Category Archives: Local News

Director of Pastoral Ministry

By Randy G. Tiller

Diocesan Administration, which is often referred to as “the Catholic Center,” has always been envisioned to be a resource and of assistance to our priests, parishes, missions, schools, and the faithful of the diocese. In the past, there have been paths that were pursued in an effort to fulfill the mission.

It is with pleasure, excitement and enthusiasm that we make the following announcement of a NEW path – a new structure for outreach and ministry in our Diocesan Administration.

As of August 5, 2019,  after several discussions of what the future should hold and how it should look, we were fortunate to find an individual with the credentials and qualifications to step up to the plate and assist the Catholic Center as we begin our journey on this new path.

So what is this new role?  Seeing the need for more efforts toward our Youth and Young Adults, Campus Ministry, Hispanic Ministry and other outreach ministries; such as, Prison Ministry, Rachel’s Vineyard, Family Life Ministries, Catechesis, Vocations, Prolife, Liturgy and Worship; it became obvious to the College of Consultors, the Diocesan Administrator, the Moderator of the Curia and the Chancellor that something new and different needed to happen.

Therefore, a new position of responsibility and organization was established to enhance all “pastoral ministries.”  Mr. Mark Loyet, a staff member of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe, will be joining the administrative team within the next month or so to take over the reins of “pastoral ministry.”  First Mr. Loyet will be getting a firm handle on Youth and Young Adult Ministries and Campus Ministry and will then be moving into the other pastoral fields.  He will have a wonderful opportunity to overlap with Mrs. Dianne Rachal, current Director of Worship, before her retirement in December 2019, and to establish a bond and relationship with Mrs. Rosalba Quiroz who will continue as the Director of Hispanic Ministry.

Mr. Loyet has years of experience as a Youth Minister of students in both high school and junior high and recruiting, training and managing teams of volunteers.  He assisted with the March for Life in Monroe, youth leadership camps, directed Teen ACTS retreats, and organized and worked with youth leadership and advisory councils.

In the realm of Catechesis and teaching, Mark has written and implemented lessons and curriculums as well as coordinated Confirmation preparation programs and Protecting God’s Children classes.  He has worked with business managers to maintain budgets in collaboration with pastors and has engaged in extensive fund raising for all youth events. He has taught Sunday School Catechism, been a 7th grade religion teacher, and a Confirmation catechist.

Other pastoral ministries Mr. Loyet has been involved with include Prison Ministry as a Juvenile Detention and Probation Officer, involving assessments which screen for abuse, making recommendations to Juvenile Court, and conducting audits to ensure that they were in compliance with juvenile justice department standards.

Liturgy and worship involvement has included training altar servers, teaching RCIA, coordinating Youth Masses, conferring with church staff and other ministry teams.All of this experience and these skills have been developed and honed in the workplace. His education has taken him to the University of Dallas to study Western Theology and Christology; he received a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of North Texas with relevant courses including Religions of the World, Micro-Counseling, Research Methods, and Human Behavior in the Social Environment.Mr. Loyet has been accepted to pursue a Master’s Degree over the next several years from Holy Apostles College and Seminary while staying on the job and sharing his wisdom and expertise with the Diocese of Shreveport.He has extensive musical training, audio/video engineering, extensive interior and exterior home remodeling, as well as, a youth band member and band leader.

Mr. Loyet was born and raised Catholic.  He and his wife are proud parents of four sons and one daughter.  Talking with Mark, you soon realize that he is a passionate and effective youth mentor, teacher, advocate and coordinator.  “He feels his primary goals in this position should be to collaborate with, support, assist and empower priests and parishes, both their youth and youth ministers in the evangelization, formation, education and commissioning of young people to know, love and live the Gospel through evangelization, catechesis, advocacy, leadership development, service opportunities, pastoral guidance, prayer and reception of the sacraments.”

“There is an appointed time for everything…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to keep and a time to cast away…” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NAB).

The timing is right for the Diocese of Shreveport to begin this new journey with a fresh approach to our pastoral ministries.

Please welcome Mark Loyet!

Labor of Love

By Kate Rhea

One important facet of restoring and preserving cemeteries involves the physical upkeep of the stones and markers representing the interred. St. Joseph Cemetery is over 125 years old and features thousands of beautiful, but timeworn gravestones in need of periodic restoration.

Regular maintenance provided by the diocese has always included grounds maintenance; road maintenance, straightening of stones, cutting grass, planting and caring for trees and other plants that have grown over time. But more recently, the diocese has been implementing a more meticulous aspect of maintenance at St. Joseph by having stones professionally cleaned.

Over the years, grave markers have been composed of different materials, each of which has a specific need when it comes to being cleaned. Marble, granite, limestone, and sandstone each require a different cleaning technique and while some family members are able to tend to the stones of their departed loved ones themselves, many markers of those interred at St. Joseph have been left needing a bit of help to stay tidy.

One need only stroll down the paths of St. Joseph to understand the importance of the beauty and reverence that emanates from a well-loved Catholic cemetery. These holy spaces were selected with care and intent by the hard-working Catholic faithful of decades past. Keeping their markers intact, legible, and clean is a duty the diocese takes seriously and with great honor.

With the ongoing restoration of the Yellow Fever priests’ graves, the diocese is still managing to develop a plan for cleaning more of the headstones in the coming months and years. Donations which specifically target this new project will be applied accordingly. The diocese is grateful for all of the support for the ongoing projects in connection with St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. To stay informed of the progress and to be notified about upcoming events and initiatives, please e-mail Kate Rhea at: to be added to our email list.

The average cost for cleaning a stone and/or statue is $100.00 while double slab stones are $150.00. When we have to call in stone experts to re-erect or re-attach a tombstone the cost rises.  If families wish to cover the cost of these cleanings and repairs it will allow us to focus on those that do not still have family in the area.  If you would like to help support these efforts please make your tax deductible donation to Diocese of Shreveport, St. Joseph Cemetery and mail to 3500 Fairfield Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71104.

Discerning a Vocation in Elementary and Middle School

by Seminarian Raney Johnson

It might seem too early to begin discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school. Yet, whenever I give a talk about vocations to young Catholics, I remind them that it is never too early to start thinking about a vocation. St. Therese of Lisieux first desired to become a Carmelite nun around the age of 9, and St. Don Bosco was a little boy whenever he first told his mama that he wanted to be a priest. I started discerning my own vocation to the priesthood when I was in elementary school, and I discerned my vocation with greater intensity while I was in the 7th grade. Discerning a vocation in elementary and middle school can be difficult because it seems so far in the future. However, we can imagine ourselves as doctors, lawyers, basketball players and so many other occupations in the future while in elementary and middle school, why not imagine being a priest or a religious.

I hope to offer some advice to young Catholics in elementary and middle school who are thinking about a vocation to the priesthood, and I hope my advice will also help their parents. My first word of advice is mainly for young Catholics who have already received First Communion. The best way to start discerning a vocation to the priesthood at a young age is to frequent the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Most young Catholics attend Mass every Sunday with their families, and those who go to Catholic School get the opportunity to go to Mass twice a week, on Sunday and once during the week. Jesus speaks to us through the Mass, and it is through the Mass that we grow closer to Jesus when we receive his Body and Blood during Communion. It is often at Mass while watching the priest that many boys feel drawn to the priesthood. My second word of advice is to develop a prayer life. It is always best to start off simple. At first it can be as simple as praying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be every morning and every night. Developing the practice of a morning offering by thanking God for a new day and asking for God’s protection is another way to develop a spiritual life at a young age. Once it becomes routine to talk to God through prayer, then it might help to ask God about a vocation to the priesthood by praying, “God, are you calling me to be a priest, if so, please guide me” or “God, I want to be a priest, please help me to discern.” Even more beneficial is praying together with family members. This could be done by using any type of prayer, especially the rosary. My third word of advice is to become an altar server. Helping to serve at the altar during the Mass is a great way to explore a desire for the priesthood. Some parishes allow for young Catholics to become altar servers right after First Communion, but the age requirement to be an altar server might be around fourth or fifth grade at other parishes. I definitely encourage speaking with the parish priest and asking him about becoming an altar server.

My final word of advice is for the parents of young Catholics discerning the priesthood in elementary and middle school. Please share this article with your son if he is discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and encourage him to pray and listen to God’s will. To any young Catholics discerning a vocation to the priesthood, I encourage you with the words that St. John Paul II often quoted from Scripture, “Be not afraid.” God will guide you throughout your discernment.

St. Joseph Cemetery Updates

By Kate Rhea

Catholic cemeteries reflect an affirmation of many beliefs held sacred by the Catholic  faithful. Among those beliefs are the sanctity of all human life, respect for the bodies of the deceased, and dignity of the faithful departed interred within the sacred ground of a Catholic cemetery.

For all of their functionality and importance, cemeteries tend to be forgotten about over the generations for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, within that trend of neglect, there are always those who wish to keep older, historically important cemeteries alive and thriving.

In the early years of the 20th century, just a short time after St. Joseph Cemetery was established, cemeteries were shifting from being purposefully constructed away from cities and out of the everyday life of citizens, to being mindfully curated spaces where people could congregate to pay their respects in many different ways. Cemetery picnics were popular in the early 20th century, allowing for fellowship for families with deceased loved ones. Catholic cemeteries in particular began to be established with the intent of providing ministry of consolation to mourners, rather than simply a place to bury the dead.

With the rise of genealogy as a hobby over the last decade, hearts and minds are beginning to return to discovering the past. Family members hoping to delve into their personal lineage, historians studying pioneers of the past, and hobbyists interested in the social and cultural chronicles of their city all find themselves looking to cemeteries for answers.

Looking to the future of St. Joseph Cemetery, teeming with the remnants of rich personal histories of local families, many of which serve as a testament to the growth of our city, it is easy to understand how preservation and documentation are paramount to understanding not only the past, but the future as well.

Thanks to the generosity of faithful Catholics in our diocese, renovations to the martyred yellow fever priests’ memorial are going well. The steps are completed, the crypts are being restructured, and we will be ordering the granite replacement tops soon. For more information on how you can donate to this project and future projects, please contact the Catholic Center.

The Catholic Connection Welcomes New Editor

Photo by: Rachel Cochran

By: John Mark Willcox

The Diocese of Shreveport is pleased to welcome Samantha Maiette as the seventh editor of your Catholic Connection. Like so many people from this region, Samantha comes from a military background. As the daughter of Air Force parents she has traveled the world. However, for the past decade, she has resided in Bossier City with a four-year stint in Natchitoches as a student at Northwestern State University. While at Northwestern, Samantha began her writing career as a reporter, and later managing editor, for The Current Sauce, before transitioning into writing and publishing for local news outlets, such as the Natchitoches Parish Journal and the Red River Parish Journal.

In her free time, Samantha enjoys cooking, reading, traveling with her fiancé, interacting with her cat and researching new topics. Samantha brings a lot of skill and clarity to our publication and we certainly welcome her at the helm of our award-winning monthly news magazine for the diocese. Any material you would like considered for an upcoming issue of The Catholic Connection can be forwarded to Samantha at

“Invaluable Collection” Helps to Explain Church Fathers and their legacy.

The Fathers of the Church series, featuring 127 volumes, represents the longest modern publication run of translated works by Church Fathers. Hard-to-find, meticulously translated writings from Cyprian, Jerome, Basil, Ambrose, Peter Chrysologus and many more make up this invaluable collection. This is the definitive resource for anyone interested in learning about the Church Fathers and their legacy. Ideal for RCIA, catechists, clergy, as well as lay Catholics who want to learn more about the great teachers of early Christianity. However, the series is also beneficial for those studying theology, religion, late antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Spanning the first five centuries of Christianity, The Fathers of the Church books deliver essential patristic writings straight from the source. Slattery Library & Resource Center houses this complete collection which has been praised for its unparalleled historical and theological significance.


The Life of Sister Maria Smith, D.C.

by Patti Underwood

On Holy Thursday, we in the Diocese of Shreveport and beyond lost a rare treasure, Sister Maria Smith, D.C.  Sister Maria was Mother Superior of the Daughters of the Cross, serving in that position since 2003, last of the line extending from 1641.  Wise and compassionate, firm yet gentle, and steely strong, Sister Maria was in her 66th year of religious life.

As the only child of Earl and Myrtle Rambin Smith of Gloster, Earline Smith grew up on their dairy farm, milking cows, riding horses and listening to St. Louis Cardinals games with her father.  At age five she knew she wanted to be a nun after seeing a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word while visiting her mother at the hospital.  The family prayed the rosary daily, and her Protestant father dropped his girls off at St. Ann’s for Sunday Mass, he would become her first convert. After Mass, they would catch a ride home with the priest, who usually stayed for dinner.  In the tenth grade she entered St. Vincent’s Academy as a boarding student and upon graduating she entered the convent on September 8, 1953.  From 1957 to 1997, she taught at Presentation Academy (Marksville), St. John Berchmans (Shreveport), Jesus the Good Shepherd (Monroe), St. Patrick’s (Lake Providence), and St. Catherine’s (Shreveport), serving as principal at St. Catherine’s for five years and at Jesus the Good Shepherd for 17 years.

While sitting with Sister Maria, you were bound to hear stories from her teaching career, such as the time she financed uniforms for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Presentation by selling construction paper shamrocks downtown for a quarter and the time the Sisters picked up and sold enough pecans in Lake Providence to buy a car.  At St. Catherine’s she was struck by lightning she was unharmed, but the plastic buttons on her coat were melted.

Sister Maria impacted generations at Jesus the Good Shepherd, her tenure spanning from 1960 to 1997. Former teacher Minette Gilbert, mentions “[she had a] jovial heart and a can-do spirit, loved everyone who came through her door, but could get her message across.” Her memory is revered there, attested by the framed photo in the library, the Sister Maria Smith, D. C. Scholarship and the handmade cards she has received from current students, born long after her departure.

In retirement, Sister Maria continued to minister to family and friends, residents and staff through her friendship, cards, letters, prayers and discreet aid with personal problems.

Everyone who came into her circle became one of her children. She had a knack for seeing and bringing out the best in everyone, and she brought many into the Church. A few days before her death, she commented, “I don’t know what they’re worried about. I’m not worried,” as she gazed out the window and strummed her Breviary.

If you are lucky enough to possess one of her notes, hold onto it. You have a relic!


Praying for the Dead: A Merciful Act

Catholics are called by Christ to comfort those who mourn the loss of a loved one. A vigil, the funeral liturgy, and the rite of committal are each a part of the process of mourning the loss of a member of the Catholic faithful.

In Corinthians, St. Paul offers a reminder that the body is a temple; what happens to that temple when it is done serving God on earth holds great importance to members of the Catholic Church. The splendor of Catholic funeral rites offers a channel through which grief and remembrance can flow, but the merciful duty of those left to grieve is not complete upon burial. Burying the dead grants the body rest from pain; the flesh respites within sacred ground, cared for by Catholics performing the vital corporal acts of mercy decreed unto them by scripture, creed, and tradition. Though physically separated, those who have passed remain connected spiritually and therefore must be prayed for.

Living members of the Church are reminded, “You may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14

The book of Tobit conveys the idea of courage in burying the dead. Tobit’s courage shown by burying the victims of King Sennacherib has inspired many. However, a different courage is required of Catholics today; the courage to remember, to show strength in the face of pain and grief by continuing to honor and pray for the dead.

Serving to fulfill both a corporal work of mercy by burying the dead, and a spiritual work of mercy by praying for the dead, those who remain in this life doubly honor God with a Mass of remembrance.

Therefore, to honor those who have passed, and are part of the Communion of Saints, a Mass was conducted at St. Joseph Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at 10:30 a.m.; Msgr. Earl. V. Provenza presided.

For information on caring for the memorials of those interred at St. Joseph Cemetery, please contact the Diocese of Shreveport at (318) 868-4441 or email Kate Rhea at or Randy Tiller, Chancellor at The Diocese of Shreveport is honored to care for family and loved ones resting at St. Joseph Cemetery and offers options for tombstone repair, upkeep, or upgrades in addition to perpetual care. Please see the projects that have been completed and are scheduled for action. Thank you to everyone who has donated funds to assist with giving a face lift to St. Joseph Cemetery.

St. Joseph Cemetery Completed and Working Projects

Due to weather, the reconstruction of the crypts for the Yellow Fever priests has been temporarily delayed. However, as soon as we get a few dry days the crypts will be framed in concrete in order to replace the tops with the new granite registers. Project cost: $7,500.

Through generous donations we have the funding for the new granite tops for the priests who succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic in 1873. Project cost: $15,000

If groups would like to get together to cover costs for putting the same granite ledgers on the crypts of the deceased pastors of Holy Trinity, project cost is approximately $5,000 each.

Additional donations have been received to repair the steps up to the memorial statue at the Calvary Monument. Other necessary renovations for the Calvary Monument will cost $5,000.

We are still in the process of contacting families to request that they cover the cost of the renovations of their family plots. If you would like to make a donation to this cause, please contact the Diocese of Shreveport to inquire about the costs associated with cleaning, repositioning or ground entombments.
Additional information will be forthcoming as we move to the next areas of concern in the cemetery. We are working toward completing as many of the projects as we can over the course of this summer.

Faithful Food: Breath of Fresh Air

by Kim Long

The sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated recently in our parish. This class has been, well, different. We had some who had been with us “since the beginning” and some who were new students. Throughout the course of this year I came to know them better as I spent time with them on several occasions in a teaching and advisory capacity. On the morning of Confirmation though I was filled with anticipation. I was unprepared for my emotional reaction when the choir intoned the Veni Sancti Spiritus. I wondered how many really wanted the Holy Spirit to come and then suddenly I did, more than anything.
As the students brought the gifts during the Offertory I turned, craning my neck, in order to see each one, a smile breaking across my face. There, I thought, is one of the gifts a DRE receives: completion.

The verse from 2 Timothy came to mind: “I have finished the race, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith.” I felt that verse applied to both the students and myself.

The day before I talked with them about the pros and cons of their Parish School of Religion journey ending. We talked about “growing up our faith” as we age. Sitting in the pew on Sunday a million thoughts raced through my head about all the changes that seem to be happening at an unbelievable pace, barely leaving me time to catch my breath. Losing an editor was not the least of these.

Meeting Jessica Rinaudo for the first time my one overarching thought was of her youth, which was immediately followed by wondering how this “work relationship” would pan out. Like Katie, my fellow columnist of many years, I too have learned so much from Jess. It has been an utter delight, a blessing, and an exercise in all things associated with the art of the well-turned phrase.

With each passing month, I sat at my computer, churning out what I hoped God wanted me to say and then feeling completely vulnerable when I hit send afterward thinking, “the wheels are in motion, there is no turning back.” This was more true than I could know.

With Jessica’s carefully crafted comments, she guided me forward each month and we have come so far that I barely remember the first piece of writing I proffered for consideration. Over the years I have told her countless times that she makes me look better than designer clothes.

So, as this class was confirmed, I thought of gifts and the concept of receiving and realized God is always offering me treasure in one form or another if I have eyes to see and ears to hear. I thought of all the moments Jessica and I have shared, some funny, some heart wrenching, always a blessing. In my mind we have helped one another “keep the faith” through laughter, prayer, lunch and attempted rehabilitation for my careless abuse of the semicolon and the dash. Time passes, we move forward, we move on, we pack, we keep, we discard, we embrace, we grow our faith up as we grow up. As we both draw to the close of this chapter in our relationship, I look forward to hearing of her adventures and sharing my own as we both journey onward. In the “spirit” of the season I offer the following sidebar…

The Care and Feeding of a Columnist

Wisdom… an editor knows when to push you to the edge and when to pull you back.

Understanding… an editor knows when to extend a deadline and when to leave a text message asking if everything is ok as, “I haven’t heard from you.”

Counsel… an editor knows how to hold the shaky hand of a columnist and say, “Yes, you can.”

Piety… (also known as reverence, coming to God with humility). An editor respects that a columnist is opening up completely and guides them to a place where their work is respected and shines. An editor is prayerful and prays with and for their columnists.

Fortitude… an editor knows when to send a piece back, knowing it can be made better. What seems a momentary rejection becomes a teachable moment.

Knowledge… an editor knows the audience and the writers and that both answer to a higher power. An editor knows that flowery phrases often obscure the message and isn’t afraid to prune.

Fear of the Lord… an editor knows that God is God, and columnists are not. An editor guides their columnists to a place in their craft where higher truths will shine.

CCNLA and SVdP: Side by Side and Hand in Hand

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

At first glance, it may appear that there is a duplication of services in what the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) does and what Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) does. To some, it may be confusing that SVdP and CCNLA are two, completely separate unaffiliated organizations within the same Diocese of Shreveport. However, largely because of the efforts of Bonnie Martinez in Shreveport and Jo Ann Crone in Monroe, these two Catholic social service organizations have formed a partnership in which both organizations join forces in their efforts to serve the poor and vulnerable.

According to the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served. It is evident then, that the mission and vision of SVdP aligns with CCNLA’s own mission to bring Christ’s message of love to the poor and vulnerable by providing quality social services to families and individuals without discrimination.

As President of the Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which includes Shreveport, Bossier and surrounding areas, Martinez saw the opportunity for the two organizations to work together to mutually benefit and support each other’s programs. She proved to be the resource that bridged the gap of missing contact information for each organization. Through her leadership, conference members have gained an appreciation for the cooperative partnership with CCNLA and understand that the collective efforts of both groups better serve those in the community.

As the relationship has evolved over the years, when SVdP conference members are working with a family that they feel could benefit from the services of CCNLA could help supplement, they will refer the family to CCNLA. Likewise, CCNLA will refer clients to SVdP when we are unable to help with specific needs or when the client may benefit from supplemental aid that SVdP can provide. In this way, both organizations are able to reach more people and affect those lives for the better, doing more in collaboration than what could be accomplished individually.

“When we pool together our resources and efforts, we both get to serve the same individual,” said Martinez. “It’s a win-win situation. St. Vincent de Paul initiates an interpersonal connection through our home visits and with the educational component that Catholic Charities provides, we move closer to that which will result in long-term change for the individual.”

In the same way, Crone, Board President and a founding member of the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy in Monroe, has been pivotal in establishing a collaborative association with the CCNLA Monroe office as well. The CCNLA Monroe office works closely with the SVdP chapters of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Our Lady of Fatima Parish and St. Lawrence Church.

The special partnership that CCNLA and SVdP have created both in the Shreveport/Bossier and Monroe areas continues to grow stronger and proudly represents the Diocese of Shreveport hand in hand. The number of clients and families that CCNLA and SVdP have worked collectively to assist has been numerous. The relationship that SVdP and CCNLA have established embodies CCNLA’s vision that together SVdP and CCNLA invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice. •