Category Archives: Local News

Catholic Charities Announces New Development Director

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently announced that Tiffany Olah has joined the organization as the new Director of Development and Communications.

As Director of Development and Communications, Olah will not only be responsible for maintaining donor relations, coordinating with community outreach programs and creating public awareness, but will also be responsible for annual social events that support Catholic Charities, such as Bingo on the Bayou and Lights of Broadway.

Originally from Florida, Olah resides in Shreveport with her husband and daughter while her son is a student at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. She is excited to bring her communications and public relations knowledge to Catholic Charities and eager to work with those at Catholic Charities.

“I am honored to be part of such a diverse staff that genuinely cares about what they do and who they do it for,” Olah said.

For more information about CCNLA, visit www.ccnla.org or email questions to development@ccnla.org.  You may also call 318-865-0200 or visit CCNLA on Facebook or Instagram.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana was established in 2010 through the efforts of the Diocese of Shreveport. It continues to uphold its vision of investing in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.  •

Fitzgerald Named Outstanding Philanthropist

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by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

On November 7, 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals North Louisiana Chapter hosted their 27th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bossier City. Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) was there to support this year’s recipient for Outstanding Philanthropist: Martha Holoubek Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is the immediate past president of the CCNLA board of directors and has served on the board since 2013. She has additionally supported our organization with personal donations in the eight years since Catholic Charities began its mission to serve the poor and vulnerable in North Louisiana.

It is because her many years of service to the Shreveport/Bossier community, and especially for her outstanding work at Catholic Charities that CCNLA Executive Director, Meg Goorley, nominated Fitzgerald for this prestigious honor.

“Because of her gentle demeanor, most people don’t know what a powerhouse she is,” Goorley said. “Martha Fitzgerald is the most remarkable, ordinary person I’ve met.”

Such sentiments couldn’t ring more true. Her community service contributions are impressive and extensive. Before her work with CCNLA, Fitzgerald served as a board member, a committee member or held office for LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation-Shreveport, the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences Visiting Committee for Loyola University, the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation, Louisiana Press Women, National Federation of Press Women and the Leadership Council for Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves as a board member of Pet Pantry of Northwest Louisiana, a committee member of River Cities Network for business women, and serves as lector and minister of care at the Cathedral of
St. John Berchmans.

She has been a member of the Women’s Philanthropy Network of Shreveport since its founding. Through that program, Fitzgerald participates in the selection of grants for organizations such as Step Forward, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Volunteers for Youth Justice, Caddo Parish Transformation Zone, Caddo Parish School Board, LSU Shreveport Foundation and Biomedical Research Foundation.

Not only has Fitzgerald made a lasting impact on the community within the non-profit sector, but in her professional career as well. Fitzgerald, a former journalist, is an author, editor and independent publisher. She owns Little Dove Press LLC, Martha Fitzgerald Consulting, LLC and manages Holoubek Family, LLC.

She is a former columnist and associate editorial page editor for The Shreveport Times. In fact, she held several editor positions while at The Times and did her share of special assignments for Gannett as well.

A graduate of the 100th class of St. Vincent’s Academy in Shreveport, Fitzgerald earned her Bachelor’s degree from Loyola University, her Master’s degree from Louisiana Tech University and holds a Certificate of Advanced Biblical Studies from the University of Dallas.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana could not be more proud or honored to have been a part of Fitzgerald’s legacy of service.

Father Lombard Celebrates 65 Years of Priestly Ministry

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by John Mark Willcox

There are few Catholics who live in Shreveport or Bossier City that have not had their lives affected in a positive way by Fr. Richard Lombard, who celebrates his 65th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood on December 20. After he received Holy Orders in 1953, Fr. Lombard was encouraged by the late Bishop Charles P. Greco to minister in the mission field of Louisiana.

Upon his arrival in Alexandria, Fr. Lombard began providing his unique priestly ministry to the Catholics of central Louisiana. His many early assignments included serving as an assistant in three locations until he came to his first pastor’s assignment at St. Edward Church in Tallulah, LA, in 1962. Four years later, Bishop Greco asked that he go to west Shreveport and serve as the founding pastor of a new parish. Thus, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Shreveport was born in August of 1966, and the parishioners there enjoyed 20 years of Fr. Lombard’s pastoral leadership.

Fr. Lombard departed Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in 1986, but not before proudly burning the mortgage of the new church and leaving the parish entirely debt free. He then served short appointments to Shreveport’s St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in 1986, and Christ the King Parish in Bossier City from 1987-90. The remainder of his active ministry has been centered on St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport, where he served as an associate priest before being named as pastor, later guiding St. Joseph during the parish’s 50th anniversary in 1999.

Throughout his priesthood, Fr. Lombard has excelled at instructing and welcoming new Catholics through the RCIA process and helping divorced Catholics through the marriage annulment process. Through his devoted ministry, thousands of new Catholics have entered the Church and hundreds among the faithful are able to lead new lives following their successful annulments. Fr. Lombard has never lost a case he brought before the Marriage Tribunal, a feat of which he is most proud.

Even with his senior priest status, Fr. Lombard continues to offer his ministry to the people of our region without hesitation. He is a priest who built and renovated parishes, guided his people in true stewardship to God’s many blessings, marked and celebrated milestones with his congregations, and spent decades bringing people into and back to Mother Church. He is truly devoted to his vocation and remains a wonderful example of the priesthood to thousands of Catholics in two different dioceses.

God bless you Father Lombard, and thank you for your years of service to the faithful of Louisiana!

Vocations View: Serving in a Parish

by Jeb Key, Seminarian 

What an incredible year it has been for me. I am now beginning my fourth year as a seminarian for the great Diocese of Shreveport and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. It seems like only yesterday that Bishop Michael Duca accepted me as a seminarian. I have learned and grown a great deal in the past three years as your seminarian, and I continue to grow in the love of God each and every day.

Since beginning this journey, I have felt the desire to serve the people of our diocese grow in my heart. I am happy to say that this year, I have been following this desire a little more immediately by serving as a seminarian in the parish of St. Joseph in Shreveport. For this entire school year, I will remain at St. Joseph’s in lieu of returning for theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary.

During this period of time, I will be serving Masses and assisting our priests in providing the Sacraments to the people of Shreveport. I will also be able to take a more active part of the liturgical year of our diocese. My close proximity to St. Joseph School, as well as our other Catholic schools, will allow me to hopefully assist and be a part of these communities in any way that I can.

Most importantly however, this experience allows me to really think and pray more deeply with my vocation. In almost every job, you spend a certain period of time studying and learning under a more experienced person. This apprenticeship for me is teaching me the in’s and out’s of priesthood and parish life. So far I have been working with RCIA, high-school and middle-school youth groups, the parish school of religion, as well as learning from the wonderful staff at St. Joseph’s.

I’ve even spent several class periods with the middle-school religion classes answering questions and sharing my story. These experiences have given me a fresh outlook on what it means to be a part of the parish. The things that I have learned so far are things which you simply cannot learn out of a book in a school; but things which are learned by doing and being with the people of the diocese.

It is lucky that St. Joseph is one of our busiest parishes and I have many opportunities to learn about parish life. I know that my time at St. Joseph will change not only my life, but my future priesthood forever. •

Cathedral Launches New Podcast Mini-Series Highlighting Shreveport 1873

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will have a special podcast mini-series during the month of November entitled, No Greater Love: Shreveport 1873. The series will commemorate the 145th anniversary of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Shreveport, which ended in mid-November 1873. That epidemic witnessed the deaths of five Catholic priests and three religious sisters from the Daughters of the Cross. Each episode will highlight a different Shreveport “martyr to his charity,” in the order of their deaths: Fr. Isidore Quemerais, Fr. Jean Pierre, Fr. Narcisse LeBiler, Fr. Louis Gergaud, and Fr. Francois LeVezouet. The podcast series is being produced by Fr. Peter Mangum, Ryan Smith and Dr. Cheryl White, who are authoring a book on the priests and the other religious of 1873 who sacrificed their own lives in the service of others. It will be available in the iTunes store and on the Cathedral website.

St. Joseph Cemetery: Remembering & Revitalizing

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by Kate Rhea

In November of 1882, less than a decade after arriving in Shreveport, Fr. Joseph Gentille, the second pastor of Holy Trinity Church was contemplating a major decision. North Louisiana’s growing Catholic population was in need of space to bury its dearly departed; a private place for peaceful rest during a turbulent time in history.

His faith and devotion to his fledgling parish led him to use his own savings to establish Shreveport’s first Catholic Cemetery. He named it in honor of his patron saint, and 136 years later, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery is still operating as a resting place for departed Catholics in the area. Since taking over operations at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in 1996, the Diocese of Shreveport has facilitated the burial of hundreds of Catholics who have the privilege of being interred in a cemetery full of rich and enduring history.

St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery has developed over the decades. Its present state offers nearly 100 sections arranged into plots and crypts. In addition, a Garden Mausoleum and Chapel Mausoleum feature over 200 interred tombs. For older cemeteries, the common question is whether or not expansion is necessary or optional. In the case of St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, there are already nearly 300 plots currently available with a projected additional 200 plots which will become available when needed.

Those interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are in good and honorable company. Many notable persons are buried throughout the cemetery, including local religious leaders, such as two of the beloved priests who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic, 14 Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and Fr. Gentille himself.

Shreveport’s early champions of entrepreneurship and philanthropy are also buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. One such champion is Justin Vincent Gras who came to Shreveport from France in the late 19th century, ran a successful family grocery, and later became the largest landowner in Caddo Parish by the 1920s. A benefactor of St. Vincent’s Academy and St. Mary School, Gras was a community contributor. He is credited with the phrase, “What’s good for Shreveport is good for me!”

Contributors to academia and the art world are also present at the cemetery, including Lebanese novelist Afifa Karam. Karam was an advocate for Arab Feminism who made her literary debut in 1906 by the age of 23. She was put in charge of an Arabic-language newspaper called Al-Hoda in New York City, and created al-’Ālam al-Jadīd al-Nisā’ī, a monthly periodical for women. She settled with John Karam in Shreveport and is described by biographers as an ardent and involved Catholic.
Veterans of several wars are interred at St. Joseph including Pvt. A.J. Stacey, a Confederate soldier and member of Stewart’s Louisiana State Guard C.S.A. and Henry Lane Mitchell, a veteran of World War II who served as Shreveport’s public works commissioner from 1934 to 1968.

Local football legend David Woodley, who played quarterback for Byrd High School, LSU and professionally for the Miami Dolphins, is buried there also. In 1983, Woodley played in Super Bowl XVII as the youngest starting quarterback in history at that time, solidifying his place in sports history.

Presently over a dozen beloved Catholics and their family members are buried annually at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery and the cost of such a privilege is less prohibitive than one might imagine. With national averages for burial plots in private cemeteries hovering around $1,500, buying a plot at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery costs $750, with cremation burial rights costing considerably less at $375. The range of prices for opening and closing fees associated with burial at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery are between $850 to $1,100, depending on whether the service is held on a weekday, weekend or holiday.

Other items needed for grave side services, such as tents and chairs, are available upon request and for a reasonable fee. The staff at the Diocese of Shreveport are courteous and professional with many years of experience and can answer any questions you have about the process, whether you’re planning for the future or dealing with an unexpected burial need.

In early 2018, the Diocese of Shreveport honored St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery’s past by revitalizing its digital archival database for those interred over the last 100+ years. The complicated yet necessary tasks of mapping and confirming burial sections, researching records and preserving individual documents are currently underway. Cemetery prayer services, cleaning days and genealogical study groups for family members are all a part of the plan for keeping St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in the hearts and minds of Catholics in the diocese.

For more information about burial costs and available spaces, please contact Ed Hydro at ehydro@dioshpt.org, or 318-219-7277. If you would like information pertaining to a loved one interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, please contact Slattery Library and Resource Center at 318-219-7264, or e-mail Kate Rhea at krhea@dioshpt.org. •

Join Us for iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday

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by John Mark Willcox

shreveport.igivecatholic.org

We are excited to announce that the Diocese of Shreveport will be participating in #iGiveCatholic, the first-ever online giving day created to celebrate our unique Catholic heritage! The #iGiveCatholic Giving Day inspires faithful stewards to “Give Catholic” on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving.

The goal of the #iGiveCatholic Giving Day is to rally the Catholic community of our diocese in support of the organizations that shape our souls: Our Annual Appeal programs and ministries, our Catholic schools and nonprofit ministries dedicated to helping those in need. We know that, for Catholics, generosity and giving have a profound meaning. As children of God, giving is the ultimate expression of mercy as we provide quality education to our young people and help those in need while preserving our Catholic heritage in North Louisiana for future generations. Compelled to action by our shared faith, our prayer is that area Catholics will be energized to give back with critical needed financial support.

This is the first year that the Diocese of Shreveport will take part in this unique and very successful program which has provided monetary assistance to many worthy ministries over the past several years. #iGiveCatholic will take place this year on November 27th (Giving Tuesday) from midnight until 11:59 pm Central Time. Plan to visit #iGiveCatholic on the web on November 27th and remember that this is a wonderful opportunity to offer your generous support to our core efforts to serve our region through gifts to our Annual Appeal, Catholic schools, the Society of  St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities of North Louisiana.

If you have any questions or need more information on this year’s #iGiveCatholic day of giving, contact the Diocesan Development Office, bvice@dioshpt.org. •

Catholic Charities: Making a Difference

Volunteer Lauren Gore surveys clients three months after they’ve attended Money School.

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of CCNLA

Most of the people who reach out to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana need some financial assistance with utilities and/or rent. Often I’m asked, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” referring to the help we give the poor and vulnerable we serve. The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

Before discovering the need, everyone requesting financial assistance is required to attend the Money School, a roughly three-hour class which helps people recognize “leaks” in their finances. The classes are held at each of our offices in Shreveport, Monroe and Lake Providence. I have personally attended this class multiple times and learned something new at every single one. During the session, each attendee takes a pre-test and post-test to determine how much information is being absorbed. The average increase in financial knowledge is 40 percent.

In addition to the test, we provide a survey at the end, asking our clients specifically what they thought of the Money School. Here are some of their responses:

“It made me realize I need to get a job and SAVE.”

“I’m going to write down everything I spend money on.”

“Thank you for taking time out to help me learn to make the right decisions.”

“I need to eliminate the LEAKS!”

After the Money School, each client is offered a one-on-one counseling session with a case manager, free of charge. During this visit our case managers really dissect each person’s finances and delve into the problems people are experiencing. Overall, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana helps less than half of the people seeking monetary assistance, due to a lack of funding. There are many more people who truly need our help—and qualify—but our budget simply cannot accommodate everyone who enters our doors.

Finally, a sampling of all who attended the Money School (those helped and not helped by CCNLA) are given a phone survey after three months to determine changes in the clients’ situation. Here is the combined result from our surveys:
Gained Habits 73% (such as tracking spending, purchasing needs vs. wants, etc.)

Opened a Bank Account    12%
Gained Employment        19%
Increased Income        27%
(average increase: $1,032.58)
Current on Rent        72%
Current on all Utilities        55%

**Disclaimer: Individuals may not seek help again from CCNLA until 24 months have passed, and they must be able to prove that the tools we gave them were being used, e.g. tracking spending.

So, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” can be answered by our clients, their statistics, and the respect we’ve earned from other non-profits in the community who use Catholic Charities as a benchmark.

Catholic Charities is supported by the Community Foundation of NW Louisiana, Beaird Family Foundation, Grayson Foundation, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, Louisiana State Bar Association, Jonesboro State Bank, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, Walmart and the Diocese of Shreveport.

Saying Yes to Embrace Grace!

by L’Anne Sciba

On October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the fifth Embrace Grace Baby Shower was sponsored by the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and Mary’s House. Thirteen young mothers were honored because they are carrying babies in tough circumstances, but they said “YES” to the invitation to attend 12 classes at Mary’s House – classes that introduced them to Jesus, new people, practical information and the Church.

What is just as wonderful is that women and men from eight parishes in the diocese and other groups in Shreveport said “YES!” to pray, bring gifts and/or to attend this Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

The Embrace Grace vision is to give single, pregnant women a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support.  The Embrace Grace mission is to inspire and equip the Church to love single and pregnant young women and their families. Both the girls and the people of the Church step out of their comfort zones to make an Embrace Grace class and baby shower happen. Thank you for your prayers, gifts, work and attendance at the Embrace Grace Baby Shower.

Gratefulness is the Secret to Graceful Aging

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Old age is a proving ground for faith and just another season of life. The wonder of it all is that gratitude can stretch your mind if you allow it to capture you. It breathes in this wonder and breathes it out during this season when we live in gratitude and thanksgiving. How enriched our lives can be by this wonder shared with others! To grow old spiritually is only possible when we live that new season as a thankful person. Gratefulness is the secret of graceful aging. Aging is all God’s doing, so don’t fight it.

Pope Francis says that older people still have a lot to offer younger people. God calls them to become spiritual grandparents to the youth, in spite of many people, he says, who might not want older people around.

They might call them the “gerontocracy of the Church,” but older people say they don’t know what they are talking about. We’re not geriatrics, we’re grandparents! God says, according to Pope Francis, “Get up, Look! Hope!” Grandparents share a sense of life and experience with their grandchildren. This is a beautiful reflection from Pope Francis.

Nature brings out the true spirit of a person because they are in touch with the most noble parts of their life in ways they couldn’t have been in younger years. Living a spirited life is what aging is all about. Join the profession of aging!

Being grateful for all this during the season of Thanksgiving can break all boundaries between people. It shows that we are still the “psycho-spiritual us” wherever we are. Let it show as you honor the season, your families, friends, as it’s a season of our souls.

Dazzle everyone! We’ve learned how to fight our culture’s allergy to aging and remember, no one stays young forever.
Victor Hugo said, “When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.”
With or without turkey, this month will be a great celebration! How stunningly blessed we are to have in the Catholic faith, the central point, the EUCHARIST as THANKSGIVING. We can trust in Jesus, in the Eucharist. Electrify the whole world by breaking all barriers that separate us and treat everyone with dignity and respect as Jesus did. Have a marvelous season of Thanksgiving and gratitude.