Category Archives: Local News

A Message from Bishop Duca

Appeal Sunday occurred on February 26th; and thanks to the generous support of our faithful, we are off to a good start on this year’s campaign.  If you have provided your pledge to this year’s Appeal, you have my sincere appreciation. Thank you and God bless you for your support.

Please know that we still have a long way to go before we reach our pledge goal of $1,500,000.  The month of April is a critical time each year for our Appeal, as follow-up efforts are taking place in each worship location to secure additional pledges to this combined effort to serve the needs of the people of our diocese.  Please take some time now to consider your pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 30, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal.  Those making pledges this month will receive their first Appeal statement in the month of May.

Good Friday Way of the Cross


19th Walk for Justice

by Brian Burgess

As Americans we are called to stand with justice, yet it is not often that we have the opportunity as an individual to make a clear and decisive public statement in support of this essential virtue.  This Good Friday, April 14, you have such an opportunity!  We invite you to join others throughout Shreveport in proclaiming justice and mercy in a very public forum by a special “Way of the Cross” that seeks to unite the suffering of Christ with the suffering that exists in the world today.

This Good Friday remembrance will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church on Texas Street in downtown Shreveport.  Local social justice and service organizations will offer prayers, hymns and reflections at each of the 14 stations. Participants will walk a little more than a mile through downtown Shreveport while stopping at various sites (stations).  This annual devotion focuses on the passion of Christ as reflected in the eyes of those who suffer abandonment, abuse, illness and poverty – those in need we are called to serve.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the sponsoring group. Those interested in attending this ecumenical service should gather by 9:00 a.m. on Good Friday in the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church. The service will last approximately an hour and 40 minutes and ample parking is available at the church.

A Reflection on the Memory of Father Bernadine Hahn

by Kathy Lenard

I am blessed to have known Fr. Bernadine Hahn. He instructed and mentored me at a crucial time in my life. We developed a bond, a truly treasured friendship, for which I am forever grateful.

Fr. Bernadine was the priest at Our Lady Help of Christians (OLHC) in Bastrop, LA for more than 20 years. He was the principal at the school, father, teacher, mentor and friend to everyone he met. Fr. Bernadine could always be found helping the less fortunate, trying to make the quality of life better for everyone at the church and school, as well as in the community which surrounded the church and school. I served as President of the PTO and treasurer of the Sisters of the Holy Family under his tenure.

Fr. Bernadine is the reason I became Catholic, and the reason my husband and children became Catholic. He seemed to always be there for his parishioners and students. He would appear around the city of Bastrop, blessing homes, counseling, assisting and enjoying a day fishing. My fondest memory of Fr. Bernadine is of him being adamant about building a new church. He pioneered the construction of the new OLHC church and subsequently the Father Pat Memorial Gymnasium during his tenure in Bastrop. However, his accomplishments were significant in every community he served. He accomplished many good deeds during his time on earth.

When his time ended in Bastrop, he packed his things, and with all of us in his heart, he moved to St. Louis. However, we never lost touch with each other. During the time he was still driving he would visit Bastrop, rekindling friendships and memories of old. Even though his visit was for pleasure, he spent his time blessing homes. He never missed an opportunity to bless a home, item or grave. That’s the type of priest that he was, faithful and faith-filled. “Father B” was a wonderful person who will always have a special place in my heart and those of many individuals in the Bastrop community.

Fr. Bernadine lived to be 101 years old. I had the opportunity to visit him the year he turned 100. My current pastor, Fr. Lijo Thomas, had heard so much about him that he wanted to meet him in person. A group of us visited St. Louis. What a wonderful trip and experience it was to be with Father B again. He said Mass for us and accompanied us to our site-seeing excursions. We had lunch and dinner with him and shared photos of his time in Bastrop.

Fr. Bernadine entered the Franciscan Order in 1936 and was ordained a priest in 1943. He was a Franciscan for 80 years and a priest for 74 years! All of us in Bastrop mourn the loss of Fr. Bernadine Hahn.

Fr. Lijo Thomas, Fr. Al Jost, OFM and Fr. Thomas Elavumkal, CMI presided over a Memorial Mass celebrated for Fr. Bernadine Hahn at St. Joseph Parish, Bastrop on February 15.

Divine Mercy Sunday Activies

by Julia Doolin

The first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy.  This year, that date falls on April 23.  The devotion to the Divine Mercy began spreading throughout the world in the 1930’s and is based upon private revelations to a young Polish nun, now known as St. Faustina.  The message is not a new one, but is instead a reminder of what the Church has always taught through Scripture and tradition:  That God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness.  But the message of the Divine Mercy devotion calls people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone – especially the greatest sinners.   In a decree dated May 23, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.”  Taking the declaration of the feast day a step further, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced on August 3, 2002, that in order “to ensure that the faithful would observe Divine Mercy Sunday with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence…so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit.”

With regard to the plenary indulgence associated with Divine Mercy Sunday, the usual conditions apply: sacramental confession (typically several days before or after the indulgenced act), Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff. The faithful are asked to gather in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)

This year, two parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport are providing an entire weekend of Divine Mercy events. On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Fr. Michael Gaitley of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, will present a Divine Mercy Retreat at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. Register for the retreat at  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered at the end of the retreat.  In preparation for the retreat, it is recommended that participants read the book 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

On Sunday, April 23, St. Joseph Church, located at 211 Atlantic Avenue in Shreveport, will host a holy hour in honor of Divine Mercy Sunday.  The holy hour will begin promptly at 2:30 p.m. and will include the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as well as veneration of the Divine Mercy image.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available immediately following the holy hour.  •

Desire to Serve Brings New Employee to Catholic Charities

by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana welcomes a new member to its staff with the hiring of Joe Bulger as case manager. Joe will be working with Carl Piehl, CCNLA Financial Education and Emergency Assistance Director, to assist clients in the areas of financial education and coaching, emergency assistance, enrollment of state benefits and share teaching duties of the weekly Money School financial education class.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Joe first came to Shreveport on a youth mission trip with the People of Praise organization. He spent two weeks building houses and working a summer camp in the Allendale-Lakeside neighborhood. The People of Praise is a community where Christians from diverse church backgrounds can share life, work, prayer and mission while still maintaining active membership in their local congregations. After graduation, he took two years off to do missionary work in Indianapolis and Evansville, IN, while returning to Shreveport in the summer to help with the camps and assist with renovating houses.

In 2014, Joe moved to Shreveport for good and currently lives in Allendale-Lakeside with other People of Praise members. He worked alongside other missionaries to consult and interview residents of the Lakeside community regarding the formation of a neighborhood school. After knocking on almost 300 doors and speaking with residents of 223 homes, it was determined that the support was there to open Praise Academy in 2015, with an initial enrollment of eight students. Currently there are 13 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 6th.  The school will eventually serve students through the 8th grade.

When asked why he moved to Shreveport in 2014, Joe explains “It was the people I encountered here during previous trips and the good friends I made on the mission team that made me want to live in Shreveport.”

He enjoys living in the Allendale-Lakeside area because he feels a sense of community there where people know and help each other.
As case manager for Catholic Charities, Joe looks forward to helping people, especially when it comes to bringing a sense of order to their lives. Through the Money School and financial education coaching sessions, he wants to help clients navigate the systems that are in place in order to take control of their lives. Overall, he wants to bring hope and confidence to the people who come to Catholic Charities for assistance.

Joe is a member of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans where he also sings in the choir every Sunday. Catholic Charities is blessed to welcome him as a member of the team!

Volunteers Care for Orphans Through Pick It Forward


by Jamie Jett

Pick It Forward (PIF) for Orphans is a small nonprofit organization that has accepted the challenge to do what they can for orphaned and foster children on behalf of the service of Christ. The support of many has allowed them to be the heart, hands, feet and voice for God’s children at multiple orphanages and many in the Louisiana foster care system.  In particular, God called them to put significant time, effort and love into Trisker Orphanage – an orphanage out in the middle of a field in Boquete, Panama. Last year, after resources became available through a variety of fundraising events, Pick It Forward hired Kathy Gaitan to serve as their sponsored missionary.

In spring 2016, the PIF leadership felt led to plan for its first mission team to travel to Panama. Over the years, several board members went on trips to Panama with other church groups, helping out where needed. However, in March 2016, the group felt it was time to go!  In June, a few board members traveled to Boquete, Panama to begin the plans for the first PIF mission trip, scheduled for February 2017.

PIF members had some ideas of what they might do during our first official mission trip in 2017, but quickly, within two days of their arrival in June 2016, the Holy Spirit changed their vision for the trip. He aligned the leadership at Trisker Orphanage, Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and Pick It Forward with the shared vision to build and equip a classroom at Trisker!  That is a tall order for a board of 10 women, but each of them knows God is capable of making it happen if they step out in faith!

The classroom will give hope to these young girls. It will provide space for sewing machines, a kitchen, a small library and a small area with computers. Christ wants a way to touch these girls so that they can provide for themselves when they leave Trisker Orphanage. If they can learn to read and write, sew, cook, speak English or learn computer skills, they will be better prepared to find work and not be just released from Trisker Orphanage at 18 years of age, unprepared with no hope of a future.

So, God through the Body of Christ raised enough money in five months to build and equip the classroom!  Pick It Forward set off on February 4, 2017 with a three ring binder, 20 missionaries and suitcases full of supplies on its first ecumenical mission trip to Boquete, Panama. The team was made up of missionaries from St. Jude Catholic Church, Word of Life, Word of God, First Baptist in Haughton and the Simple Church.

There were three goals for the team to accomplish in five days:

1. Build a classroom at Trisker Orphanage. 2. Provide a summer Vacation Bible School camp for the children as the classroom was being built, and 3. Take blankets, hats, gloves, stuffed animals and dental hygiene items to the Ngobe people.

This team was unique. There were members from all age groups – teens to 60’s – with a multitude of gifts to share, including two Spanish-speaking members!  The team worked hard and met every goal God assigned to them.

“He supplied us with outcomes above and beyond what we could have imagined,” said founder Jamie Jett.  “A special thank you to Father Pike Thomas, who was the team member who participated in every way despite being unable to attend. His prayers and support helped make the team effort the best it could be.”

Catholic Community Volunteers Resources to Help Flood Victim


by Bonny Van

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the skies opened up on North Louisiana.  “It rained a long time,” says 89-year-old Shreveport resident Lizzie Harris. “And, I heard it in my back bedroom when all the sheet rock had come down.” That’s when she knew her aging roof was no match for the deluge.

By the weekend, the National Weather Service in Shreveport reported over 20 inches of rain in some areas.

“It started to leak in the bedroom and in the kitchen and then in another bedroom,” Harris says. “Every time it rained, I put out buckets and pans to catch the water.”

Harris and her husband moved into her small bungalow when it was built in 1959. “We had a new roof put on in 1983, but after my husband passed, I couldn’t afford a new one.”

Like many residents who suffered damages from the flooding, Mrs. Harris qualified for disaster assistance from FEMA.  Jean Woods, Disaster Case Manager for St. Vincent de Paul, was assigned Mrs. Harris’ case. “The wind and rain had caused a lot of damage to the shingles on her roof,” says Woods.

Harris outside her home

So, Woods began calling roofers to get a bid on the work. “The cost, with labor and materials, was $3,600 and it was more money than they could come up with,” says Jay Murrell, owner of Pintail Roofing in Shreveport.  “So, I sent two workers to lay tarps on the roof to keep the rain out, but that only lasted for two-and-a-half months.”  But, Murrell could not stop thinking about Mrs. Harris and her situation.

“I’ve been broke before and had a leaky roof.  Every time it rained I was scared, so I empathized with her,” says Murrell.  “Sometimes, the Holy Spirit comes to me in different places and I just felt moved to do something for Mrs. Harris.”

Murrell contacted a fellow roofer, who was able to get the shingles donated.  Together, they shared the cost of labor and other materials to get the job done.   “Now, Mrs. Harris has the best roof in the neighborhood!”  However, there was still more work to be done.

“When Jay repaired the roof, we went into the backyard to take pictures and saw a tree had fallen in the yard,” says Woods.  That’s when the wrestling team from Loyola College Prep jumped in to help.

The team practices at St. Catherine Community Center, where the office of the SVDP Disaster Services Division is located.  I asked Ms. Woods if we could help them in any way so she told us about Mrs. Harris,” says Loyola wrestling coach Darrick Roberson.  “Wherever we can get involved in the community, we do.”

It took one Saturday afternoon for students Reese Ebarb, Eli Poole, Alan Hedrick and Jonathan Durel and Coach Roberson to cut up the tree and remove other debris from the backyard. “There were also leaves piling up, so the kids raked and bagged up the leaves and hauled it out,” says Roberson.

Roofer Jay Murrell volunteered his services to give Mrs. Harris a new roof.

Still, the work continues for Mrs. Harris.  “I just helped her fill out an application with FEMA to get funds to repair a leak under her house,” says Woods.  “She needs foundation work and more work inside to clean up the damage from the flooding.”

For many residents, the aftermath and the cleanup of the March 2016 flood has been a life changing experience; and, for some, in very unexpected ways.  Coach Darrick Roberson also plans to continue his team building with more community service projects.  “They loved it!  We’ll definitely do more activities like that in the future.  And, we’ll try to open it up to the rest of the school to get others involved.”
For Jay Murrell, communication is underway with area roofers and contractors to help other needy residents through SVDP’s Disaster Relief Program.  “I hope to work on other projects like this one. You know, from a seed a giant oak will grow,” said Murrell.  “There are a lot of needs out there.  Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  And, he really means that.”

Jo Cazes Retires, Leaves Legacy at SJB School


by Kelly Phelan Powell

After 44 years spent changing the lives of students, Jo Cazes’ own life will take a happy turn when, at the end of the school year, she retires from her distinguished career as an educator and school administrator. The Principal of St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport for the last 12 years, Cazes will leave SJB a much better place than when she found it. The school’s many lofty achievements during her tenure (just one example: SJB has won the Science Olympiad State Championship for eight years running) are due to many factors and tremendous effort on the part of teachers and staff, but one of the most profound and lasting changes Cazes made was asking students to step up and take ownership in every aspect of their school. The results have been consistent academic excellence, improved facilities and a better organized place to learn, teach and work.

When Cazes’ career began at Alexandria Senior High School in Rapides Parish, she never imagined that she would spend the majority of her career in Catholic schools. The Lord, however, decided that Catholic schools were exactly where she needed to be. Looking back, she marvels at how perfectly all the pieces fit together that led her to St. John Berchmans. “I’ve often thought of writing a book,” she said, “and I’d call it, Connect the Dots.” The past Louisiana Environmental Science Teacher of the Year and Regional Teacher of the Year moved from Alexandria to New Orleans with her husband Geoffrey’s career, and the family landed in Birmingham, AL in 1984. Throughout each move, she made a point to continue her education with graduate courses and professional development. “Every time we moved, I went to school,” she said.

During her time in Birmingham, Cazes was Principal of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School. It was at OLV that she first became involved with Science Olympiad, the organization that would become one of her finest legacies at St. John Berchmans. In 1995, she became Assistant Principal of Curriculum at John Carroll Catholic High School, a position she accepted on one condition: she wanted to teach a class. She remained at John Carroll for a decade. After her son settled in Shreveport, she and her husband decided to keep the family close and moved.

Upon arriving in Shreveport, she met with Frank Israel, former Principal of Loyola College Prep, who connected her with Sister Carol Shively, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Shreveport. Shively hired her as a consultant for St. John Berchmans, doing professional development and teacher observations. “I fell in love with the teachers,” she said. She accepted the Principal position in 2005, and she’s been leading the school forward ever since.

One of Cazes’ greatest accomplishments for the school has been its total physical renovation. Together with Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral, the school has had a major facelift with summer projects every year since 2006. Some of those projects include new floors, walls and lighting in the multi-room and cafeteria, a renovated office area and computer lab, a new playground, an elevator and, most recently, a brand new parish hall and library and technology center.

Assistant Principal Jennifer Deason, will succeed Cazes, and Trey Woodham, recently awarded Regional Coach of the Year, will be the new Assistant Principal.  Together they will continue to build a lasting legacy and quality education at St. John Berchmans.

In retirement, Cazes hopes to spend more time with her three grandchildren, and there’s no doubt she’ll continue her lifelong love of learning. “I continue learning from everyone I meet,” she said.

There will be a retirement reception in her honor after the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 30 in the Parish Hall at St. John Berchmans. All are invited to attend and say farewell to the Principal whom the school will miss nearly as much as she will miss it. “I love this school,” she said, and it shows.

Little Flower Visits with Muslim Community

On February 23, Little Flower of Jesus Parish in Monroe visited with the Muslim community of Monroe at the Islamic Center of Northeast Louisiana to offer support and encouragement. It also was a good opportunity to learn more about each other’s faith, make personal friendships and share some good food. There were about 100 participants present along with Imam Mahmoud Khalil and Fr. Adrian Fischer, OFM.

Tech and St. Thomas Welcomed Sr. Miriam

Sr. Miriam Mitchell, a religious sister with the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate stationed out of San Antonio, visited with the young women of the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) on February 24. Sr. Miriam is currently the vocation director for her community.  She shared stories about her life, led the group in prayer and reflection, and entertained questions from the group. Sr. Bernie, from Lake Providence, who is from the same community as Sr. Miriam, initiated the visit with ACTS vice president Courtney Smith.  Thanks Sr. Bernie!  ACTS loves to have visitors.  If you, or if someone you know would like to speak with very active Catholic college students, please contact Br. Mike Ward, OFM at 381-251-0793.