Category Archives: Local News

Three Brothers of the Lyke Community to Profess Vows

by Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH

On Friday, June 1, Brothers Paul Mutisya, Moses Mabele and Geoffrey Muga will have their Solemn Profession of Vows as Franciscan Missionaries of Hope at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Shreveport at 5:00 p.m. The following day, Saturday, June 2, Brother Geoffrey Muga will be ordained a transitional deacon by Bishop Michael G. Duca at St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport at 10:00 a.m.
The Lyke Community is a Catholic congregation of priests and brothers inspired by the Holy Spirit to live together and observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ following the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi in witnessing to the life of poverty, chastity and obedience while committing to the mission and ministry of hope to God’s people.

The Lyke Community began in Nairobi, Kenya in September 1993 by young men who had undergone their initial formation in the Order of Friars Minor: Fr. Francis Kamau (who currently serves as pastor of St. Mary of the Pines Church in Shreveport), Fr. John Basiimwa, Fr. Nicholas Onyach and Fr. Jogues Abenawe. Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM,  at that time the Rector of Tangaza College in Nairobi, played a major role in the community’s foundation and  is considered a co-founder and sponsor of the congregation. Fr. Andre now serves as pastor of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Shreveport.

Since their foundation, the religious brothers have called themselves “The Lyke Community” in honor of the the late Archbishop James Patterson Lyke, the Archbishop of Atlanta, because he had visited the brothers and encouraged them before their foundation.

Brother Moses Mabele is a native of Kenya and currently finishing his theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Brother Paul Mutisya is a native of Kenya and in his second year of theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Brother Geoffrey Muga is a native of Kenya and currently finishing his Masters of Divinity at Washington Theological Union in Washington D.C.

Please join these men on June 1 and 2 as they continue down the paths of their religious vocations.

Catholic Charities Grows with Support of Diocesan Catholics

by Theresa Mormino

Many have asked for an update on progress for Gabriel’s Closet, Catholic Charities of Shreveport’s newest program. This Closet, which will provide essentials like baby furniture, gear, clothing and bottles for low-income new moms and their small children, is fully staffed by volunteers. We are especially blessed to have volunteer nurses who will conduct parenting classes. Most recently, we’ve added a maternity clothing section that we hope will bring these new mothers to us sooner, giving us a better opportunity to assist, educate and guide those young women in need. We’ll announce the opening of Gabriel’s Closet soon! Please visit our Facebook page for updates.

Since Catholic Charities of Shreveport opened its doors in July 2010, we have seen enormous growth in requests for emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities and other pressing and often critical needs by those who come to us for assistance. Unmet need is a difficult and troubling part of Catholic Charities across our nation and within our own diocese as well. We’ve served over 2,000 individuals since opening and have added an Immigration Center to raise awareness in our community about the difficulties faced by local immigrant families and to help them improve their living conditions and promote the welfare of their children.We are also planning Financial Education classes that will become a requirement for those who have received financial assistance. It is our desire to help the poor and vulnerable toward a more self-sufficient life.

Thankfully, the Diocesan Stewardship Appeal’s support of Catholic Charities of Shreveport is enabling us to go forward with these programs. We fill a gap that many other agencies are not presently offering, especially because our programs are preventative.

Because Catholic Charities of Shreveport is still so new to this diocese, many are unaware of the enormous scope of Catholic Charities in the U.S. In fact, it is the second largest human service organization in the country!  CCUSA member agencies provide help and create hope for more than 10 million people each year. Catholic Charities of Shreveport is proud to be a member of the Catholic Charities U.S.A. network.

The average poverty rate for our diocese is above the national average and the child poverty rate for children under age 5 is staggering, at 22.98% and 36.39% respectively.  As you consider this sobering information, please remember to pray for the victims of hunger, fear, injustice and oppression and for the success of Catholic Charities of Shreveport, that we might be blessed with more funding for emergency assistance. Let us all pray for an end to higher poverty levels. That, after all, is the dream – to live to see an end to poverty.  Some say that’s an impossibility, but we know that all things are possible through the grace of God!

Second Collection: Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Fund

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by Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General

Bulletin Announcement Dates:  May 6th & 13th
Collection Dates: May 19th & 20th

Perhaps you are familiar with the picture of the old man giving thanks over his meal. There is a similar picture of an old woman doing the same.  Sometimes those two images are brought together in one frame. Several things capture us in that painting: the hands and devotion of that woman and man certainly speak to our hearts. In their hands that have aged with time and duties, we see grace and a mysterious strength.  In their bowed heads and serene faces, we behold devotion, thankfulness, wisdom and trust.  Such are the hands and faces of the retired priests of our diocese. Whenever we are around them we are drawn to them and their aged hands and kindly faces. The grace and strength of many years of priestly ministry are manifested in their inspiring hands and their faces speak to our hearts.  Whether it’s at a special occasion Mass, a small intimate supper, or some other gathering, we are mesmerized by old, grace-filled hands and mysteriously calm faces. They have served the Lord and us well, and they continue to do so with the strength that only a long union with God can provide when the body is tired, the mind is not quite so focused, and limitation hampers their every intention.  Please give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Fund.

Let’s lovingly recall those old hands and faces, shall we?  Bishop William Friend, Msgr. Murray Clayton, Msgr. Franz Graef, Fr. Walter Ebarb, Fr. John Kennedy, Fr. Roger McMullen, Msgr. Edmund Moore, Fr. Joseph Puthuppally, Fr. Patrick Scully and Fr. Kenneth Williams. These are the lives, hands and faces behind your generosity to this collection. These men are the human incarnations in our midst of the gratitude you show to God through your heartfelt giving. And let’s not forget those other old grace-filled hands of priests who are past retirement age but who continue to spend themselves for the Lord and his people: Msgr. Carson LaCaze, Fr. Richard Lombard, Fr. Larry Niehoff and Msgr. Earl Provenza.  For their strength, comfort and tranquility in their old age, please give generously to the Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests Collection.  Your kindness will brighten their days and carry them the whole year through.

I hope you have turned in your Operation Rice Bowls which further the work of Catholic Relief Services, and I thank you for participating in that great Lenten devotion. Thank you also for your participation in the Pontifical Good Friday Holy Land Collection, the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection and the Home Mission Appeal Collection.  May the peace of the Risen Christ make you glad, alleluia!

St. Terence Church, Many

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by Linda Webster, PhD

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling small churches around the diocese.

St. Terence is one of the newer parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport, established in 1996 to serve the Catholics in the Toledo Bend area. Originally, St. Terence was located in Pleasant Hill until lack of attendance forced the church to close in 1992.

The church building was an old army barracks purchased from Camp Claiborne by Bishop Greco in 1948. Moved to Toledo Bend in 1994, the building was renovated but age and termite damage limited what the congregation could do.

“When the mission was relocated, there was a lot of hope and vision but no money,” wrote Buddy Polson, the parish historian. “It was a proud little church but its size soon became its biggest problem.”

About 20 people showed up for the first Mass, and then attendance skyrocketed, outstripping the capacity of the church with many faithful standing in the doorway as well as outside for Sunday Mass.  Since the building could not be enlarged due to the structural damage, parishioners began campaigning with Msgr. Buvens in 1995 for a new church. Although Bishop William Friend approved plans for a 3,000 square foot building, funding was still a large problem.

Fr. Joe Martina & Deacon Mike Sullivan distribute the Eucharist during Mass at St. Terence Church.

“We looked around the congregation and realized that most of us were retired engineers, carpenters and others who had the skills to do the actual construction,” said Polson.  “In fact, about 90% of our congregation is retired. What we needed was the money to buy supplies. We could build it ourselves.”

With a grant from the Catholic Extension Society, ground was broken for the new church exactly one year after the old barracks opened its doors. That structure still stands, serving as the parish hall.

“It was amazing,” he chuckled.  “We’d work from about 7:00 a.m. through noon, then everyone else would go home to take naps while I took the list of supplies that we needed for the next day, loaded up my truck with building materials, and came back so that we could start early the next morning.”

The church is located right on Hwy 191, which is very convenient for weekend vacationers at Toledo Bend.  It’s also a very visible location for passers-by.

“People stopped all the time while we were building.  Some wanted to make a contribution toward the construction, others offered to volunteer their time. One church group from another denomination asked if they could hire us to build their church when we finished.”

His eyes twinkled as he recounted their reply: “Sorry, but we’re all REALLY retired when this one is done!”
Creating the interior took everyone’s help.  The pews were purchased from St. Rita in Alexandria which had burned in 1994.  They needed to be cleaned and sanded and refinished as a result of the fire damage.

“We stored them in a chicken coop where the ladies of the church worked through the summer getting them ready.  It was hot – and it was smelly.  But they got the pews in great shape.”

Other items were salvaged from the original St. Terence church including the altar and the statues.  The altar of repose is crafted from an extra pew, and the stands for the statues plus the holy water fonts were made by parishioners.  The baptismal font was donated by another parishioner and the Stations of the Cross were refurbished donations, as well.

“The backbone of the church is our Women’s Club,” said Polson.  “We call them the ‘Angels of St. Terence’.”
From the beginning a group of women organized as volunteers to clean the church and to purchase supplies for Mass. They extracted dues from their members at $12 per year, solicited donations, and have organized fundraisers.  All this without regular meetings.

“They have raised thousands of dollars over the years and they reach out to help anyone in need.”

Fundraising has ranged from garage sales and raffles to saving grocery receipts and operating a religious supply store. The store is no longer operating but anyone needing a rosary or a statue or other devotional item just needs to ask – it will be ordered for them.

“They have helped many families by purchasing food, clothing and medical supplies. They’ve paid utility bills for those in need and they adopt families at Christmas with food and gifts.”

The Breakfast buffet, provided by St. Terence “Angels” is next door to the church.

Polson pointed out that those they help are seldom Catholic.  “Their unwritten creed would be to help ALL of God’s people.”

On any given Sunday, there will be visitors from all over the region who are vacationing at Toledo Bend.  Everyone is invited to the breakfast buffet next door in the “old” church where coffee, pastries, and fellowship are provided by those same “Angels.”

The St. Terence parishioners have a close relationship with St. John the Baptist in Many, served by Rev. Joseph A Martina, Jr. and Deacon Mike Sullivan, since they are a quasi-parish.  The Knights of Columbus held a very successful fundraiser at St. Terence in August even though the Knights are based at St. John the Baptist.

One area of cooperation is the music ministry. Dan and Brenda Devaney come to the 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Terence each week but both are music ministers at St. John the Baptist. Dan cantors and conducts while Brenda provides the keyboard accompaniment. After the 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Terence, they have a 15 mile drive back to St. John the Baptist to prepare for the 10:00 am Mass.

Even though Polson claims to be retired from the church construction business, he said that there are many Sundays when every pew is filled and the church is brimming with worshipers.

“Today, we had a light crowd,” he said of the August 14 gathering where approximately 50 people were in place prior to the beginning of Mass. “This is nothing.  There is standing room only at Christmas and Easter.  Fourth of July is packed as are Memorial Day and Labor Day because of the lake. But we welcome them all!”

From the Bishop’s Desk

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

Dear Friends in Christ:

I am both pleased and grateful to report that our 2012 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal has been blessed by a strong start, and over 1.1 million dollars has already been pledged by the Catholic faithful of our diocese.  Congratulations are also in order for the eight parishes and chapels that have achieved their 2012 Appeal pledge goal!

I am encouraged that more than 83% of our Appeal pledge goal has been met in this early success by our Annual Appeal and I want to encourage every reader of our Catholic Connection to participate with a pledge or one-time gift to this important effort.

Amazingly, only around 2,800 donors or just 24% of our known Catholic families within our diocese have provided our Appeal with this success since February. Please consider adding your name to that list with a show of Appeal support and help us reach our overall diocesan pledge goal of 1.35 million dollars. Simply use the 2012 Appeal pledge card located on page 22 of this May edition of your Catholic Connection.
Know that you remain in my daily prayers and may God bless you for your support of our Appeal.

Safe Environment Audit

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by Deacon Michael Straub, Human Resources Director and Safe Environment Coordinator

The Diocese of Shreveport participates in an annual audit on its safe environment program (Protecting God’s Children). Since the program’s inception in 2002, the diocese has been found fully compliant with each of the 17 articles of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. During this past audit period, which ended June 30, 2011, we were found to be again fully compliant in our training of adults and children and our background check processes. Unfortunately we were found to be noncompliant in regards to one requirement. Our Permanent Review Board is required to meet at least once each year and they did not meet within this audit period. Upon discovering this mistake we quickly assembled our review board, as required, which placed us back into full compliance with the charter.

The Permanent Review Board is an integral part of the diocese’s response to claims of abuse of a minor as outlined by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  Even though the required yearly meeting was not held, the Permanent Review Board of the diocese was formed and ready to fulfill its responsibilities. This board consists of experienced professionals from law enforcement, legal council, and mental health disciplines specializing in child abuse trauma and family counseling.

In other aspects of the audit the dioceses of the United States have the option to have their audits also at the parish level. Only a third of the dioceses chose to have the audit firm enter their parishes. We are and will continue to be one of these dioceses. We have also been given recognition for our additional actions that go beyond the scope of the charter. We are recognized by the audit firm and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for our extra efforts in training and placing a Local Safe Environment Coordinator in each parish and school to help monitor safe environment compliance. These volunteer coordinators also receive annual reviews and updates and share their techniques for implementing safe environment in their parishes and schools with other coordinators.

Over the past 10 years we have trained almost 5,000 adults to be proactive in creating a safe environment for our children. We will continue to be steadfast in our efforts to provide a safe environment for our children, young people, vulnerable adults and families within our churches, schools and offices.

Red Mass to Celebrate 20th Anniversary

The Annual Western Deanery Red Mass, honoring judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers and public officials is in its 20th year.

by John Mark Willcox

For a twentieth year, Red Mass in the Western Deanery will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport on Friday, May 4, at 9:00 a.m. This is a votive Mass offered to invoke the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude. Red Mass is sponsored annually by the Red Mass Society and Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

The Red Mass is offered throughout the world with the primary purpose of evoking God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice. Since the thirteenth century, scarlet vestments have been worn by the celebrants of this Mass which symbolize tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit.  In ancient times the robes of the attending judges were also bright red, thus providing an additional reason for the name of this event.

Bishop Michael G. Duca will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this year’s Red Mass. He will assist the members of the bar in honoring Samaritan International for their medical ministry and ongoing efforts to promote social justice throughout the world.  Dr. William Norwood will represent Samaritan International for the award having served within the organization for many years.  Dr. Norwood helped to pioneer laparoscopic surgery centers in the former Soviet Union which have greatly reduced mortality rates for surgery in the region. He has also worked with several of our diocesan priests, assisting with some 40 orphanages located in the Ukraine.

The Annual Red Mass is a public, ecumenical worship service and people of all faiths are invited to participate in this special blessing for judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers and public officials.

Small Church Profile: St. Ann Church, Ebarb

Two girls ring the bell to start Mass at St. Ann’s.

by Linda Webster, PhD

St. Ann Church in Ebarb, Louisiana.

During the 25th anniversary year of the Diocese of Shreveport we are profiling small churches around the diocese.

St. Ann houses a robust place of worship in Ebarb, a small area of homes at the western edge of Sabine parish.

“We’re a real Catholic community,” said Maudie Woodruff who grew up in the area. “I like to think of our church as ‘old time religion’ practiced the way our parents and grandparents [did when they] came to this church.”

Dedicated in 1935 by Bishop Desmond, the church looks much the same today as it has for the last 75 years. According to Ione Durr, a granddaughter of Homer Ezernack who was one of the four carpenters, a mule-drawn wagon load of materials arrived each week on Monday from Zwolle with the head carpenter who boarded with the Albert Ebarb family.  Friday, he would drive the mules back to Zwolle.  The church looks very much the same today with the exception of a stunning altar piece brought to Ebarb from Iowa by Fr. Tim Hurd.  A front porch has been added, a wing for housing a resident priest was completed in the early 1950s and the St. Ann cemetery was created just down the road on the way to Zwolle.

“I started singing in the choir when I was in fifth grade,” said Woodruff.  “The church would be packed with large families and lots of children.  But when Toledo Bend came in, so many people had to move and now there is just the one road into the community from Zwolle.”
Recognized by the State of Louisiana in 1978 as a Choctaw-Apache Tribal Area, many of the residents are descendants of Apache slaves, Choctaw families on the Sabine River or natives of the Spanish mission of Los Adaes.

“We older ones refer to the pews on the right side as the women’s side and the pews on the left as the men’s side,” noted Durr.  “This is a common practice in Native American cultures and about 99% of our members are of the local tribe.”

Originally, a small chapel built in 1920 with $165 of Catholic Extension Society funding served the community.  Mass was said by Fr. Bokhoven when he could get to Ebarb from St. Joseph much like Fr. Tim Hurd serves the parish today.  Beginning as a mission of St. Joseph Church in Zwolle, seven miles away, St. Ann was returned to mission status in 2005 after 50 years as an independent parish.

Early parishioners await Mass inside St. Ann Church.

“Growing up, we had religious education here at St. Ann although I think Confirmation may have been at St. Joseph,” added Woodruff.
A delightful photograph gracing the front cover of the Images of America publication titled Around Ebarb and the Toledo Bend by Mary Lucille Rivers and Travis Ebarb, Jr. confirms Woodruff’s memory.  Fr. William Pierce, the resident pastor at St. Ann from 1953-1968, is shown motoring up a waterway in a small boat filled with eight school-aged children as he ferries them to the parish for religion classes.  A couple of the smaller boys are holding onto the gunnels fiercely but most are smiling.  The children in the photograph have last names that are still very common in the community: Procell and Manshack. A more contemporary photograph on page 14 of that same publication shows a group of 11 youngsters, all decked out in canvas-covered life jackets, waiting by an all-terrain vehicle.  The caption reads: “Waiting on Fr. Pierce and getting ready to ‘cross the creek’ to go back home after catechism …”

According to Monica Ebarb, some parishioners would walk miles to attend Sunday Mass.

“I remember one lady who drove her truck to church always carrying about 8-10 people in the front and back of her truck.  Any time Mass was being held, she was there with her passengers no matter the weather.”

Monica also remembers the men sitting on the left and all of the women and children sitting to the right, many praying the rosary silently during Mass.  She also remembers when air conditioning and a P.A. system were installed.

“Before that, the priest just spoke loudly!”

St. Ann Cemetery is on the left as one drives into the center of the community.

“We used to have a men’s club called the ‘King’s Kitchen’ while Fr. Williams was here,” remembered Woodruff.  “They’d have a little bar-b-que maybe once a year, and take care of the cemetery and the church.”

Fr. Luis Antlitz is buried in the cemetery under the main cross.  He served as pastor from 1968 through 1976, then retired. He lived with two local families until his death – Raymond and Joan Ebarb and Chester and Oma Procell.

Today, the community gathers at St. Ann Church for Mass on Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Anita Manshack unlocks the main door around 6:00 p.m. and prepares to lead the rosary for the large turn-out of two dozen parishioners. Among the early arrivals is Nicolette Ebarb and her cousin, Crista Chance, who go out onto the front porch to begin greeting parishioners.

“We volunteered to be greeters,” said Ebarb. “We like being out here and saying ‘Hello’ to everyone. And then we ring the bell. There are big crowds here at Christmas and Easter plus there are newcomers, the visitors who are fishing or camping on the lake.”

Woodruff’s own great-granddaughter was present in the church when Bishop Duca visited as part of his initial tour of all parishes in the diocese.

“We had her in the choir area at the front of the church and she started fussing,” she chuckled.  “My granddaughter got up to take the child out of church but Bishop Duca told her to stay – that a fussing baby was the sound of new life in the church!”

Woodruff lives just a quarter mile away from St. Ann on the one road that leads in to and out of town. She and her family provide the music for liturgies, practicing at the church for special events like Christmas and Easter, but most of the time singing the hymns they’ve sung together for years.  Mia Curtis plays the keyboard and other choir members include Monica Ebarb and her daughter, Amber Cartinez, plus other members of the extended family.

“We love our little church,” Woodruff said.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Chooses CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medial Center

Dr. William Lunn, Administrator of CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center, introduces Sr. Rose Marie McDermott during the Children’s Miracle Announcement.

by Kristen Gary

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has chosen CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center as a member of their network of 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s joins a prestigious list of member hospitals including Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Texas Children’s in Houston and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

John Lauck, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals President and CEO, said “Sutton Children’s was chosen as a member hospital due to the excellent quality of care they provide for regional kids. The hospital now has access to a North American network of 170 elite health institutions and fundraising resources to further advance their operations. We look forward to Sutton Children’s continuing improvement as a member hospital.”

Stephen F. Wright, CEO of CHRISTUS Health Louisiana, said “This designation is considered a recognition of excellence among children’s hospitals. This partnership assures our community that the services being delivered to children in Northern Louisiana and Texas by CHRISTUS Sutton Children’s Medical Center are of the highest quality available nationwide.”

While Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a national partnership, 100 percent of donations stays in the local community to be used to pay for the cost of caring for pediatric health needs, to purchase equipment and to fund research and training.

William Lunn, MD, COO of CHRISTUS Health Shreveport–Bossier, discussed how people could help support the children’s hospital. “As you stop by one of the participating Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals corporate partners like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kroger, Rite Aid and many others, please consider purchasing a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals ‘Miracle Balloon’. These funds will be used by the hospital where the money is needed most, including new equipment, child life services, uncompensated care and research.” Sutton Children’s joins other CHRISTUS hospitals, including CHRISTUS Cabrini Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Alexandria, CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Sutton Children’s Medical Center is recognized as a preeminent community-based private children’s hospital that includes an inpatient unit, a PICU and a Level III NICU. Child Life specialists are available to help children cope with treatment. The Pediatric Emergency Department provides specialized emergency care just for kids.