do not know. This simple directive is the guiding principle for the employees and volunteers of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s Monroe office as they work hard each day to help those who are most in need.

Since opening its doors in May 2016, the staff and volunteers in Monroe have worked with hundreds of individuals to provide financial education, tangible assistance for rent and utilities, donations of food and clothing, and most importantly, a sense of compassion. Their daily efforts align with CCNLA’s overall vision of working together to invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.

Located across the street from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, the CCNLA office is off the beaten path from businesses and other nonprofit agencies, but in the past year it has made its presence known in the community. In fact, when the Louisiana 2-1-1 call center released its latest report, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana had more referrals than any other agency in the region.

Catholic Charities is one of many organizations in Northeast Louisiana that provides assistance with rent or utility payments, but it is the only nonprofit that requires an education component in order for clients to receive assistance. That important component comes from The Money School, CCNLA’s weekly class that offers financial education on money management, budgeting, expense tracking and more. The class is taught by Program Coordinator Joann Worley, who then meets with each client to thoroughly assess their financial situation. The concept of The Money School was slow to catch on in Monroe; for the first month of operation attendance was sparse.  That quickly changed as class attendance is now at full capacity (15 clients/students each week).

Other programs offered in the Monroe office include Gabriel’s Corner (offering baby necessities and clothing to parents of small children), food pantry and Gentleman’s Rack and Ladies’ Career Clothes (providing adult clothing for job interviews). CCNLA also offers immigration legal services and seminars to Northeast Louisiana through monthly visits from the Shreveport immigration staff. The work of the immigration staff helps reach clients in rural areas who previously had to travel to Jackson or New Orleans for assistance.

All of this work is done with limited resources and time. For as many clients that seek assistance from CCNLA, three times as many are turned away because of limited funds. Currently, the Monroe office is open three days a week with a part-time staff consisting of Worley and two office assistants, Marilyn Landry and Brenda Taylor, splitting one part-time position. Volunteers are also crucial to the operation of this office, which sees in excess of 30 clients each week. Whether a client is coming for rental or utility assistance, clothing, food or other help, the Monroe staff is able to provide aid through CCNLA’s resources or refer them to another local agency.

How can the Monroe community support Catholic Charities in its role as Good Samaritan? The biggest need is financial resources. The current financial assistance budget is $12,000 per year – a small amount considering the number of emergency requests the office receives each week. Volunteers and donations of clothing and food are always appreciated, but in order to take the next step of becoming a full-time social services agency in Northeast Louisiana, support from the community must rise to a level that can meet the need.

As the Monroe office nears its two year anniversary, it reaches a crossroad for its future in Northeast Louisiana. Donations from the community have grown over the past two years, but not in relation to the amount of financial need that is requested. CCNLA’s first major fundraiser, “Bingo on the Delta,” will be held this month in West Monroe. Already a sold-out success its previous two years in Shreveport, the bingo fundraiser is a casual evening of dinner and bingo, with local priests and nuns serving as the bingo callers. Staff members look forward to members of the Eastern Deanery embracing this event and making it successful for years to come.

Since its founding in 2010, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana continues to help those who have been passed by or overlooked in our community. As an important charitable partner of the Diocese of Shreveport, CCNLA will continue to show mercy and be the Good Samaritan of North Louisiana.

Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

0418bishop

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” 2Tim. 4:6-8

Do you remember the movie, The Bucket List? The movie is about two terminally ill men who meet in a hospital room and decide to try and empty their “bucket lists” – their lists of all the things they want to do before they die, before they “kick the bucket.” Luckily, one of the men is a millionaire and they set out to do as much as they can before they die.

And while we might all have these kinds of lists and hopes, I am certain that a bucket list is not a big enough goal for us as Christians who believe in and stand in the light of the Resurrection of Christ. Just a few days ago, on the first day of this month (no foolin’), we celebrated Easter Sunday and proclaimed with faith-filled voices, “The Lord is Risen.” With this proclamation, we confessed our faith: that our lives do not end with the death of our physical bodies, but rather are reborn to an eternal life. So if this is our faith, then the motivating principle of our lives should not be “to do as much as we can before we die,” but rather we should say, “I want to do as much as I can to be ready for Eternal Life, to be ready to enter the heavenly kingdom where every tear is wiped away and I will never die again.”

This is actually a more positive and freeing way to look at life. First, we avoid the constant feeling of frustration because of the things we never got to do. We also avoid the constant sadness resulting from death approaching and robbing us of opportunity and freedom. We stop looking at death as this inevitable thief and see it though the eyes of faith as the path to our own Resurrection.

When we are focused on getting ready for our Resurrection, we do not stop living but we may live differently and live, in fact, more intentionally and integrally. Here are two attitudes that may be changed by seeing the ending of this life as the beginning of eternal life.

Sacrificial love takes on a new, positive meaning in our lives. To love sacrificially means that we need to give our limited time, energy, and maybe even treasure, to help someone we love or live up to the demands of our commitments of love. This can be hard to do if we see our time as “running out,” or that we are losing time before we die to do what we want. But if we see our life with an eternal plan, we are able to see that love is the way we get ready for eternal life, that there will be a reward for this act of love maybe in this life (and there often is), but certainly we will be rewarded in the joy of eternal life.

Living more simply, we know, allows us time and energy to be freer to concentrate on relationships of love with family, spouse, children and friends. It allows us to deepen our relationship with God and to make time for those who need our help. If we are preparing for the next life, we will tend to live more simply, choosing to lighten our load as we age instead of accumulating as though we will live forever. We will put our time and effort into the heavenly treasure we can take with us, and this lasting treasure is always gifted to us through love.

I do not want to sound like we should be happy to die, but rather I am suggesting a deeper spiritual orientation. If we are living to only empty our bucket list, then it seems like we are always running from death, even to the point of desperately trying to hold on to our youth, our stuff and our money in order to stave off death and live like we will never die. We should not live our lives as though we are running from the pursuing Death, but rather let us always be running toward Eternal Life. If we run this “good race,” as Saint Paul calls our life of faith, then we know we will pass through death, but that is not our goal and it will not slow us down. This allows us to live not in fear, but rather in HOPE. Death is not the end, but the portal, the gate to our salvation. That is the positive goal that should motivate our lives and be animated by our faith in Jesus Christ, who showed us the way when He arose from the dead. The more we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, the more we are free to live in the freedom and joy that comes from hope in Life Eternal.

Confirmation Retreat

The Confirmation Class from St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport joined students from the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for a retreat at The Pines Camp in preparation for their upcoming Confirmations.

Black History Month Celebration at Sacred Heart in Shreveport

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shreveport celebrated Black History Month with a special program honoring Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. on Sunday, February 25, at 2:00 p.m. The program included Music from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Crosby Family singers and Shachiri Henderson. Will Parker shared the story of Dr. King along with the “I have a Dream” speech. A special presentation honored Isaac Palmer for his many accomplishments and as the first African American CEO of Christus Health System of North Louisiana.

PSR Prayer Charts at St. Pius X

St. Pius X Parish begins every year in Parish School of Religion (PSR) with a  prayer chart. The chart has all the prayers listed at the top by grade. On the side of the chart it has the children’s names listed by age. Every time a child recites a prayer to their teacher, they get to place a star by their name under that prayer. Every year they have to start over, reciting again all the previous year’s required prayers, too. Once they have all their stars, they receive a certificate and a coupon. This is something our SPX children look forward to and work hard on every year. Congratulations to the first round winners! They received their certificates during Mass !

Taste of St. Paschal

The St. Paschal Junior High Youth recently served drinks to the parishioners during the Taste of St. Paschal. This annual potluck meal features favorite ethnic dishes from the parishioners.

Youth Raise Funds for Pregnancy Center

St. Jude Youth participated in distributing baby bottles to be filled with change in support of The Care Pregnancy Center.

Youth Learn About Seder Meal

On February 25, members of St. John the Baptist Parish attended the Faith, Food and Fun Youth Seder Meal coordinated by Yvonne Busby, Jean Rains and Angelique Mitchell. All enjoyed the experience of the Passover Seder.

Ashes at St. Francis Medical Center

Ashes were distributed on Ash Wednesday following Mass at St. Francis Chapel. Fr. James Dominic and Fr. Philip Theempalangattu also distributed ashes to patients and team members at St. Francis Medical Center. Pictured: Fr. James Dominic places ashes on Sr. Mary Ann Sepulvado.

PSR Provides for Nursing Home

The residents of St. Josephs Nursing Home were paid a visit by the St. Matthew PSR classes. Residents received sweet treats and goodie bags filled with socks and handkerchiefs, purchased with money raised by the students through their “Soup for Socks” fundraiser.