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Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United More »

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St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

by Kate Rhea In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s More »

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Q&A with Illustrator Deacon Andrew Thomas

Beginning with the cover of this issue of The Catholic Connection, we will start printing one to two pages of a graphic novel on the five priests who gave their lives in More »

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Join Us for iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday

by John Mark Willcox shreveport.igivecatholic.org We are excited to announce that the Diocese of Shreveport will be participating in #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day created to celebrate our unique Catholic heritage! More »

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Martyrs and Saints: A History of Witness & Holiness in the Church

by Cheryl H. White, Ph.D. The earliest centuries of Christianity are punctuated by periods of severe persecution of the faithful in the Roman Empire, beginning in earnest under the reign of Emperor More »

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Domestic Church: Taking Little Ones to Mass

by Katie Sciba I have a confession to make: I haven’t always liked going to Mass. There have been some lengthy periods when the idea of going to Sunday Mass with my More »

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Protecting Our Children in the Diocese of Shreveport

by Deacon Michael Straub, Safe Environment Coordinator It is hard to miss all the news in the last couple of months on sex abuse by those placed in a position of trust More »

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Shroud of Turin: Shroud Experts & Original STURP Team Members Gather at Shreveport’s Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for Special Panel

by Jessica Rinaudo On the second weekend in October, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host an event that’s drawing international attention. Two members of the original 1978 Shroud of Turin More »

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Bishop Duca Installed in Baton Rouge Shreveport Bids Him Farewell

by Jessica Rinaudo photos by Marie Constantin & Bonny Van August 24 was a bittersweet day for the people of the Diocese of Shreveport, especially members of the clergy, diocesan staff and More »

From the Editor

by Jessica Rinaudo

You may have noticed that the cover of this issue of The Catholic Connection magazine looks a little different this month – it is an illustration of the five priests who died in serving the sick in the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. These are the same priests who are depicted in the stained glass windows inside Holy Trinity Church in downtown Shreveport.

This cover is the first of many illustrations you will see in The Catholic Connection in the coming months. The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, most notably Fr. Peter Mangum, Dr. Cheryl White and Ryan Smith, have embarked on a project to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic, and help make the faithful of our diocese more aware of the importance of these five martyrs, as well as the three Daughters of the Cross who died in the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. As part of their project, they have commissioned comic book artist and illustrator, Deacon Andrew Thomas, to draw a comic book of the events surrounding the lives of these priests in 1873, including their faith, service and deaths. One to two of those pages will be released each month in The Catholic Connection magazine as a serial, telling this important piece of Shreveport Catholic history. This project is sponsored by the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, and we are grateful to be able to share it with all the people of the Diocese of Shreveport.

With that in mind, there are several other articles in this issue that relate to this topic: an interview with the illustrator, Deacon Andrew Thomas; a story on St. Joseph Cemetery, where two of these priests are buried; information on martyrs in the Catholic church; and, of course, the main feature, which details the stories of these priests and how they shared their lives with the faithful of Shreveport in 1873. And don’t forget our Kids’ Connection this month ! There is also information about an upcoming podcast series on these priests that will debut the first weekend in November.

We hope you enjoy this special issue of The Catholic Connection, timed to print in conjunction with All Saints and All Souls days, and that you remember these martyrs in your prayers, especially during the month of November. •

Shreveport Martyrs and the 1873 Yellow Fever Epidemic

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by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White

In the late summer of 1873, Shreveport was besieged by the third worst epidemic of Yellow Fever that is recorded in United States history. On scale, the population loss was unprecedented. From late August until early November, Shreveport lost approximately one-fourth of its population to an illness that no one fully understood, although previous experience had taught that once the first frost arrived, the epidemic would abate. No one had yet made the connection that the virus of Yellow Fever is actually mosquito-borne, and in fact, requires the third vector of the insect to spread in a human population. Because of the unique conditions of a transient commercial population in this river port city, the density of population, and as home to a large mosquito population in the summer months, Shreveport was no stranger to the illness. However, the scale and ferocity of the epidemic of 1873 proved to be one for the history books. This year marks the 145th anniversary of this milestone in Shreveport history, but it marks a significant passage of Catholic history, as well.

Counted among the city’s dead were five Roman Catholic priests and two religious sisters of the Daughters of the Cross, as well as a young novice of that order. The sacrifice of their lives in the service of the city’s sick and dying provides compelling testimony to the Christian virtue of charity, and their willingness to die for others is a model for true selflessness. Their stories, while tragic, are yet inspiring in their witness to the very ideal given us by Christ: “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

The religious demographic of Shreveport in 1873 reflected a city that was mostly Protestant, but with a large Jewish population as well. Roman Catholics were but a small minority, and indeed, only three priests were assigned here at the time. Shreveport was a remote location of the Diocese of Natchitoches, founded in 1853. Its first bishop, Auguste Marie Martin, recruited priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Rennes in France to come to northern Louisiana. Among those men were five who could not have known at the time that their mission in Louisiana meant going to their deaths.

Fr. Jean Pierre, the founding pastor of Holy Trinity, had been in the area since 1854, when Bishop Martin first assigned him to Holy Apostles parish church in the Bayou Pierre community (Carmel, Louisiana today). Fr. Pierre built the first Catholic parish of Holy Trinity in Shreveport, and by the time of the Yellow Fever outbreak in 1873, he had only recently been joined by an associate pastor, the young 26-year old Fr. Isidore Quemerais. At the Daughters of the Cross convent, located on the site of the old Fairfield Plantation, Fr. Narcisse Le Biler served as chaplain.


With the Yellow Fever virus spreading rapidly, the Daughters of the Cross convent opened its doors as a hospital, as did Holy Trinity and many other churches, and even private homes throughout the city. Those who undertook the care of the sick and dying knew well the risks, and as the epidemic grew in both strength and numbers of lives claimed, it became apparent that 1873 was worse than the region had ever seen. Yet, the care for others did not cease. The sisters of the Daughters of the Cross worked alongside the clergy to minister to both physical and spiritual needs.

On September 15, 1873, Fr. Isidore Quemerais died of the virus. The following day, September 16, Fr. Jean Pierre succumbed as well. Two days later, on September 18, realizing that he was also ill with Yellow Fever, Fr. Le Biler sent a telegram to Fr. Louis Gergaud, pastor of St. Matthew Church in Monroe, asking for help. Fr. Gergaud boarded a stagecoach bound for Shreveport, and his final words to his assistant were, “Write to the bishop and tell him I go to my death. It is my duty, and I must go.” Indeed, Fr. Gergaud’s prophecy proved true, for he contracted the virus almost immediately upon arriving in Shreveport, and died on October 1.

Providentially, Fr. Gergaud arrived in time to provide comfort and final sacraments to Fr. Le Biler, who died on September 26. At the convent hospital, the epidemic had also already claimed the lives of Sister Marie Martha on September 17, and Sister Marie Angela on September 23. Also receiving word about the increasingly desperate situation in Shreveport was Fr. Francois LeVezouet in Natchitoches. The ensuing meeting between Bishop Martin and Fr. LeVezouet is recounted in this excerpt from a forthcoming book by these authors about the Shreveport martyrs:

Upon his return to the Natchitoches Cathedral of St. Francis on Second Street, positioned just one block from a dead arm channel of the Red River, Father LeVezouet tied up his horse at the stable near the rectory, where he was soon met by the grim face of Bishop Auguste Marie Martin.

The Bishop wasted no time in handing LeVezouet the two documents. The parish priest unfolded the letters and examined them. One was a desperate letter scrawled by Mother Mary Hyacinth Le Conniat at the Fairfield convent and girl’s academy on the southern outskirts of Shreveport. The matron was bearing witness to the virtual eradication of the small Catholic community there and she feared Shreveport and its suffering masses would soon be without the sacraments. Both of the priests in the city were deadly sick and the strong probability was arising that they would soon die in tandem. She was concerned also there would be no clergy remaining to carry on the affairs of the mission, to offer the daily Masses, let alone minister to the multitudes of the sick and dying from the sweeping epidemic.

The second note was the even more worrisome letter from Father Le Biler himself, pastor of the convent, who in a desperate voice and shaking hand requested aid at once, as it was feared by all that he would not last much longer.

Father LeVezouet took in the contents of the dispatches and looked up at the bishop to find him searching the priest’s face as he stood before him. A great sadness was perceptible, almost tangible in the air as the moments passed.

“What would you like to do, my son?” Bishop Martin asked, at last breaking the painful silence.

“Monseigneur, if you tell me to go, I go, if you leave it up to me, I stay.”

Bishop Martin paused and thought for a moment trying to understand “the real meaning of his words.” The bishop was not convinced his priest was shirking in fear, but nonetheless did not understand his meaning all at once. He was puzzled, like a disciple on a Galilee hilltop awaiting the parable’s explanation: do you not yet understand? Some more painful moments passed.

Then, Father LeVezouet added, “I want to go so much that, if you left the decision up to me I would believe that in going I was acting according to my own will… I do not want to do anything but the will of God.”

The bishop was leveled by the piety before him. He could hardly speak any further and only told the priest to make ready to go at once in relief of Shreveport.

Fr. LeVezouet arrived in Shreveport just in time to provide viaticum to Fr. Louis Gergaud on October 1. It was not long before Fr. LeVezouet was also ill and knew his own death was near. He died on October 8, but not before two priests from New Orleans arrived. Fr. James Duffo, S.J. and Fr. J. Ferrec both had been exposed to Yellow Fever before, and their arrival in Shreveport was timed, yet again, to assure that the Catholics of the city were never without the sacraments. By that time, a third death had been recorded at the convent. Sister Rose of Lima, who was yet a novice, died October 5.

It is remarkable, and even miraculous, that the grim timeline of 1873 bears out such Providential care at work. Each priest arrived in succession, just in time to care for the one before, with the end of their lives timed so that the terminal phase was not reached until another priest could offer the sacraments. To again draw from the forthcoming book on their lives:

What is certain is that Francios LeVezouet died violently, expelling black vomit throughout his last evening on Earth. Then, through Divine mercy personified, the New Orleans priests arrived by his bedside with what was recorded as only moments to spare before his passing, knowing full well it was not only his earthly cry for help they had answered, but that they were also serving the will of God.

Within whatever parlor, boarding house room, or commercial structure the dying priest lay, Fathers Duffo and Ferrec administered Francios LeVezouet, a child of God and a devoted disciple of Christ, his final sacraments, and with little time to spare as he passed quickly thereafter. Thus the New Orleanian Jesuit and the assistant pastor to the Cathedral of St. Louis were initiated into the confraternity of the charnel house priests, with the dual missions to bring hope and peace to the dying strangers surrounding them and to continue the sacraments without a moment’s secession, to the handful of remaining Catholic faithful in northwestern Louisiana.

As this area commemorates the 145th anniversary of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Shreveport, it provides Catholics with an opportunity to foster a lively devotion to these priests and religious sisters who truly were martyrs to their charity. Their lives, and especially their deaths, provide the strongest possible witness to the fundamental call of our historic Catholic faith, which is to serve others. The population statistics underscore the poignant truth of their ultimate sacrifice: they did not question the creed or faith of the dying they comforted. They did not choose to suffer and die just for Catholics, but for any and all – because they were Catholic. Their ongoing witness to us is resoundingly clear, their sacrifices were not in vain, and may the memory of them be forever woven into the rich tapestry of our local Catholic identity.

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Let us pray through the intercessions of these servants of God for divine favor for those we know who have special need of our prayer, especially the ill, as well as for ourselves and for our city. 

Cathedral Launches New Podcast Mini-Series Highlighting Shreveport 1873

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will have a special podcast mini-series during the month of November entitled, No Greater Love: Shreveport 1873. The series will commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Shreveport, which ended in mid-November 1873. That epidemic witnessed the deaths of five Catholic priests and three religious sisters from the Daughters of the Cross. Each episode will highlight a different Shreveport “martyr to his charity,” in the order of their deaths: Fr. Isidore Quemerais, Fr. Jean Pierre, Fr. Narcisse LeBiler, Fr. Louis Gergaud, and Fr. Francois LeVezouet. The podcast series is being produced by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White, who are authoring a book on the priests and the other religious of 1873 who sacrificed their own lives in the service of others. It will be available in the iTunes store and on the Cathedral website.

St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

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by Kate Rhea

In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s growing Catholic population was in need of space to bury its dearly departed; a private place for peaceful rest during a turbulent time in history.

His faith and devotion to his fledgling parish led him to use his own savings to establish Shreveport’s first Catholic Cemetery. He named it in honor of his patron saint, and 136 years later, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery is still operating as a resting place for departed Catholics in the area. Since taking over operations at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in 1996, the Diocese of Shreveport has facilitated the burial of hundreds of Catholics who have the privilege of being interred in a cemetery full of rich and enduring history.

St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery has developed over the decades. Its present state offers nearly 100 sections arranged into plots and crypts. In addition, a Garden Mausoleum and Chapel Mausoleum feature over 200 interred tombs. For older cemeteries, the common question is whether or not expansion is necessary or optional. In the case of St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, there are already nearly 300 plots currently available with a projected additional 200 plots which will become available when needed.

Those interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are in good and honorable company. Many notable persons are buried throughout the cemetery, including local religious leaders, such as two of the beloved priests who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic, 14 Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and Fr. Gentille himself.

Shreveport’s early champions of entrepreneurship and philanthropy are also buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. One such champion is Justin Vincent Gras who came to Shreveport from France in the late 19th century, ran a successful family grocery, and later became the largest landowner in Caddo Parish by the 1920s. A benefactor of St. Vincent’s Academy and St. Mary School, Gras was a community contributor. He is credited with the phrase, “What’s good for Shreveport is good for me!”

Contributors to academia and the art world are also present at the cemetery, including Lebanese novelist Afifa Karam. Karam was an advocate for Arab Feminism who made her literary debut in 1906 by the age of 23. She was put in charge of an Arabic-language newspaper called Al-Hoda in New York City, and created al-’Ālam al-Jadīd al-Nisā’ī, a monthly periodical for women. She settled with John Karam in Shreveport and is described by biographers as an ardent and involved Catholic.
Veterans of several wars are interred at St. Joseph including Pvt. A.J. Stacey, a Confederate soldier and member of Stewart’s Louisiana State Guard C.S.A. and Henry Lane Mitchell, a veteran of World War II who served as Shreveport’s public works commissioner from 1934 to 1968.

Local football legend David Woodley, who played quarterback for Byrd High School, LSU and professionally for the Miami Dolphins, is buried there also. In 1983, Woodley played in Super Bowl XVII as the youngest starting quarterback in history at that time, solidifying his place in sports history.

Presently over a dozen beloved Catholics and their family members are buried annually at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery and the cost of such a privilege is less prohibitive than one might imagine. With national averages for burial plots in private cemeteries hovering around $1,500, buying a plot at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery costs $750, with cremation burial rights costing considerably less at $375. The range of prices for opening and closing fees associated with burial at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are between $850 to $1,100, depending on whether the service is held on a weekday, weekend or holiday.

Other items needed for grave side services, such as tents and chairs, are available upon request and for a reasonable fee. The staff at the Diocese of Shreveport are courteous and professional with many years of experience and can answer any questions you have about the process, whether you’re planning for the future or dealing with an unexpected burial need.

In early 2018, the Diocese of Shreveport honored St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery’s past by revitalizing its digital archival database for those interred over the last 100+ years. The complicated yet necessary tasks of mapping and confirming burial sections, researching records and preserving individual documents are currently underway. Cemetery prayer services, cleaning days and genealogical study groups for family members are all a part of the plan for keeping St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in the hearts and minds of Catholics in the diocese.

For more information about burial costs and available spaces, please contact Ed Hydro at ehydro@dioshpt.org, or 318-219-7277. If you would like information pertaining to a loved one interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, please contact Slattery Library and Resource Center at 318-219-7264, or e-mail Kate Rhea at krhea@dioshpt.org. •

Q&A with Illustrator Deacon Andrew Thomas

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Beginning with the cover of this issue of The Catholic Connection, we will start printing one to two pages of a graphic novel on the five priests who gave their lives in service to others in the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873. Deacon Andrew Thomas is the artist behind this amazing new series. We chatted with him about his art and faith to give you an idea of the person behind the pen.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – when you became a deacon, where you serve.
I am married to my lovely wife, Patty, and I have four beautiful children: Sara (15), Lisa (11), Monica (10), and Benedict (4). I became a deacon on February 11, 2017, ordained on the Feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes for the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina. I am very blessed to be serving at St. Michael Catholic Church in Murrells Inlet, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach.

How did you begin drawing graphic novels?
I began drawing comics at a very young age. I really loved reading comic books when I was a child. There was a group of us in sixth grade that used to collect and draw comics, and I remember distinctly getting in trouble one day for drawing one of my comics during class time. My teacher told me to write on the back of the comic book I was making, “I was drawing this during English class,” and have it signed by my parents!

Did you go to art school?
Yes, I was very fortunate to go to one of the best art colleges in the world, Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Our instructors there pushed us really hard on fundamental drawing skills. We had to study muscular and skeletal anatomy as well, drawing very frequently from live models. Our illustration instructors stressed the importance of sketching out and then choosing the best idea before starting the final composition. Competition was fierce, but the majority of us left the college as highly-skilled illustrators.

How did you grow your talent?
I have been drawing throughout my entire life. I don’t ever remember a period of my life when I was not drawing. The two desires I contemplated with respect to utilizing my art talent were either to draw animated cartoons, or to draw comic books. Animated cartoons are such an involved process and take so many artists to put together even a very short film, so I lost interest in doing so very early on. What I liked about comic books is that one person could do them, so I decided I would illustrate comic books, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity not only to draw captivating scenes, but also to use them to tell a story.

What are some other graphic novels / series you’ve done?
My first graphic novel is a book titled, Borderline. I did most of the drawing of this book when I lived in Puebla, Mexico, early on in my marriage. I think it’s a really unique story. The main character, Bart Selmer, a south Texan, crosses the border to Mexico for the first time, and he is shocked by the level of poverty he sees, but gains a healthier perspective of his neighbors south of the border.

My second graphic novel is a book titled, The Life of St. John Berchmans. I had found a reprint online of an old biography of the saint and had a strong desire to read about him. Once I found out that the miracle that led to his canonization took place only an hour west of Baton Rouge where I had grown up, I felt compelled to tell his story in a graphic novel format.

I’m continuing to work on A History of the Diocese of Charleston for our diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Miscellany, which will culminate in the celebration of the bicentennial year for the diocese on July 11, 2020.

How does your faith play a role in your art?
I decided early on, having left my graphic art career in 2002, upon entering Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, that I would only use my artwork for God’s greater glory. In the seminary, I started an illustrated book of saints, but never finished the book or my seminary formation. However, my marriage benefited tremendously from the seminary formation, and my diaconal ministry benefited from it as well, and I would again illustrate saints, but now in a more compelling graphic novel format. God had a plan! I am very thankful that all of the graphic novel work that I have been blessed to produce has been God-centered.

What is your process for creating a comic book?
I start by researching as much as possible. Not only do I have to understand the time period and environment that I am illustrating, but I also have to be aware of the architecture and fashion of the time. Then, I try to make a number of sketches of the main characters that I will be illustrating. Once I feel comfortable, I jump in page by page and try to bring life to each panel, starting with pencils, then brush and ink, finally adding color and dialogue with the computer.

Many comic illustrators today produce all of their artwork digitally, and they certainly achieve dynamic results. I still prefer to use traditional materials, using pencil and paper, and brush and ink. I try to give my work a classic look throughout which lends itself well to the historical work I’ve produced lately.

Join Us for iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday

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by John Mark Willcox

shreveport.igivecatholic.org

We are excited to announce that the Diocese of Shreveport will be participating in #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day created to celebrate our unique Catholic heritage! The #iGiveCatholic Giving Day inspires faithful stewards to “Give Catholic” on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving.

The goal of the #iGiveCatholic Giving Day is to rally the Catholic community of our diocese in support of the organizations that shape our souls: Our Annual Appeal programs and ministries, our Catholic schools and nonprofit ministries dedicated to helping those in need. We know that, for Catholics, generosity and giving have a profound meaning. As children of God, giving is the ultimate expression of mercy as we provide quality education to our young people and help those in need while preserving our Catholic heritage in North Louisiana for future generations. Compelled to action by our shared faith, our prayer is that area Catholics will be energized to give back with critical needed financial support.

This is the first year that the Diocese of Shreveport will take part in this unique and very successful program which has provided monetary assistance to many worthy ministries over the past several years. #iGiveCatholic will take place this year on November 27th (Giving Tuesday) from midnight until 11:59 pm Central Time. Plan to visit #iGiveCatholic on the web on November 27th and remember that this is a wonderful opportunity to offer your generous support to our core efforts to serve our region through gifts to our Annual Appeal, Catholic schools, the Society of  St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities of North Louisiana.

If you have any questions or need more information on this year’s #iGiveCatholic day of giving, contact the Diocesan Development Office, bvice@dioshpt.org. •

Kids’ Connection: Shreveport Yellow Fever Martyrs

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on the priests who died in the Shreveport Yellow Fever epidemic of 1873.

Catholic Charities: Making a Difference

Volunteer Lauren Gore surveys clients three months after they’ve attended Money School.

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of CCNLA

Most of the people who reach out to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana need some financial assistance with utilities and/or rent. Often I’m asked, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” referring to the help we give the poor and vulnerable we serve. The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

Before discovering the need, everyone requesting financial assistance is required to attend the Money School, a roughly three-hour class which helps people recognize “leaks” in their finances. The classes are held at each of our offices in Shreveport, Monroe and Lake Providence. I have personally attended this class multiple times and learned something new at every single one. During the session, each attendee takes a pre-test and post-test to determine how much information is being absorbed. The average increase in financial knowledge is 40 percent.

In addition to the test, we provide a survey at the end, asking our clients specifically what they thought of the Money School. Here are some of their responses:

“It made me realize I need to get a job and SAVE.”

“I’m going to write down everything I spend money on.”

“Thank you for taking time out to help me learn to make the right decisions.”

“I need to eliminate the LEAKS!”

After the Money School, each client is offered a one-on-one counseling session with a case manager, free of charge. During this visit our case managers really dissect each person’s finances and delve into the problems people are experiencing. Overall, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana helps less than half of the people seeking monetary assistance, due to a lack of funding. There are many more people who truly need our help—and qualify—but our budget simply cannot accommodate everyone who enters our doors.

Finally, a sampling of all who attended the Money School (those helped and not helped by CCNLA) are given a phone survey after three months to determine changes in the clients’ situation. Here is the combined result from our surveys:
Gained Habits 73% (such as tracking spending, purchasing needs vs. wants, etc.)

Opened a Bank Account    12%
Gained Employment        19%
Increased Income        27%
(average increase: $1,032.58)
Current on Rent        72%
Current on all Utilities        55%

**Disclaimer: Individuals may not seek help again from CCNLA until 24 months have passed, and they must be able to prove that the tools we gave them were being used, e.g. tracking spending.

So, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” can be answered by our clients, their statistics, and the respect we’ve earned from other non-profits in the community who use Catholic Charities as a benchmark.

Catholic Charities is supported by the Community Foundation of NW Louisiana, Beaird Family Foundation, Grayson Foundation, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, Louisiana State Bar Association, Jonesboro State Bank, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, Walmart and the Diocese of Shreveport.

Saying Yes to Embrace Grace!

by L’Anne Sciba

On October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the fifth Embrace Grace Baby Shower was sponsored by the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and Mary’s House. Thirteen young mothers were honored because they are carrying babies in tough circumstances, but they said “YES” to the invitation to attend 12 classes at Mary’s House – classes that introduced them to Jesus, new people, practical information and the Church.

What is just as wonderful is that women and men from eight parishes in the diocese and other groups in Shreveport said “YES!” to pray, bring gifts and/or to attend this Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

The Embrace Grace vision is to give single, pregnant women a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support.  The Embrace Grace mission is to inspire and equip the Church to love single and pregnant young women and their families. Both the girls and the people of the Church step out of their comfort zones to make an Embrace Grace class and baby shower happen. Thank you for your prayers, gifts, work and attendance at the Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

Gratefulness is the Secret to Graceful Aging

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Old age is a proving ground for faith and just another season of life. The wonder of it all is that gratitude can stretch your mind if you allow it to capture you. It breathes in this wonder and breathes it out during this season when we live in gratitude and thanksgiving. How enriched our lives can be by this wonder shared with others! To grow old spiritually is only possible when we live that new season as a thankful person. Gratefulness is the secret of graceful aging. Aging is all God’s doing, so don’t fight it.

Pope Francis says that older people still have a lot to offer younger people. God calls them to become spiritual grandparents to the youth, in spite of many people, he says, who might not want older people around.

They might call them the “gerontocracy of the Church,” but older people say they don’t know what they are talking about. We’re not geriatrics, we’re grandparents! God says, according to Pope Francis, “Get up, Look! Hope!” Grandparents share a sense of life and experience with their grandchildren. This is a beautiful reflection from Pope Francis.

Nature brings out the true spirit of a person because they are in touch with the most noble parts of their life in ways they couldn’t have been in younger years. Living a spirited life is what aging is all about. Join the profession of aging!

Being grateful for all this during the season of Thanksgiving can break all boundaries between people. It shows that we are still the “psycho-spiritual us” wherever we are. Let it show as you honor the season, your families, friends, as it’s a season of our souls.

Dazzle everyone! We’ve learned how to fight our culture’s allergy to aging and remember, no one stays young forever.
Victor Hugo said, “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
With or without turkey, this month will be a great celebration! How stunningly blessed we are to have in the Catholic faith, the central point, the EUCHARIST as THANKSGIVING. We can trust in Jesus, in the Eucharist. Electrify the whole world by breaking all barriers that separate us and treat everyone with dignity and respect as Jesus did. Have a marvelous season of Thanksgiving and gratitude.