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2017 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal: Our Vision, Our Mission

by John Mark Willcox The coming months will see our community of faith again striving to enable the work of Christ within our diocese by supporting our Annual Stewardship Appeal.  A new More »

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Catholic Youth Day Coming March 11!

by Nicky Prevou Middle school and high school youth and their adult leaders are eagerly looking forward to Saturday, March 11. Catholic Youth Day (CYD) 2017 will be held at St. Paschal More »

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God is Calling – Diocese in Search of New Deacon Class

by Deacon Mike Whitehead It has been a little over 11 years since the first Permanent Diaconate formation for the Diocese of Shreveport ordained 18 men in 2005, and three years since More »

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Community Volunteers Give Back to Catholic Charities

by Lucy Medvec As with any non-profit agency, the work and support from volunteers are important to the success of the organization. This is no different with Catholic Charities of North Louisiana. More »

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Bishop Friend’s Book Collection in Slattery Library

by Jessica Rinaudo The Catholic Center’s Slattery Library has recently had a huge boost to its book collection. Upon his passing, Bishop William B. Friend bequeathed his vast collection of literature to More »

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Vocations View: Want to Change a Life? Support Catholic Education

by Lisa Cooper Catholic vocations in all forms, from religious and priestly to living and working faithfully as a layperson all have to start somewhere. Oftentimes that place is in Catholic schools. More »

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Navigating the Faith: St. Blaise & the Blessing of Throats

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship The feast day of St. Blaise is celebrated on February 3 with the unique ritual of blessing the throats of those with throat disorders and anyone More »

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Domestic Church: Prayer Turns Burdens to Blessings

by Katie Sciba Andrew has been waking me early every morning. A little nudge and a “Were you going to pray?” I croak “Mm hmm.” He goes to a corner of our More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Who Do You See?

by Mike Van Vranken If the man in this picture came to our country claiming to be a displaced refugee fleeing persecution, would you vote to allow him to stay?  I read More »

2017 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal: Our Vision, Our Mission

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by John Mark Willcox

The coming months will see our community of faith again striving to enable the work of Christ within our diocese by supporting our Annual Stewardship Appeal.  A new year brings the promise of hope and there is no better time than the season of Lent to choose how we might provide for the needs of others amongst us.

As with each Appeal, significant funds are dedicated to providing for our retired and infirmed clergy, men who have given lives of service to this local Church and who are worthy of our combined care. Our aging Presbyterate means this area of need will always be a part of our Annual Appeal.  Replacing these men with newly ordained priests remains a high priority and your Appeal donations support the cost of educating our 10 seminarians. Our diocese is blessed to have a strong contingent of men in seminary training and this remains our largest Appeal allocation at $300,000 in 2017.

The charitable endeavors of Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Pro-Life Ministry, Campus and Prison ministries still seek the Church’s assistance for people in need.

This past year of intense flooding across our diocese brought out the best in area Catholics, as donations and direct assistance made a difference in the lives of thousands.

Our ever growing and diverse Hispanic Catholics benefit from your Appeal, and our entire diocese will celebrate the ordination of Deacon Fidel Mondragon to the priesthood on June 10, 2017!  His ministry to our diocese will be a true benefit to both English and Spanish speaking Catholics throughout North Louisiana.


Your Appeal has funded recent successes in the ministry of youth and young adults which has put this group of young Catholics on solid footing. This includes the establishment of youth leadership, helping the young people in our community take ownership of their faith. This is crucial for the future of our faith community.

In the ministry of education, your Appeal dollar supports our Office of Catholic Schools and catechesis for our youth and adults in local parishes. Consistent, high quality worship also compliments our lives as Catholic Christians due to Appeal support.

Our wonderful Slattery Library, located on the second floor of the Catholic Center, continues to grow in its resources and materials with Appeal support. Additionally, our Safe Environment Program benefits from this Appeal. And, don’t forget, the very magazine you are reading, The Catholic Connection, has received most of its funding from our Annual Appeal since its inception. It is mailed free of charge to every known Catholic in our diocese and is one of Bishop Duca’s primary ways of communicating with the people of North Louisiana.

“This is an important year for our diocese,” comments Bishop Michael G. Duca.  “Nearly every avenue of our ministry and outreach as a Catholic community is impacted by our Annual Appeal and it is vitally important that we work together to keep the success of our Appeal a priority.  Our people have been so generous over the years and for that I am truly thankful.  My prayer is that more Catholics in our diocese choose to support our Appeal this year as the need is greater than ever.”

Appeal Sunday this year falls on February 26. Please take some time until then to consider your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 30 of this issue, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. You can also give online by visiting, www.dioshpt.org.

Together we can form a vision for our diocese, a mission of walking together in the footsteps of Christ to help those in need, evangelize our community and enrich our children and teenagers in the faith. Together we can enact our vision of having more priests to serve the faithful, allowing them to train and carry out their missions from God. Please consider sharing in our vision, our mission, and take time to pray for the success of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal.

USCCB Releases Written Report and Recommendations On Promoting Peace in Our Communities

from the USCCB

WASHINGTON—The USCCB Special Task Force to Promote Peace in Our Communities has released a written version of the report. The report includes findings and recommendations for bishops to continue the vital work of fostering healing and lasting peace in communities across the U.S. through concrete action, ongoing dialogue and opportunities for encounter. The USCCB Special Task Force to Promote Peace in our Communities can be found at http://www.usccb.org/racism.

As part of its convening, the special Task Force conducted an in-person listening session in October 2016 involving bishops from communities hit hard by violence and unrest. Participants in the listening session highlighted the strong need for candid conversations about the nature of challenges facing communities, while stressing the need for sustained work in order to move toward lasting solutions and healing on matters of race. Beyond the initial listening session, additional interviews were conducted with key individuals including law enforcement officials and a student who demonstrated at Ferguson and North Charleston. A central component of the Task Force’s findings also stresses the significance of prayer as well as ecumenical and interfaith collaborations, along with building solid and unique models of engagement, particularly for at-risk young people. The important role of bishops in helping to convene these conversations is also emphasized in the report.

General recommendations from the report to help promote peace in our communities include prayer, encountering others through local dialogues, parish-based and internal diocesan conversation and training, and fostering opportunities of encounter toward empowering communities to identify and begin to address challenges as a way to begin community healing.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, appointed the Special Task Force in July, 2016 after incidents of violence and racial tension spread throughout communities across the United States.

As part of the convening of the group, a national Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities took place on September 9, 2016. The day of prayer was celebrated on the feast day of St. Peter Claver (1580-1654), a Spanish Jesuit priest who worked tirelessly to care spiritually and materially for Africans who were being sold as slaves.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta and Chair of the special Task Force, initially presented a summary of the findings of the task force at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall General Assembly in November, 2016 in Baltimore.

The Task Force also included numerous bishop consultants whose jurisdictions have experienced extreme violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experience to bear on related questions. A number of lay consultants with relevant expertise also participated. The Task Force has provided additional resources and support at http://www.usccb.org/racism

Kids’ Connection: Saint Blaise

Click to download and print out the Kids’ Connection on Saint Blaise!

Catholic Youth Day Coming March 11!

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by Nicky Prevou

Middle school and high school youth and their adult leaders are eagerly looking forward to Saturday, March 11. Catholic Youth Day (CYD) 2017 will be held at St. Paschal Parish, located at 711 North 7th Street in West Monroe.

The schedule will include opportunities for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Reconciliation, dynamic praise and worship experiences, interactive workshops, fellowship and a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Duca. Hundreds of Catholic youth from  across the diocese are planning to attend the event.

Selah Storm and Nikki Tinnerello, who serve as volunteer youth ministry leaders at St. Paschal Parish, said that they are “thrilled” that their parish will be hosting this year’s fun-filled event.

“We at St. Paschal’s often get together with several of the small area parishes for retreats and other events, so we’re especially excited to have other parishes from other parts of the diocese join us for Catholic Youth Day. We are so happy that we are able to invite everyone to share in the strong foundation of faith that we offer to our Catholic youth,” said Selah.

“It’s always valuable for our young people to gather and share their Catholic faith, to enjoy the camaraderie, the prayerfulness and the excitement of the day,” added Nikki.

Both the youth leaders and their own teenage sons are especially looking forward to hearing this year’s keynote presenter, the internationally recognized Catholic liturgical musician and speaker Jesse Manibusan, whom they have previously seen in concert.

“Jesse will most definitely bring so much to our diocese,” Selah reflected. “He is very high-energy and engaging, but he is also so soulful, tender, and multi-faceted in his ability to share his faith with people of all ages.”

Kevin Prevou, Diocesan Director of  Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said all youth, grades six through 12, and their adult leaders are encouraged to register for the all-day event.

“Our team has been prayerfully preparing for March 11, and we have several hoped-for outcomes, based on the theme for the day, ‘iBelieve’,” said Kevin. “We want our young people to grow in their own sense of Catholic identity and belonging to their Catholic parish and diocesan family. We want them to connect their call to discipleship with the challenge to truly live out their faith, and we are offering an opportunity to grow in their sense of excitement and energy around their relationship with Christ.”

Christian recording artist Dave Fitzgerald will lead participants in praise and worship, and ministry leaders will offer break-out sessions on topics such as “Using Social Networks to Evangelize Others: Do’s and Dont’s”; “Catholic Teachings Every Teen Needs to Know by Heart”; and “Diving Into the Catholic Catechism: Be Not Afraid!”

Other sessions will offer opportunities to make rosaries and to create “Blessing Bags.” Dianne Rachal, diocesan Director of Worship, will lead a session on youth leadership in parishes as lectors, greeters, ushers and altar servers.

Kevin noted that members of the Diocesan Youth Council have helped to prepare the plans for the day, which will include “Interactive Faith Games,” the “My Catholic Faith Contest” and “Stump the Bishop!”

Jean Rains, who serves as the Director of Religious Education for St. John the Baptist Parish in Many, said that participation in CYD is “very important” to the youth of her parish.

“We live in an area that is predominantly non-Catholic,” Jean explained. “Our children find themselves in the position of trying to defend their faith, and that can be uncomfortable. I like for them to see that they are not alone, that they can enjoy learning with other youth of their own faith and develop friendships with kids from other parishes.”

Early registration for CYD 2017 is $30 a person through February 24. Regular registration is $35 per person February 25-March 7, and all registrations after March 7, including at-the-door, are $40. Registration includes entry into all CYD events, breakfast, snacks, lunch and a commemorative t-shirt. For more information or to register, go to www.dioshpt.org/ministries/youth-young-adult-ministry/ and click on the Catholic Youth Day icon, or contact Kevin Prevou at 318-219-7258, or kprevou@dioshpt.org, or Gabby Willis at 318-219-7257, or gwillis@dioshpt.org.

God is Calling – Diocese in Search of New Deacon Class

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by Deacon Mike Whitehead

It has been a little over 11 years since the first Permanent Diaconate formation for the Diocese of Shreveport ordained 18 men in 2005, and three years since 16 more men joined them in 2014. Currently, there are 33 active deacons serving God and the people of this diocese in this ministry.

“Feedback on their service has been very positive and Bishop Duca is asking for more,” said Deacon Clary Nash, Deacon Formation Director.
A third formation for the Permanent Diaconate is scheduled to begin in September and the Diocese of Shreveport is again seeking men who are being called to a life of service. The application and selection process is now under way. If you feel God is calling you to this ministry, now is a great time to formally begin the discernment process, open a dialogue and have your questions and concerns answered.

Deacons can reach out to the Church community in many different ways. They are called to live the Gospel in every way, every day. The function of a deacon is to serve the Church by using their gifts and talents already given them by God for the purpose of service to God in serving God’s people.

Formation is designed to enhance those gifts and prepare these men for a lifetime of service, thereby adding a quality of life for them, our Church and surrounding communities. One of the roles of a deacon is to increase the involvement of the laity by support and guidance.

St. Pope John Paul II said, “The deacon’s tasks include that of promoting and sustaining the apostolic activities of the laity. To the extent he is more present and more involved than the priest in secular environments and structures, in common service to the kingdom of God.”

The deacons of Shreveport have answered the call to service. They help make Christ more relevant, human and understood in the world. They give witness to Christian values in the marketplace as ordained ministers. Deacons are called to leadership, to find ways to promote justice and charity and support Christian values in the world, in the name of the Catholic Church.

“As a deacon for over 30 years for the Diocese of Shreveport, God has blessed me abundantly in every day of my service,” Deacon Nash said. “It has been my honor to be the director of their formations.”

Since the institution of diaconate formation in the Diocese of Shreveport, the people of God have experienced a surge of energy, evangelization, inspiration and outreach to those in need.

“One of my cherished memories is of Deacon Sonny Daigle, who with terminal cancer, had a special ministry and love to those incarcerated,” Deacon Nash said. “His frequent visits included scripture study, personal examples, encouragement and his sincere concern and love for God and all God’s people. As a result, several men had life-changing experiences, converted and were confirmed into the Catholic Church. Their new-found faith upholds, sustains and now inspires others during this period of their life. With Deacon Sonny gone now, who will take his place?  God is calling.”

To learn more about the role of a deacon in your parish, please contact Deacon Clary Nash at 318-868-4441, or by email at cnash@dioshpt.org. The deadline for inquiries into the diaconate program is Monday, April 3, 2017.   •

Community Volunteers Give Back to Catholic Charities

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by Lucy Medvec

As with any non-profit agency, the work and support from volunteers are important to the success of the organization. This is no different with Catholic Charities of North Louisiana. Since its inception in 2010, CCNLA has been blessed with a core of volunteers that assist with many of the organization’s programs on a daily basis.

GABRIEL’S CLOSET
Gabriel’s Closet opened in June 2012 as a volunteer-run “boutique” where low-income new parents could get new and gently-used items needed to care for their infants. Working with these families, our volunteers quickly began identifying other issues that needed to be addressed such as parenting skills and nutrition.  They began including a child’s book with each distribution and encouraging the parents to read out loud to their children. Today, CCNLA offers parenting classes taught by volunteer OB-GYN nurses twice each week. Class topics include well-baby care, infant CPR and first aid, nutrition, dental care and parenting skills. In addition to working one-on-one with parents, Gabriel’s Closet also has volunteers from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church that come once a week to sort the many items that are donated from the community.  Our Gabriel’s Closet volunteers worked extra hard this past fall when their storage space underwent a major renovation and items had to be packed up, stored and then moved back into the former sanctuary.

COMMUNITY GARDEN
The community garden is part of CCNLA’s Healthy Eating on a Budget Initiative in order to provide food and gardening experience to our clients. The garden has been tended to periodically by community volunteers, including those from United Way’s annual “Day of Caring.”  Employees from Edge Office Products weeded the garden last March in order to prepare it for spring planting, but a very rainy season eventually turned the garden into an overgrown jungle.  One day last fall, Earl O’Kee contacted CCNLA looking for an opportunity to give back to his community.  After many weeks of hard work, Mr. O’Kee reclaimed the community garden and planted vegetables to be harvested in the coming months.  His hard work and love of the outdoors revitalized the garden plots and he looks forward to planting even more vegetables and herbs this spring.

MEDICAL SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP
In September 2016, CCNLA entered into a partnership with the LSU Health Shreveport School of Medicine and their FACTTS (Fourth-year Academic Clinical Training and Teaching Selective) program. Every month during the school year, medical students select a community organization in which they will serve eight volunteer hours.  CCNLA is one of the selected organizations and has provided volunteer opportunities in each of its programs to fourth-year students before they move on to residency programs.  This Service Learning Activity program gives students the opportunity to learn more about social agencies in our community and how they are helping the underserved.

Catholic Charities is always looking for volunteers. Hours and opportunities are flexible and there are many ways to get involved.  Other areas include teaching one of our many classes (financial education, nutrition, parenting or English as a Second Language) or providing basic office assistance.  For more information about becoming a volunteer, please contact Lucy Medvec at lmedvec@ccnla.org or (318) 865-0200 ext. 101.

Bishop Friend’s Book Collection in Slattery Library

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The Catholic Center’s Slattery Library has recently had a huge boost to its book collection. Upon his passing, Bishop William B. Friend bequeathed his vast collection of literature to the diocesan library.

Sue Vernia, who served as Bishop Friend’s first secretary, is now the librarian of Slattery Library. She had the task of sorting through and organizing his vast collection of over 1,800 books, which included identifying and labeling their Dewey Decimal numbers with bright green tags so that they are easily identifiable on the shelves of the library.

“I look out into the library, and I can see those green tags. His books are on every row,” said Sue.

Patrons to the library can browse through Bishop Friend’s collection and quickly see that his reading was broad and varied. “It’s amazing his wide scope of interests. There’s a shelf out there that’s almost full of books on leadership and things on the future society. It’s not just religious tracks. He was into a lot of things,” said Sue. “He was curious.”

“We have some that are just reference books and stay in the library, but most of them can be checked out for two weeks,” said Sue.
Lucky library patrons may even stumble upon one of Bishop Friend’s books that he read heavily. Those volumes are laced with his own notations, underlines and scrawled notes. Most of those heavily read and examined books are from a time before he became bishop, when he had more time to read and study.

It’s these hand written notations that remind Sue of her work with Bishop Friend in 1986. The cyclical nature of working as Bishop Friend’s first secretary, and then on his book collection after his death is not lost on her. With joy and nostalgia she said, “Working on his books, seeing his curiosity and interests, has brought him more into my life.”

A special display is up in the Slattery Library highlighting some of the books in Bishop Friend’s collection.

Stop by, talk to Sue and browse through the bright green tabs and see what Bishop Friend wanted to share with the Catholics of the Diocese of Shreveport.

The checkout process is easy. Any patron to the library can browse, select the books they like, fill out a form and borrow them for two weeks.
The Slattery Library is located in the Catholic Center, located at 3500 Fairfield Avenue. It will re-open, after being closed for construction for several months, on February 1. It will be open from Monday – Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Diocese of Shreveport 2016 Annual Report

Click to download a PDF of the Diocese of Shreveport’s 2016 Annual Report

Vocations View: Want to Change a Life? Support Catholic Education

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by Lisa Cooper

Catholic vocations in all forms, from religious and priestly to living and working faithfully as a layperson all have to start somewhere. Oftentimes that place is in Catholic schools. In 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) put together a Catholic Schools Fact Sheet highlighting the numerous benefits of a Catholic education. The results were astounding.  Their findings indicate that a Catholic education impacts the lives of students far beyond graduation, possibly even for a lifetime. Among the many advantages of graduating from a Catholic school, here are a few of the most notable:

• Catholic school students are more likely to pray daily, attend church more often, retain a Catholic identity as an adult and donate more to the Church.

• Catholic schools tend to operate as communities rather than bureaucracies, which links to higher levels of teacher commitment, student engagement and student achievement.

• Students in Catholic schools demonstrate higher academic achievement than their public school peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.

• Currently, 5 of the 8 Supreme Court Justices went to Catholic school

• Catholic school graduates enjoy higher earning potential than public school graduates.

Evan Cooper

While it’s exciting to see statistical evidence that favors Catholic education, what’s more telling is a glimpse inside the life of a student who has had experience in both non-Catholic and Catholic school environments. Evan Cooper, a non-Catholic and sophomore at Loyola, transferred from another Shreveport private school. He says being at Loyola has certainly made a difference in his life. When asked about specific differences between his experience at Loyola compared to that of his previous school, Cooper says, “The faith aspect has been a big difference. Learning about Catholicism has taught me things I have never heard before. It has given me a real sense of truth.”  When asked about how being part of a Catholic school has affected his faith, he says, “[Learning about the Catholic faith] has made me look more deeply into it.  There are lots of things that are in the Catholic Bible that aren’t in my Bible, and it makes me wonder what else is out there that I’ve never been taught.”

Changing schools has certainly come with its share of challenges. Cooper echoes this statement as he points out, “I was not used to the effort I had to make academically.  It has taken a while to get used to the time I have to put into completing homework and learning material.”  He also notes that the faculty at Loyola has played an important part in making the transition easier. “The faculty seems like they are doing more than trying to get you through high school. They really care about you, so they’re trying to make you better for life and stronger in your faith.”
He continues with advice he would give any other student making that transfer, “Loyola may not push you as hard physically, but they will definitely push you harder both in academics and in your character.”

How often do we drive by our Catholic schools without stopping to think about what’s happening inside?  We have something very special in our backyards. We have parents, faculty, students and partners working together to make something spectacular happen. We have our Catholic schools, which not only provide our children with a fantastic education, but also which sow in our children the seeds of outstanding character and strong faith that will bear fruit they need to carry them for a lifetime.

Interested in learning more about our diocesan Catholic Schools? Visit www.dioshpt.org/catholic-schools for resources.

Second Collections: Second Collections for February & March

COLLECTION FOR AID TO THE CHURCH IN CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
Announcement Dates:  February 19 & 26   
Collection Date:  Ash Wednesday, March 1  

The poster for the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe once again features an image dear to people of every race, language and culture. The sight of a mother sharing a tender moment and nurturing faith in her child resonates at the core of our being.  This image brings into sharp focus the call of St. Pope John Paul II, our Pope Emeritus Benedict, XVI, and our current Holy Father Francis to “Restore the Church, Build the Future.” This collection supports the Church in over 20 countries, many of which are still struggling to recover in the aftermath of Soviet rule.  Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, Central and Eastern European countries have been working to rebuild political structures, social welfare and their economies. The funds collected are used to support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects. Please be generous in your sacrificial gift to “Restore the Church, Build the Future” in Central and Eastern Europe.  Thank you for participating in this work of mercy.

 

OPERATION RICE BOWL: A Program of Corporal & Spiritual Mercy
Announcement Dates:  February 19th & 26th   
Participation Dates:  March 1st – April 16th 

Operation Rice Bowl is a project of Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  This is not the CRS collection which will be taken up on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This is a Lenten devotion of each day intentionally pausing in this season of spiritual renewal to re-connect with our crucified and risen Lord.  Catholic Relief Services is our uniquely Catholic local, national and international disaster relief agency.  The Rice Bowl program extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, each day praying, fasting and offering alms to the Lord for the good of the least of His people. This year’s Rice Bowl program is titled, “A Time to Encounter Lent: Encounter ourselves, Encounter our neighbor, Encounter our God.”
Our daily sacrifice placed in the Rice Bowl during Lent helps us to consciously connect with our God, our neighbor and our very self.  Look for the Rice Bowl in our Catholic schools and parishes prior to Ash Wednesday.  Enhance your Easter joy; present your CRS Rice Bowl to our Risen Lord on Easter Sunday.  Check out the downloadable CRS Bowl Apps on the bottom of the Rice Bowl.  Thank you for participating in the program of corporal and spiritual mercy.