Category Archives: Local News

Fidel Mondragon’s Ordination

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by Jessica Rinaudo

Before Fidel Mondragon landed in the Diocese of Shreveport, he spent many years in various seminaries, countries and a religious order, discerning the vocation God had planned for his life. After being a seminarian for the Diocese of Dallas, which downsized their foreign vocations, Fidel returned to Mexico before becoming a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport. That was two years ago.

And Fidel has made the most out of his two years as a seminarian for our diocese. He first went to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans where he took review classes on the sacraments and history of the Church, as well as English as a Second Language. He relished this time both for improving his English and for getting to know his brother seminarians of our diocese. Of them Fidel said,  “I got to know them, because once a month we would have dinner together – we would talk about how things were going.”

After finishing his seminary classes in May of last year, Fidel moved to Mansfield, where he assisted Fr. Matthew Long in parish life.
“When I arrived in Mansfield, I got involved with the community,” said Fidel. “I helped the Hispanic and Anglo communities… I started a new program – Christian Formation for Adults and Bible classes with Hispanics on Tuesdays. I visited people, I prayed the rosary with them. I helped Fr. Matthew with the Masses.”

During this time he also taught adult formation classes and assisted with retreats at St. Mary of the Pines in Shreveport, and Christ the King in Bossier City. His formation classes expanded to St. Thomas Aquinas in Ruston and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Farmerville, allowing Fidel to become acquainted with people across the diocese.

It was during this time that Fidel organized a Year of Mercy event for the Hispanic community.

“Rosalba Quiroz [Hispanic Ministry Director] asked me to organize the visit to the Holy Door with the Hispanic Community because it was the Year of Mercy. We invited all of the diocese. … We organized a Stations of the Cross and did them in the Cathedral. After that, we explained the Year of Mercy, the meaning of mercy and why Pope Francis convoked the Year of Mercy. Then we had a holy hour with Fr. Rigo Betancurt, Fr. Al Jost and Fr. Blane O’Neill.  Bishop Duca was there, too,” said Fidel.

On December 10, 2016, Fidel was ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Mary of the Pines, and a month later Bishop Duca assigned him to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, also serving St. Mary of the Pines two days a week. He still continues in this assignment.

“In the Cathedral I help with the everyday Mass and I have helped two times with the homily in English,” said Fidel “I help with the funerals, with the school Masses.”

After two years, Fidel has adjusted from life in Mexico to life in north Louisiana, and embraces his vocation here with open arms. The people and clergy, in turn, have welcomed him warmly.

“I am so grateful for Bishop Duca and all the priests here. They are very kind to me and welcome me. They tell me, ‘Fidel you are welcome. We are very glad to have you.’ They encourage me,” said Fidel.

“I feel comfortable here, I feel welcome in both communities. The Spanish community, ok they love you, but the Anglo community is very warm and they receive me,” added Fidel.

“I want to be part of this diocese, to consecrate my life as a priest,” he said.

And after so many years of discerning and traveling, Fidel is excited to finally be approaching his ordination to the priesthood and his ministry as a Catholic priest.

“I look forward to helping the people. I want to be the person who can manifest this mercy of God, this love of God and help the people be close to Christ. Because I talk with the people… they need somebody to hear them. I know my priest ordination is close, but this is when my work will begin,” said Fidel.
He added, “I remember my instructors in the seminary said, ‘This is not your goal to be a priest. The goal is first, your salvation.’ Following this vocation, I want to be with God, but I want many people, through me to be saved, too. They will hear the Word of God. I can give the Body of Christ. I can forgive sins, it is not me, but I can be this instrument. … This is what I want most for the people: to be this instrument to manifest the mercy of God, the love of God and drive them to Christ.”

As he reflected back on his long journey to the priesthood, Fidel shared stories of his time in seminary. One in particular reflected his vocational path.
“Sometimes when I was walking in the seminary, I would say, ‘I have this class and it is very difficult. And I will have a presentation tomorrow and the priest, he is tough.’ But I did my presentation, and when I finished I felt very good. I said, ‘This is not me on my own. Many people are praying for me, for my vocation. My family, my friends, the people around the world are praying for the seminarians, for the priests. … And after this difficult presentation I went to the chapel and I said, ‘Thank you God. For you are behind me, you sustain me. And I want to continue – because if you continue calling me, I want to continue answering you.’”

Fidel’s ordination to the priesthood will be Saturday, June 10, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Bishop Michael Duca will ordain Fidel as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport. All members of the faithful are encouraged to attend.

“As a diocese, we are fortunate that Fidel’s journey has brought him to us so that he can serve the wonderful people of our region,” said Bishop Duca.  “I am anxious for our local Church to benefit from his ministry as an ordained priest and I believe he has so much to offer to our entire faith community.”

Help Collect Socks for Prison Ministry

by Mary Morgan, Prison Minister

Our feet are very important to us and just like Dr. Seuss wrote, “they all look different: little feet, big feet, long feet, short feet, white, brown, black or yellow feet.” Feet are everywhere and God loves them all. Jesus did a lot of walking and talking about them. He let a woman wash his feet and was pleased when she anointed them. At the Last Supper he washed the apostles’ feet.

Why am I writing about feet? Because I have discovered a need. Back in the early 90’s a mother in my parish was making visits to see her son in the parish jail. I felt in my heart the phrase, “Offer to go with her.” What began as a message from the Holy Spirit eventually turned into a calling to assist in Prison Ministry, and those heart messages have never stopped coming. Since that time I have visited many correctional centers and written many letters to prisoners.

Today, I have this dream to tell you about – a Christmas starting in July dream. On one of my weekly visits to the Bossier Max facility, I noticed the worn out white socks on most of the prisoners’ feet. When they arrive, they must give up everything they come in with (even socks). They are given a striped top and pants and a slipper type pair of shoes. If someone arrives without any funds to purchase socks, they depend on other inmates to share any extras. The floors are concrete and cold, and they only get a small sleeping blanket.

I am working to give a new pair of socks to each person in the facility for Christmas. In Bossier that is about 1,400 individuals. If we as the Catholic Church could collect 1,400 pairs of socks, we would have enough for all of these prisoners.

Someone will thank you from the “bottom of their feet” one day if you help with this endeavor.

Churches and groups wanting to donate men’s socks should contact Mary Morgan at 318-742-3774.

Catholic Charities Presents Bingo on the Bayou

by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities’ popular fundraiser, “Bingo on the Bayou,” is returning this year on Saturday, August 19th.  After selling out last year’s event, “Bingo on the Bayou” will move to East Ridge Country Club in order to accommodate more people.  In addition to seven games of bingo, the fundraiser will include dinner and a silent auction.

Local priests from around the diocese will once again serve as bingo callers for the event with prizes being gift certificates to upscale local restaurants.
All proceeds from “Bingo on the Bayou” will benefit the programs of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana including financial education, emergency assistance, healthy eating classes, parenting programs and assistance for low-income mothers, and immigration services.

Individual tickets are $50 each with table sponsor levels of $750, $1000, and $1500.  Dress is casual and the event is open to guests 21 years and older.
If you are interested in serving on the event committee, please contact Lucy Medvec at lmedvec@ccnla.org.  For sponsorship information or to order tickets, please contact the Catholic Charities office at 318-865-0200 ext. 101.

Plans for SVdP Banquet Underway

Presentation at the 2016 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet, "Not Too Far From Here."

by Jim Beadles, Vice President of Diocesan Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Blessings come in many diverse packages. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is no exception.  As a mission, more than 275 local Vincentians provide services such as rent and utility assistance, furniture, food and pharmacy services. The entire organization consists of volunteers.  There is no paid staff or overhead, and virtually every dollar raised goes to help those in need.  In 2016, local Vincentians conducted more than 2,400 in-home visits, and helped more than 12,000 of our neighbors.

All of our resources come from the generosity of the community, and we are grateful for the gifts that sustain our ministry.  Our primary fundraiser each year is the St. Vincent de Paul Annual Banquet, which will be held this year on September 12 at the Bossier Civic Center.

To say we were blessed by being a part of the 2016 banquet would be a gross understatement.  The theme of last year was based on the song, “Not Too Far From Here.” That song has a strong message that regardless of where you are, you do not have to look very far to find someone waiting for you to be the face of Christ in their life.

We had two incredible speakers:  Bishop Lawrence Brandon from Praise Temple, and Dr. Pat Day from First United Methodist  And, if that was not enough, the Centenary Choir performed several songs, including the theme song, leaving most of us speechless and inspired.

The success of the 2016 Banquet set the bar high for 2017.  We heard from so many people about how much they enjoyed the program, as well as from many who were unable to attend but heard about it, that we decided to present the “Not Too Far From Here…Encore” for the 2017 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet.
This year, we have as speakers Andrew Randall from Abounding Faith Temple, and Dr. Brad Jurkovich from First Bossier.  Having speakers from other faiths is important, as we understand that no one faith or group can create the systemic change needed to truly make a difference in the lives of those we serve.
The Centenary Choir will also make a return appearance!  Please join us on September 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bossier Civic Center.  Tickets will go on sale soon. Look for more information in your bulletins and online at our website www.svdpshreveport.org, or on Facebook at St. Vincent de Paul Shreveport.
On behalf of all Vincentians, I want to thank Bishop Duca for the continued blessing of his support.  It is sincerely appreciated.  See you in September! •

New Priest Assignments Across the Diocese

Priest New Assignment Effective Date
Fr. Jerry Daigle Pastoral Administrator, St. Clement, Vivian June 1, 2017, until a pastor is named
Fr. Karl Daigle Pastor, St. Jude, Benton June 1, 2017
Fr. Mark Franklin Pastor, St. Matthew, Monroe July 1, 2017
Fr. Keith Garvin Relieved as Pastoral Administrator, St. Matthew, Monroe
(Will continue as pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd)
July 1, 2017
Fr. Charles Glorioso Holy Angels Masses May 3, 2017
Fr. Tim Hurd Pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Shreveport September 1, 2017
Fr. Joseph Kallookalam, CMI Pastor, St. Patrick, Lake Providence & Sacred Heart, Oak Grove July 1, 2017
Fr. Matthew Long Pastor, St. Joseph, Shreveport July 1, 2017
Fr. Joseph Martina Pastor, St. Pius X, Shreveport July 1, 2017
Fr. James McLelland Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. Philip Michiels Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. James Moran, CO St. Joseph, Mansfield & St. Ann, Stonewall July 1, 2017
Fr. Richard Norsworthy Pastor, St. Joseph, Zwolle July 1, 2017
Fr. Rothell Price Pastoral Administrator, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Shreveport June 1 – August 29, 2017
Fr. Lijo Thomas, CMI Pastoral Administrator, Our Lady of Fatima, Monroe
(In addition to current assignment as Pastor, St. Joseph, Bastrop)
July 1 – October 31, 2017
Fr. Pike Thomas Retired June 1, 2017
Fr. Mark Watson Pastor, Christ the King, Bossier City July 1, 2017
Fr. Biju Kurakose, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival
Fr. Joseph Kuzichalil, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival
Fr. Paul Thundurparampil, CMI To be assigned upon summer arrival

Thank You for Strong Appeal Performance!

by John Mark Willcox

The 2017 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal is three quarters of the way home with the following churches achieving pledge goal and locations at or above our overall diocesan percentage of pledge goal (74%) for this year:

Pledge Goal or Higher:
• St. Mary of the Pines – Shreveport
• Mary, Queen of Peace – Bossier City
• St. Ann – Ebarb
• St. Lawrence – Swartz
• St. Margaret – Homer
• St. Terence – Toledo Bend

At or Above Diocesan Percentage of Pledge Goal:
• Cathedral of St. John Berchmans – Shreveport
• St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – Shreveport
• St. Jude – Benton
• Jesus the Good Shepherd – Monroe
• Holy Trinity – Shreveport
• St. Joseph – Zwolle
• St. Joseph – Mansfield
• St. Paschal – West Monroe
• St. John the Baptist – Many
• Sacred Heart – Shreveport
• Sacred Heart – Rayville
• St. Patrick – Lake Providence
• St. Clement – Vivian
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Farmerville
• St. George – Coushatta
• St. Theresa – Delhi
• St. Joseph – Bastrop
• Sacred Heart – Oak Grove

Bishop Duca thanks all our worship locations and the faithful throughout the diocese who have contributed to this year’s Appeal campaign. If you have yet to participate, your help is needed! Our goal is $1.5 million and the Church counts on your support to provide for the people of our diocese.  You can participate by using the 2017 Appeal pledge card found on page 30 of this issue. May God bless you for your generosity!  •

Join Us for Summer Catholic Camps for Teens!

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Dear Parents,

As parents of teenagers, you want the very best for your children. As faithful Catholics, you want them to grow closer to the Church in their teen years, not drift away from it. You want them to discover their true vocations in life, whatever they may be. Most of all, you want your child to be happy – to be well educated, well rounded and well loved.

I want those things for your children, too. And not just for your kids, but for every teenager in our diocese. That’s essentially why we created the Mission Possible and Beloved summer camps. Over the past six years, I’ve seen firsthand what these camps do for our Catholic teens. Time and again, I’ve seen the proverbial “light bulb” go off, not just in their heads, but in their hearts.

In a very real way, our annual Summer Camps help “launch” teens into life. The camps are a springboard for becoming strong men and women who love Jesus and the Church, and are open to God’s will in their lives.

As I look back on my young adulthood, I can pinpoint key moments when I made choices for good – choices for God. For me, these moments began in my teens and continued in my twenties. I can say with sincerity that I wish I would have attended a camp like the ones offered by our diocese.

So I want to encourage you in the strongest possible language: please seriously consider registering your child for Beloved (July 13-16) or Mission Possible (July 16-19). Yes, the campers are going to have a blast. Yes, they are going to come home tired and happy. But most all, they are going to return home with a renewed love for Jesus. That, of course, is what matters most in life.

May the Lord bless you and your family in this Easter Season!

In Christ through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Matthew Long

Diocese Focuses on Family Life Through Media and Catechetical Fair

by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis

Remember that song by Sister Sledge?  “We are family, I got all my sisters with me!”?   The Catholic Church sees family as much larger, in fact Pope Francis says that the parish/church is the “family of families,” so in essence everyone who belongs to a parish/church is a family member (single, divorced, widowed, married, child, teen, etc.)  In fact in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis wrote, “There is no stereotype of the ideal family but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems.” (57)  As a single person who has spent most of my adult life in states other than my biological family, I embrace the quote, “Friends are the family we choose.”

The beauty of family life in the 20th century is the ability to connect in a variety of ways. Someone who lives far away can connect not just through calls and texts, but visually through social media. Yet even with all these ways to connect, there is nothing that can replace the actual in person, face-to-face encounter. The Church recognizes the importance of that live encounter:  think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – it must happen in person so that there is a physical as well as spiritual connection with our Forgiving Father.  In fact all of our Sacraments must happen “live and in person.”

As family, what can we learn from this centuries-old wisdom? We can learn that in our often over-scheduled lives, we must schedule time for the live, face-to-face encounters with those we love. We can learn that like the sacraments, family time is sacred and must be protected.  We can learn that food is central to our socialization as family. We can learn that celebrations are important! We can learn that through family we experience God’s love and mercy in the context of relationships.

The Catholic Church, in her wisdom, is spending more time learning from and reflecting on families (both biological and chosen).  The World Meeting of Families last August is a perfect example.

The Office of Catechesis is also learning more about and reflecting on family life. One of the first steps for families to connect is meal time: intentional, everyone together, cell phones down, eating together.

You may have noticed and followed the Lenten Tuesdays Fast and Feasting Family Style on our app, Facebook page and in bulletins, which offered a simple question for families to talk about together.  We are continuing the Tuesday ritual with Jesus Table Talk.  Each Tuesday morning a new question is offered through the Diocesan App, CatholicConnections, our Facebook page and in church bulletins.

The questions are easy, and yet challenging: “What was the weirdest thing you said today?” “King David, of the Old Testament wrote most of Psalms, which were sung!  David loved joyful, lively music.  He was known to leap and dance for the Lord!  What song was stuck in your head today?’  The goal of Jesus Table Talk is to help start conversations that are out of the ordinary and can be discussed with anyone!

In addition to Jesus Table Talk, the annual Catechetical Fair will focus on how catechists can engage parents in the formation of their children. We will also begin offering more seminars on parenting and grand-parenting; what you should know about social media and your teen; and communication.

The Holy Family is our model for family life. And before you think, “Well, they were the Holy Family – we can’t compete,” remember they had their share of burdens: Mary was an unwed pregnant teen; Joseph was an older man; they had to travel on a donkey; the Child was born poor; the babe’s life was threatened; the Child got lost; the list goes on and on.  They struggled.  But as Pope Francis said, “Families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity” (Amoris Laetitia, 7).

Join the diocese in growing confident Catholic families through Facebook, the CathConnects App and the Diocesan Family Faith webpage:  http://www.dioshpt.org/ministries/catechesis/family-faith/ where you will find amazing resources for parenting, single parents, divorced/separated and much more.  New resources are being added weekly.  •

Relgious Education Gets Boost at Our Lady of Fatima

Left to right: Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, Superintendent; Fr. Joe Martina, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish; Dr. Carynn Wiggins, Principal; Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis; Jamie Humphrey, Religion Teacher

by Bonny Van

During the school year, Wednesday morning Mass for students at Our Lady of Fatima School in Monroe is much more than just a time to celebrate the Eucharist.  It’s also much more than time spent in prayer, listening to scripture or taking a break from class work.  For the majority of the 200 students, it’s the only chance they have to experience God.

“So many of our students are un-churched, except through the school,” said principal Dr. Carynn Wiggins.  That is why a $5,000 grant from the Black and Indian Missions has been such a blessing.

Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Shreveport, applied for the grant a year ago after a visit to Fatima School opened her eyes to the lack of religious material available for teaching.

“Ninety-five percent of the students are funded by state tuition and zero funds from the state can be used for religious material,” she said.  “I was really saddened by this and Jamie, the religion teacher, told me that many of the children had never heard about God.”

Jamie Humphrey has been the religion teacher at the school for the past 12 years.  Teaching without books and other student materials has been challenging.
“We’re trying to teach them about the Gospel and instill good moral values,” she said.

Bole says the grant, awarded just before Christmas, was a great Christmas present.

“I said let’s dream big, what do you need?”

First on the list were books.  Bole contacted a representative from Sadlier Publishing Company, which donated 20 books.  Grant money was used to buy the rest.

Money from the grant has also been used to purchase a laptop and a rolling cart so that Humphrey can move to different classrooms.

“We’ve also used the money to buy a DVD set that covers the basics of our faith and Elmo clickers which allow the kids to answer questions remotely with the SMART board,” said Bole.

“We’ve also bought portable batteries and a keyboard for Jamie, and we still have $1500 left!  We’ve been able to do so much more than we imagined.  We’re going to hold off until the fall to see what they need,” she said.

Humphrey said the materials have made a big impact already.

Some of the religious resources purchased for Our Lady of Fatima School with the aid of a Black and Indian Missions grant.

“The children are more organized and we are back on track with our catechism,” she said.  “If not for us, most of them would not know about God.”
“This really does make a difference in the lives of these children,” says Dr. Wiggins.  “I tell people all the time, you don’t have to cross an ocean to have a mission field, you simply have to cross a parking lot.”

Our Lady of Fatima Plenary Indulgence

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by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

On Saturday, May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis declared canonized saints, Jacinta and Francesco Marto, two of the three shepherd children to whom Our Lady appeared. A one-year Jubilee began on November 27, 2016, the First Sunday of Advent, and will continue until November 26, 2017.  The Apostolic Penitentiary has granted a plenary indulgence for the centennial anniversary of the Fatima apparitions.  “The plenary indulgence of the jubilee is granted: to pious faithful who visit with devotion an image of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly displayed for public veneration in any temple, oratory or adequate place, during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions (the 13th of each month, from May to October 2017), and devotedly participate there in any celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary, pray the Our Father, recite the Symbol of Faith (Creed) and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.”

“To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful, truly penitent and animated with charity, must fulfill the following conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.”

The parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport with images of Our Lady of Fatima for veneration at the time of this publication are:
• Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Shreveport
• Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Bossier City
• St. Jude Parish, Benton
• St. Patrick Parish, Lake Providence
• Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Monroe

O God, who chose the Mother of your Son to be our Mother also,
Grant us that, persevering in penance and prayer
For the salvation of the world,
We may further more effectively each day the reign of Christ.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.