Category Archives: Local News

New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening


by Jane Snyder

The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler for this long awaited event.

In 1970, Fr. Murray Clayton brought Sr. Margaret McCaffrey to Shreveport. She rented an apartment in “The Bottoms” behind First United Methodist Church and realized that children were going to school hungry. Her mission to feed these children was the beginning of Christian Service.

Sr. Margaret grew the ministry through the 70s, 80s and 90s to serve those in our community who were living on the margins of our society, needing many different services. She fed thousands at the Hospitality House, provided clothing and emergency assistance, housed people recently released from prison, and housed women with children, repaired toys to give to children at Christmas, served volunteers at the Poor Man’s Supper and initiated the Christian Service Telethon.

Many think that Christian Service died when Sr. Margaret died in 1998, but that is not true. Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM, with the help of the Friars of St. John the Baptist, brought Brother Giovanni Reid to Shreveport in 1999, and since then the ministry has continued to serve 200 meals a day and provide clothing to many each month.

In 2013, Hope Connections, a collaboration of non-profits on Levy Street, whose goal is to end homelessness, asked Christian Service to become the food and clothing part of this amazing partnership. They offered to give Christian Service a 10,000 square foot building on their campus.

The Christian Service Board spent a year evaluating their ministry and chose to move forward taking the food, clothing and emergency assistance services to the new location.

In May of 2013, Christian Service hired Al Moore to be the new executive director and to take them through the process of fundraising and building the new facility.

The core mission of feeding the hungry has not changed, but the location to carry out the mission is changing. There is a need to address greater and greater numbers of people who are not only hungry, but homeless or on the brink of being homeless. Christian Service is moving to meet those needs.

Following 18 months of fundraising to renovate the 10,000 square foot warehouse, through the generous donations of many foundations and individuals, the groundbreaking for the new facility was held in September 2016.

The board of Christian Service looks forward to serving more clients at their new location.

They also hope to provide opportunities for more volunteers to be a part of the food and clothing ministries.

The board hopes that you will join them on September 27 at the new home of Christian Service at 2350 Levy Street in Shreveport at 1:00 p.m. to introduce this exciting new facility to the community.

Christian Service aims to help fulfill the request in Matthew 25 35:40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me


by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  This movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book, which tells the true story of Ron Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver Moore, a homeless drifter, and their life-changing relationship.

The movie features Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight, and it shows how serving others can change a heart, a marriage and a community.  The heartwarming story takes place in Fort Worth, with additional mentions of North Louisiana and East Texas.  Book clubs across the country have given the story a “thumbs up.”

The private showings are made possible by the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Meg Goorley, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s Executive Director, sees the private showings as opportunities to start a conversation for change in our community.

“Every day, Catholic Charities is helping people like Denver Moore,” says Goorley.  “We work together to give our clients education, assistance, and most of all, hope.  I feel that this movie will inspire people to ask, what more can they do to help?”

Please join Catholic Charities of North Louisiana in attending a showing in either Shreveport or Monroe.

In addition to the private showings, Catholic Charities is also providing information for book study groups who want to read the book prior to the movie release.  Details (date, time, location) for the showings can be found on the Catholic Charities’ website at  Tickets are available on a limited basis.  For more information, contact the CCNLA office at (318) 865-0200 or email at

2017-2018 Diocese of Shreveport Seminarians

Click the image below to download the PDF. Print it out, hang it on your refrigerator or somewhere else prominent and pray for these men. Consider sending them a letter of encouragement or a birthday card!

Northern Louisiana Vocations Inspired by Ruston Friars

by Br. Mike Ward, OFM

Br. Michael Ward, OFM, was the “vesting deacon” for Luke LaFleur’s transitional diaconate Mass held at Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria, LA, on May 25. Br. Mike was Luke’s spiritual director at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston and is the campus minister at the Catholic Student Center serving the students of Louisiana Tech University.

Luke graduated from Tech in 2012 with an engineering degree and entered the Josephium Pontifical College in Columbus, OH, three months after graduation. His priesthood ordination is scheduled for May 2018 at the Cathedral in Alexandria, LA.

Eight Tech grads attended the diaconate ceremony at Luke’s home parish.

Currently, three other Tech graduates are pursing priesthood ordination in the the dioceses of Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. All of these graduates started their journey with the friars at St. Thomas. Currently two young men at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center at St. Thomas in Ruston are interested in priesthood and two young women are interested in religious life. Daniel Mayer, a recent graduate from Tech will be entering the postulancy program this year for the Sacred Heart province. Fr. Frank Folino, OFM, pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas parish, was his spiritual director.

In recent years, the campus ministry program at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston has seen an increase in activity. Currently, about 70 students go to the Center daily and in 2016, the center was named one of the top 50 Catholic college ministry programs in the U.S. The students have organized themselves into a campus organization called ACTS (Association of Catholic Tech Students) and have activities at the Catholic Center every day or evening.

Governed by a servant leadership team of 30 students, ACTS’ motto is “Christ-Centered and Student Led” and the mission can be summed up by five words: Joy, Evangelization, Sacrament, Unity, Service. With such guidance the students make conscious effort in “Being Catholic at Louisiana Tech.”

Visit for more information.

St. John Berchmans Catholic School Welcomes Changes!


by Kelly Phelan Powell

With the advent of a new school year, St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport is undergoing some exciting changes. Former principal Jo Cazes retired this year after more than four decades working in education, and assistant principal Jennifer Deason, who is in the dissertation phase of a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Louisiana Tech, has transitioned into the leadership position at SJB. Trey Woodham, athletic director and middle school PE teacher, has assumed the assistant principal role.

There have been many cosmetic touches as well, but one change has teachers, parents and even students excited: SJB will offer Latin as part of its foreign language program for the 2017-18 school year.

“My vision for SJB is to continue to raise the bar, never settling for what we expect of ourselves or our students,” said Deason. “We would like to see growth in all of our learners across the board,” added Woodham. The new Latin curriculum is a major step toward those goals. Whitney Snead, current Latin teacher at Loyola College Prep, will give Latin instruction to SJB middle schoolers three times per week. Grades 3 through 5 will receive Latin instruction from Amy Vitacca, who also teaches middle school social studies.

“Embracing Latin at SJB makes perfect sense for our identity as a Catholic school with a rich curriculum in STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math). As the official language of the Church, Latin enhances our Catholicity. Latin root words are the foundation in science and the language of law, government and theology. [It] supports learning grammar in the English language [and] prepares students to learn other foreign languages,” Deason explained.

As nine-time Science Olympiad State Champions, SJB takes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) very seriously. Although retired, Cazes will continue to work with the Science Olympiad team. “She and I are very close, and I have encouraged her to find a happy balance as she transitions into retirement,” said Deason. “When she is missing us, the school routine or the smiles from the kids, then I want her to come to school. She still has so much to share!”

SJB has undergone a number of other improvements and updates over the summer. Some of these include new landscaping around the campus, handrails, new upholstery for the kneelers in the Cathedral and new scoreboards for the gym. The downstairs hallway has also been painted, lightening the space. “The library and technology center look beautiful,” said Deason, describing the murals and other artistic touches added to the 4100 square foot space. SJB has also redesigned its spirit wear and will be offering students new options for outerwear.

Woodham, who recently completed a 10-month Catholic Education Leadership Program through Loyola Marymount University, is ready and eager for his new role at SJB. “My main goal of the year is to support Jennifer [Deason] in any way I can to make sure this transition into new leadership is as smooth as possible. A lot of times, change makes people uncomfortable… I want to remind our students and parents that everything we do has purpose, and every decision we make is made with the best interest of our students, faculty and staff in mind. Another main goal of ours will be to expose our community to what a great school SJB is so we can increase and maintain a level of enrollment that our school is set up to support,” he said.

To that end, Ashley Timmons, Counselor and Marketing Director, has been working with a dedicated group of experienced volunteers to get the word out that SJB is an amazing learning environment with a strong Catholic Christian culture.

“Too often, people tell us they didn’t know about us,” said Deason. “We are working on getting our name out there and all the wonderful things that our school has to offer, but it is partially our fault – I find our school and families tend to be humbler, not needing or wanting too much extra attention for their good deeds or accomplishments. Fr. Peter Mangum [pastor of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans] said we just need to tell the truth, so we are trying to do so more often… Our Catholic faith is rich and evident in all that we do, our STREAM curriculum is strong and only getting better with the recent addition of Latin. Our school truly feels like a family.”

Encounter Jesus 3: Diocesan Youth Event Coming to Loyola

by Jessica Rinaudo

Encounter Jesus 3, the annual diocesan-wide youth event, will be held on Saturday, September 16 at Loyola College Prep in Shreveport! This annual gathering of high school and middle school youth and their adult leaders aims to kick off the school year the right way: with time to encounter Jesus and celebrate the gifts that young people are to the Church and the world.

This year’s event headliner is Doug Tooke, a national speaker who combines stories, humor and small group discussions to engage young Catholics in their faith. Encounter Jesus 3 will be an experience rich environment! Youth will encounter Jesus through a variety of means and opportunities on this day including scripture, prayer, sacraments, taking their faith into extracurricular activities, talking about family, relationships and evangelizing, as well as through games and time to talk and interact with Bishop Michael Duca.

“As our young Catholics begin their school year and their minds become occupied with school work, their friends and all the extracurricular activities that fill their lives, it is important to take time to refocus on Jesus and his place in our lives,” said Bishop Michael Duca. “Encounter Jesus 3 will help our young people to see Jesus’ work in their lives and give them the tools they need to overcome the challenges and obstacles they will face as they continue to grow and interact with the people in the world around them.”

Some of the breakout sessions for this year’s event include: “Taking Our Faith into Our Extracurricular Activities” with Father Rothell Price; “Relationships” with separate meetings for girls and boys with Roxanne and Matthew Chumley; Father Matthew Long’s conversion story and “Bonding with Bishop.” There will also be group games, time to see Loyola College Prep and meet the students who attend the school.

“Encounter Jesus is an opportunity for Catholics to come together and be with other Catholics their age,” said Interim Youth Director, Randy Tiller. “In a mission diocese, our youth can sometimes find it hard to connect with other Catholics. Coming together in this way not only gives our youth the opportunity to share in faith together, but it bolsters their confidence in living their Catholic faith.”

There will be separate tracks for high school and middle school youth appropriate to their age and development levels.  Both age groups will share in opening prayer, keynote talks, music and Mass with Bishop Duca together.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Middle School Students
High School Students
Youth Leaders
(Separate Breakouts for Each Age Group)

Loyola College Prep, Shreveport
September 16
Registration starts at 8:30AM

Contact your church’s youth minister, visit, or email Erin LeBrocq

Navigating the Faith: Spiritual Direction


by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

While our diocese does not have an abundance of lay spiritual directors, the number more than doubled in August as four more people completed two years of formation. Brenda Lites and Susan Tousignant, St. Jude in Benton;, Marie Rinaudo, Cathedral of St. John Berchmans; and Mike Van Vranken, St. Joseph in Shreveport, graduated from the Archdiocese of New Orleans Spirituality Center Formation Program on August 9, and are now certified spiritual directors. They join Joe and Katherine Bernal of St. Paschal in Monroe and Dianne Rachal of the Catholic Center.  These spiritual directors are trained in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, as retreat leaders, and in one-on-one spiritual direction.

What is Spiritual Direction?
Throughout the history of the Church there have always been men and women who listened to those wanting assistance with their prayer.  From the desert fathers and mothers of the 4th century, through numerous saints and founders of religious orders, mystics and confessors, the Church’s sacred tradition of spiritual direction has been nurtured and safeguarded, remaining a venerable and vital spiritual practice for many today.  Spiritual direction is concerned with helping a person directly with their relationship with God. Spiritual directors help people grow in their prayer life, nurture their relationship with God and enable one to become more attentive to God in daily life.  In nurturing one’s relationship with God, the most fundamental issue in that relationship is: “Who is God for me, and who am I for God?”

Spiritual direction is help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication, to respond to this communication, to grow in intimacy with God, and to live out the results of one’s relationship with God.  Spiritual direction has always aimed at fostering union with God.

What is Spiritual Direction Not?
Spiritual direction is not counseling – spiritual directors are not trained therapists, counselors or psychiatrists.  While spiritual direction can be a helpful adjunct if one is in therapy, it can never take the place of counseling or professional therapy.

Spiritual direction is not pastoral counseling provided by ordained priests and deacons, nor is it spiritual companioning where two people agree to meet and mutually support one another in their spiritual lives.

Who is Spiritual Direction For?
Everyone who is in a relationship with God would benefit from spiritual direction. Are you considering a major life change:  Vocation?  Marriage?  Career move?  Does God feel far way, even though you pray daily?  Do you feel that everyone else has a fulfilling prayer life, and that somehow you are missing out on something?  Are you troubled about the “worldliness” of your life, and concerned about the will of God for you?  Are you angry with God?  If any of these questions resonate with you, spiritual direction can help you draw closer to God and discern His will for you. A trained spiritual director helps one address God directly and listen to His response. Spiritual direction focuses on what happens when a person listens to and responds to a self-communicating God.

What is Spiritual Direction Like?
The spiritual director and the person agree to meet for a specified length of time, usually an hour, and  decide the frequency of meetings.  A spiritual director maintains complete confidentiality with respect to everything that transpires during the meeting. The person coming for spiritual direction communicates what is happening in their prayer life. Sometimes a spiritual director will give the person a scripture or spiritual writing to pray with and reflect on, and the person shares what surfaced during reflection. The spiritual director may suggest spiritual practices such as journaling, contemplation or lectio divina.

The spiritual director always listens intently, helping the person notice God’s presence, God’s movements, God’s will in the life of the person. The person coming for spiritual direction is open in sharing their prayer experiences with the spiritual director, and more importantly, open to receiving God’s communication. In spiritual direction, God is the director.

As Christians, we are a pilgrim people on a journey moving ever closer to eternal life, accompanied by Jesus Christ who shows us the way, and growing in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who is the love of God the Father.  Spiritual direction helps us develop and deepen our relationship with the Triune God.

For more on information contacting a spiritual director, attending an informational meeting about becoming a spiritual director or taking spiritual direction classes, see the sidebar.

Back to School Mass with Bishop Duca

Bishop Michael Duca greets the altar servers at the “Back to School Mass” at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.

“Let Your Light Shine” Annual Tech Students Retreat

More than 70 college students attended the annual Spring Retreat of the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS), the campus ministry program at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Ruston, led by Br. Michael Ward, OFM. The ACTS Spring Retreat is one of three retreats offered by the campus ministry program at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. The fall and winter retreats are preludes to the spring retreat — the largest of the three. The ACTS spring retreat is a shining example of the ACTS motto, “Christ-Centered and Student-Led.”

Two students leaders coordinated a team of 20 students, spending three months planning the retreat, tailoring it to the needs of attendees guided by a yearly theme. This year, the theme was “Let Your Light Shine.” The student-led weekend is carefully choreographed with skits, talks, activities, prayer, reflection time and, of course, meals. The Women’s Guild of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish supplied the snacks for the weekend, and the Men’s Club hosted a fish fry for the retreatants on Saturday evening.

Typically, ACTS invites speakers to address the college students. This year, the students invited Fr. Ryan Humphries from St. Edward the Confessor Church in Tallulah, and Pam and Roland Allen who are parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. Pam is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind and Roland is the Cane Travel Instructor for the center. The “senior talk” of the weekend was given by Seth Louviere who encouraged the ACTS members to stay strong in their faith during college. The spring retreat “officially” ended with the celebration of a 7:00 p.m. Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. Thanks to Fr. Pat Madden and Fr. Joe Martina who assisted the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, Fr. Frank Folino, ofm, in offering the sacrament of reconciliation.

Sacred Heart in Rayville Celebrates Sacred Heart of Jesus Over Four Days

Each year, Sacred Heart Parish in Rayville celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This year the church was honored to have Bishop Michael Duca and several priests from surrounding parishes join together in a four day celebration.

On Tuesday, June 20, Fr. Joseph Puthuppally celebrated Mass and presented a homily, the theme of which was “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  On successive evenings, Fr. James Moran, CO celebrated Mass and presented a homily entitled, “Do not perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Fr. Job Edathinatt of St. Lawrence Church in Swartz celebrated Mass and presented a homily entitled, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans.”

On Friday, June 23, in celebration of the feast day, Bishop Duca joined Pastor, Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, Fr. James Dominic, Fr. Biju Kuriakose, CMI, and Fr. Moran, CO in concelebrating Mass. Bishop Duca gave an inspiring homily, the theme of which was “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.”

The Mass highlighted a four-day celebration which joined several priests in surrounding parishes.

The ladies and men of Sacred Heart Parish prepared meals each evening, and an enthusiastic group of parishioners attended the spiritual and uplifting celebrations.

Pictured: Celebrating the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 23, at Sacred Heart Parish in Rayville, were (left to right), Fr. James Dominic, Fr. Biju Kuriakose, CMI,  Bishop Michael Duca, Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, and Fr. James Moran, CO.