Category Archives: Local News

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. •

Your Appeal Helps Provide Priests for Our Future

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

Our current seminarians who are actively discerning their vocation can continue to count on your Appeal donation to provide the required tuition, room and board to assist them with their education at both the college and theologate level of seminary training. Our Appeal has a long tradition of caring for the needs of our seminarians. It also supports our diocesan Office of Church Vocations which continually seeks to identify and enlist men and women for a lifetime of religious service to the Church. This year, the largest percentage of our Appeal allocation of funds will be for the support of our seminarians.

This past month we had the opportunity to witness the ordination of Father Kevin Mues. Thanks to your generosity, our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal was able to support Father Kevin by providing the education he needed during his discernment and formation, nurturing his vocation to the priesthood into fruition. In June we will again have the opportunity to witness your Appeal dollars supporting our future priests as four of our seminarians participate in the Rite of Candidacy Mass on June 2 at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans at 11:00 a.m. At that Mass, four young men, Nicholas Duncan, Raney Johnson, Jeb Key and Kelby Tingle, will officially become candidates for the priesthood for the Diocese of Shreveport.

It is important to note that this area of ministry is the real future of the Church in our region, as our diocese will be challenged to supply priests to all 38 of our parishes, missions and chapels. Providing new priests for our diocese is a crucial task for our combined faith community and your donation to this worthy cause helps our Appeal lead the way! •

Ordination to the Priesthood


With Praise and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, the Diocese of Shreveport Announces with Great Joy the Ordination of

Deacon Kevin Joseph Mues

to the Sacred Order of Presbyter Through the Imposition of Hands and the Invocation of the Holy Spirit by His Excellency

Most Reverend Michael G. Duca, Bishop of Baton Rouge

On Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 10:00 in the Morning

at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans

939 Jordan Street, Shreveport, Louisiana

First Priestly Blessing and a Reception to follow at St. John Berchmans Multi Room

A “Slime” Sensation at St. Frederick High School


by Melissa Shepard

St. Frederick High School Junior, Giselle Fakhre, has become a social media sensation. The 16-year-old entrepreneur and member of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe, spends her time working as somewhat of a celebrity in the world of slime. The 16-year-old entrepreneur has 920,000 followers on her SlimeSlime101 Instagram account.

Giselle is a creator of slime, which for those who are unaware is a gooey, sticky substance that is all the rage with children today. Slime lovers enjoy the gooiness of the stuff which they say relieves stress. Followers also love all the different slime designs Giselle makes. Slime is becoming an art form for this generation of youngsters. Slime lovers manipulate the sticky substance and all the different things that are mixed into it to make it both fun and attractive. Giselle mixes a variety of items into her slime creations including plastic balls, colors, sparkles, balloons and anything else she can think of to include.

Giselle’s business has grown so much that she is now sought after by toy companies such as ORB Toys and Compound Kings from Wecool Toys. Additionally, she is on the PR list for big name companies such as Elmer’s and Karina Garcia. This month she and her mother will attend Slime Bash, a slime convention in Chicago, IL, where she will be a VIP guest and will sell her slime add-in kits, which are of course packaged and decorated.

Giselle is a life-long member of Jesus Good Shepherd Parish. She attributes the start of her love of art to her elementary school art classes at Jesus Good Shepherd School. At St. Frederick High School, her civics class studied economic systems which inspired her to expand her small business. Giselle’s faith sustains her on days when she is extremely busy with school work, cheerleading, yearbook, social media accounts and business commitments. Her favorite Bible verse is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

Giselle is the daughter of Dr. Saidi Sowma-Fakhre and Dr. Fakhre Fakhre who are both extremely proud of her initiative and success. Upon graduation from St. Frederick High School she would like to attend an out of state university where she can study business and draw upon her entrepreneurial experiences.

Your Appeal Helps Care for God’s People Subsidies for Retried and Infirm Priests

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

This past year our diocese has witnessed the passing of two of our most beloved retired priests with the death of Msgr. Carson LaCaze and Fr. Richard Lombard. Both of these men continued to serve the Church well past their official retirement and their impact on our faith community will be long-lasting. Even though our diocese continues to lose retired priests to advanced age and death, the number of our retired diocesan priests still stands at nine men.

Some of our priests claim retirement but remain an active part of our Church family. You may see Fr. Phil Michiels, Msgr. Earl V. Provenza or Fr. James McLelland celebrating a Mass at your parish while your pastor is on leave. Fr. Patrick Madden was famous for counting down the days to his official retirement, yet he still enthralls his faithful students each Thursday at the Catholic Center as scripture and Church teachings are examined in his class. These men are just some of the retired priests who remain committed to the people of our diocese and count on our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal to provide them with financial support in their later years.

Your Appeal generosity also helps to provide high-quality medical care for our aging retirees, while trying to anticipate the annual rise in health care costs every year. In some instances, retired priests require hospitalization, after care and rehab, which can be very costly.  In 2019, a significant portion of Appeal funding is dedicated to offering our retired priests a well-deserved quality of life in their later years as they continue to depend on the Church they served so well.

If you have yet to make your gift to our 2019 Appeal campaign, please use the pledge card found below. If you have already supported our 2019 Appeal effort, may God bless you for helping provide for the needs of our retired priests.  •

Purposeful Work with Meaningful People

The Catholic Charities of North Louisiana staff with Olah (front, third from left).

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) means being part of a greater life experience. It is the opportunity to love others for who they are and not where they come from, understanding different cultural perspectives of those who have walked down different paths, and recognizing that no act of service is too small or meaningless.

The poor, the uneducated, the foreigner, the one whose native language is not the same as yours – all of these I have encountered while working at CCNLA. They are the clients, the fellow staff members and volunteers. I am surrounded by diversity ethnically, educationally and spiritually. Yet each and every person has a story to tell that is both fascinating and inspiring. At Catholic Charities, we not only lend a helping hand, but we make a difference every day to people from all walks of life. The impact of reaching out to others in service and in love can never be underestimated.

Imagine a man coming to CCNLA on an ordinary Tuesday morning. He is there to attend The Money School, a requirement for emergency rent or utility assistance. Imagine that same man, in hopelessness and despair, mentioning to the front desk receptionist that he probably would not be coming back. Ever. Now imagine that same receptionist is intuitive enough to be greatly concerned for this man’s emotional stability. She mentions to one of the case workers that the man needs some extra attention and care. Now, this case worker loves his job, understands his clients well and enjoys spending time with people and getting to know them. So then, imagine that the case worker establishes a rapport with the man, commits to checking in with him on a regular basis, visits him on the weekends at his home and even offers him contract work that gives the man purpose. Realize now that after spending time talking with the CCNLA case worker, the man admits that he tried to take his own life the very night before coming into Catholic Charities.

This man is just one of those whose life was changed by their encounter with Catholic Charities. Often CCNLA staff will encounter the tears of the mother of five who is so behind in bills she has lost all hope. We see the gratitude of elderly clients who need help applying for food stamps online because they don’t know how to use a computer. We even get the chance to celebrate with the man or woman who has been granted legal status and can finally see a path towards becoming a U.S. citizen. These are the reasons why working at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana is both gratifying and good for the soul.

It is also why leaving CCNLA in May will be so bittersweet. On one hand, my family and I have decided that after nine years in Shreveport, it is time for us to move back home to Florida and be closer to all of our family. On the other hand, I feel that I am leaving my CCNLA family too soon, leaving an organization that makes such a positive impact in people’s lives. I hope whoever joins Catholic Charities in my place will feel the same joy and satisfaction of being part of such a wonderful organization   •

Humanitarian Award Presented to Sister Martinette


by Mary Ann Van Osdell

Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS, 82, has dedicated her life to serving others around the world. On March 26, she received the first Humanitarian Award from the Sabine Hall of Fame at its 22nd annual banquet in Many.

Seventy years ago she left Zwolle to follow her dream of religious life. She has been a Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows for 66 years.

“I have done many things, but I suppose the highlights of my life’s work would be working in Bangladesh from 1988 to 2002 with Muslims, Hindus and Christians,” she said.

From the seminary, to the poorest villages, Sr. Martinette has lived her life helping the last, the least, the lost and the lowest of all peoples. Rather than see their children die of starvation, Sr. Martinette saw the people of Bangladesh give them up. This meant she brought six of those babies to the United States to be adopted by her friends. Those children have become well educated, adult citizens.

Sr. Martinette also opened a clinic and a school for the poor and begged for money to build them homes after the 1998 flood in Bangladesh. More than 200 homes were built for Muslims, Hindus and Christians from her efforts. In her honor, community members built a school, college and hospital, all which bear her name.

“Poor people don’t care where one studied or what degrees you have, but only how much you love them,” Sr. Martinette said. He motto is living the Gospel message of love and service, spreading His loving concern for others, and loving as Jesus did.

Sr. Martinette met Mother Teresa many times, as well as several popes. Slowing down is not in the picture for her as she continues to remain active in body and spirit. She has lived the seasons of her life very well. In her acceptance speech she said that she hopes to dazzle everyone she meets.

On August 29, 1936, Joan Martinette Rivers was born in Shreveport to Thomas Rivers, descendant of Richard Rivers, and Elizabeth Ebarb. She remembers growing up in Zwolle, riding a wagon to church and pretending to be a religious sister by wearing a towel on her head. She knew at an early age that she wanted to become a sister and go out to help the poor and disadvantaged.

In 1947, her teacher, Mr. Mulkey, told his class to think about how they could make a dent in society. After class, she hurried up to speak to the Sisters at St. Joseph School for information. She was known as a rascal, but they encouraged her to pursue her dream. Her dad left to study at Mississippi College and the family followed, but Sr. Martinette went to San Antonio, TX, to go to high school and later to pursue a vocation to become a Missionary Sister.

After finishing Little Flower High School in 1952, Sr. Martinette entered the convent and continued her education at Incarnate Word University and St. Mary’s University before traveling to Mexico City as an exchange student to study art and architecture. As a young sister, she learned eight languages and ended up at the university in Monterrey, Mexico, studying advanced Spanish and prose and poetry. She later studied at the Gregorian University in Rome, returning to the U.S. to teach for eight years before heading back to Rome to study Bangla and missionary spirituality to prepare for going to Asia. Before she departed, she was garlanded by Saint Pope John Paul II.

In Asia she taught theology at the National Major Seminary in Bangladesh, where she remained for many years. There she helped young women discern their call to sisterhood.

In 2002, Sr. Martinette returned to America from Asia and decided to go back to school at the age of 66, studying gerontology in St. Louis, MO. She finished her studies in 2005 and began working as a gerontologist and geriatric counselor at Azalea Estates Assisted Living, teaching their seniors how to age gracefully with happy hearts.

She is part of a facility where she is loved and respected. She sings, plays the piano, loves to dance, teaches, tells jokes, paints, cooks, does music and grief therapy, or whatever the needs there are at the moment, keeping the residents on their toes and happy. She is teaching one older man to speak Italian and  has arranged violin lessons for another resident.

Sr. Martinette is very involved with the interfaith groups in Shreveport-Bossier. The world religion group is her favorite. She writes for The Catholic Connection, is a religious adviser for Catholic women, a diocesan spiritual director, retreat director, and hopes to finish her own book on “The Delights of Aging” one day. She is a speaker on aging spirituality. “No matter how old one becomes, one can still learn,” she says.  •

Living Out the Love to Which Jesus Calls Us

by Mary Ellen Foley

How do you define love? No dictionary can capture the essence of love. The same is true of our understanding of words like justice, solidarity and compassion. Before I experienced JustFaith, my understanding of justice and my definition of solidarity were dictionary definitions. So inadequate! Such understandings must be formed in relationships. For me, solidarity and justice came to life through our small group sharing and the relationships we formed during the JustFaith program.

In this program, we reflected on the lives of those who hunger for justice, compassion and understanding. We struggled with our preconceived notions; we challenged conventional wisdom. We visited with people in need, “the least of these.” We began to view their situation through their eyes. Through these experiences we began to develop the compassion that Jesus wants us to have for the poor. And we learned how justice and charity, the two aspects of love in action, go hand in hand.

The JustFaith program explores the long-standing social doctrine of the Catholic Church. From the early church fathers right up until our present time, the church has expressed concern for the poor and the laws and social conditions that lead to poverty. Pope Leo XIII responded to the working conditions of the Industrial Revolution with his famous 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum. Since that time the popes of the 20th and 21st centuries have responded to the conditions of their times with major messages concerning social justice. It is now up to us, the people of God, to read, experience and reflect on the principles of justice proclaimed by the Church for the last 130 years.

St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport, will offer the JustFaith experience this coming fall and spring, on Thursday evenings, beginning September 19, and ending in April. This experience uses the adult learning model to help us fully understand the principles of justice that the Church holds dear. We dialogue as a faith-sharing community to deepen our faith and our solidarity with our neighbors. We will explore today’s issues and engage in dialogue around those issues in the light of Catholic social teaching. The program is open to anyone who would like to participate.

“Thirteen years ago I participated in the JustFaith program. The program was a great learning experience in Catholic Social Teaching. The program challenged me to become more active in my faith. It allowed me to form deeper friendships with the other participants. Since that experience we have all been involved in more actively living out the love to which Jesus calls us.”  – Fr. Mark Watson.

“In 2007, St. Joseph Church offered the JustFaith program to people in our community who were interested in learning more about social justice in a small community setting. When I joined, I had no idea how powerful this experience would be for me. I learned to view the world with new eyes, seeing it from the heart of those who were less fortunate than me, and responding in a new compassionate way to those who are different from me. The JustFaith experience was truly life changing.” – Jane Snyder

For more information, contact Mary Ellen Foley at, or 318-869-1120.  •