Category Archives: Local News

Kids Help Others in Need at St. Jude Parish

St. Jude students held a food drive for the Christ the King Food Bank and also collected gently used toys for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to distribute. Additionally, each child made “Friendship Soup” in a jar to donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Meeting the Needs of Hispanics in Many

by Shirley Rivers

Meeting the spiritual needs of a growing Hispanic population is a challenge, even to our larger diocesan parishes. But, what does a small rural parish with limited resources do to accommodate those needs?

St. John the Baptist, a parish of approximately 150 families, has been striving over the last few years to better accommodate the Hispanic Catholic families who live in the Many and Toledo Bend area. With much hard work and the support of several people and the church’s pastor, Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH, the ministry is moving forward.

A Spanish Mass is held on the first Sunday of each month.

Fr. Fidel MondragÓn has volunteered to make the hour drive from Shreveport every other month to celebrate the Mass. Fr. Kamau has been learning Spanish and celebrates Mass when Fr. MondragÓn is unable to attend. After each Spanish Mass, a meal is held in the church hall. In the near future, Fr. MondragÓn will begin hearing confessions in Spanish.

Recently, Fr. Kamau appointed two members of the Hispanic community to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council to provide better input on the spiritual needs of their families and friends. With the help of the St. John the Baptist Parish Director of Religious Education, Jean Rains, printed materials in Spanish, including Stations of the Cross, Missalettes, Bibles and prayer books have been ordered. Jean is also planning to schedule home visits, transportation and Sacrament preparation to better serve the needs of the Hispanic population.

Parishioner Shirley Veuleman, a retired Spanish teacher, also donates her time to teach English classes. She also translates the Sunday’s readings into Spanish for publication in the weekend bulletin.

Thus far, the largest celebration held at St. John the Baptist Parish is for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A special Mass is celebrated in December followed by a celebration of food and fellowship. Over time, the celebration has become more elaborate and is expected to expand in the future.

With prayer, the hard work of many, and collaboration with the local Hispanics, St. John the Baptist Parish is dedicated to better meeting the needs of a growing population.

April 28th: Divine Mercy Sunday


by Julia Doolin

The second Sunday of Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy. This year, the feast falls on April 28. For the last 15 years, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport have alternated hosting a Divine Mercy Sunday Holy Hour. Those who are involved with this event have been inspired by the manner in which the devotion has grown in our diocese. This year, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host the holy hour with Very Reverend Peter B. Mangum, Diocesan Administrator, presiding. 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 offered immediately following the holy hour.

The Divine Mercy devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930’s and is based upon private revelations to a young Polish nun whom we now know 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: God is merciful and forgiving and 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 eight days before or after the indulgenced act), Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of the 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!)

We are grateful to have the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event. Please join us at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans (939 Jordan Street in Shreveport) on Sunday, April 28, at 2:30 p.m. for a wonderful opportunity to experience God’s unfathomable mercy.

Bossier Church Helps Provide Beds to Children


by Mary Ann Van Osdell

Don Harper is seeing to it that “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town” and Mary, Queen of Peace Parish is helping him achieve that goal.

Harper oversees Sleep In Heavenly Peace, a non-profit that partners with organizations, churches and businesses to hold “Build Days” during which beds are built from scratch. But the cost for a bed, $175, must be in hand first.

Harper spoke to the Mary, Queen of Peace Ladies Guild at the request of member Donna Grimaldi about their organization. As a result, pastor Fr. Nicholas Onyach, FMH, allowed for Ash Wednesday and March 10 collections to benefit this project. More than $1,200 was donated, enough for seven beds. Additionally, the church collected more than 20 sets of new sheets to go with the new beds. One hundred percent of donations go toward Sleep in Heavenly Peace. This organization works with Lowe’s, who gives them a discount on supplies, and Johnson’s Furniture who works with them on mattress prices.

So who can help with beds? Anyone! No woodworking experience is needed. At one build, Harper said he had volunteers from age 10 all the way to age 70. Volunteers are supervised and tools are supplied.

Twenty beds can be built in about three hours, he said. They may be single twin or bunk. Bunk beds have scripture under the top bed for the child on the bottom to read.

The beds are delivered assembled to an appreciative home, complete with a mattress, bedding and pillow.

“Kids will be ready to be tucked in,” Harper said. Some of the deliveries have come with bibles provided by Lifeway Christian Store.

To qualify to receive a bed, a family must be sleeping in one bed with parents or siblings, on the floor, a couch, futon or between two chairs. Applicants for a new bed may apply online at

Once an application is received, a selection committee will review it. Selecting a recipient isn’t done on a first-come, first served basis, but based on which children need beds the most, Harper said.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace makes and delivers beds as supplies and donations allow. When they’re out of beds or bedding, they file unselected applications away until they can make more.
Founded in Idaho in 2012, Sleep In Heavenly Peace is the only charity providing handmade bunk beds to children who don’t have their own. There are 140 chapters in 40 states, Bossier’s being the 86th (it serves Caddo Parish, also). The only other one in Louisiana is in Cutoff.

Harper was watching Mike Rowe’s Returning the Favor, a reality web television series in which he searches for people giving back, when it featured Sleep in Heavenly Peace. While he was watching the show, he said his “eyes starting leaking a little bit” and he told his wife he wanted to do this project.
In a year, Harper’s chapter has made 52 beds and delivered 38. The remaining beds are waiting to be delivered once mattresses and linens can be secured. There are currently 78 people on a waiting list. •

Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Good Friday Way of the Cross & Walk for Justice


by Jim Beadles, President, Shreveport Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

For more than 20 years, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has sponsored the Good Friday Way of the Cross and Walk for Justice in downtown Shreveport. The purpose of the event is to not only follow Christ in his Passion on the Way of the Cross, but also to recognize the efforts of multiple local agencies that put the Passion into practice by serving those in need.

The event continues to grow, and last year, more than 150 people participated. It is truly a community and ecumenical event. We are honored that our friends at First United Methodist Church graciously offer their property as the gathering place for both the beginning and end of the event. Along the way, we are privileged to have music from the New Dimension Youth Chorale.

In addition to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and First United Methodist Church, we also are joined by the following agencies: Mary’s House, The Fuller Center, Christian Services, MLK Health Center, The Mercy Center, Hope House, Holy Cross Episcopal, The Providence House, The Hub Ministries, Louisiana Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana and VOA Lighthouse.

The event covers approximately 1.4 miles. It is a service of 14 prayers at 14 sites/stations. Representatives from the agencies will lead each station prayer. Another reason to participate is to learn more about each of the agencies and their ministries. We are all called to be more than observers. We are all called to discipleship. Perhaps you will find a calling to mission and ministry of one of these agencies as they serve those in need in our community.

There is plenty of parking behind First United Methodist Church at the head of Texas Street, downtown. We will begin the walk at 9:00 a.m., and it should be completed no later than 11:00 a.m. If it rains, the event will be moved to Holy Trinity Catholic Church located at 315 Marshall Street, also in downtown Shreveport.

This is a perfect way to move toward Easter. All who attend find it to be a meaningful experience. Please plan to join us at this year’s St. Vincent de Paul Walk For Justice. We hope to see you there.

When: Good Friday, April 19, 2019
Where: Behind First United Methodist Church,
head of Texas Street, downtown Shreveport
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Rain Venue: Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Volunteers are the Heart of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana


by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Each year Catholic Charities of North Louisiana hosts separate Volunteer Appreciation events for volunteers at both the Shreveport and Monroe offices. These are the times when CCNLA celebrates those who give to the organization simply out of service and love. They are the heart of the organization, these men and women who devote time and energy at both offices are vital to smooth office operations. You could say they are our lifeline because without them, it would be impossible to do all that we are able to do.

Many volunteers help make a difference at CCNLA every day. For example, Shirley Cashio has been volunteering at Catholic Charities since 2011. As a former nursing school teacher at Northwestern State University, she brings health and medical knowledge to the Gabriel’s Closet classes she teaches, as well as the ability to identify when a child might need specific medical attention. Maria Colon, a former librarian, has been volunteering with Gabriel’s Closet for the past two years. When her husband passed away in 2016, she had recently retired and she was looking for a way to spend her time giving back to others. Betty Mirts began volunteering at CCNLA eight years ago because of her interest in early childhood development. Her role today can be described as the Gabriel’s Closet Volunteer Coordinator and she dedicates every Monday and Thursday afternoon to Gabriel’s Closet.

Richard Goorley, a retired attorney, has recently been tending to the community garden on our property. He has been diligently working on revitalizing and bringing it back to life. Mary Ellen Foley, a former board member, continues to serve Catholic Charities by coming in every Friday afternoon to help sort and organize client files, make copies and other general office duties. Theresa George, a new volunteer who also works full-time, comes in once a week during her lunch break to help with data entry. The volunteers at CCNLA have diverse backgrounds, but share the common desire to serve others.

CCNLA is always looking for volunteers for Gabriel’s Closet, whether to teach a class or help sort donations. We always need volunteers to help teach our weekly Money School class and our Immigration Services program could use help organizing client files. Volunteers are also needed to help plan and execute the many annual fundraising events that Catholic Charities hosts throughout the year. These are only some of the needs CCNLA has that volunteers could help with. Currently, we have a great need for volunteers in our Monroe and Lake Providence offices.
Volunteers are an integral part of CCNLA’s success. There are always more tasks to be done than time in a day. With the volunteers’ help, CCNLA can devote time helping more clients, create awareness in the community and raise funds for additional programming. This way, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana can continue its mission to bring Christ’s message of love to the poor and vulnerable by providing quality social services to families and individuals without discrimination and in accordance with Catholic social teachings and professional standards.

** Volunteers at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana must attend a three-hour training class presented by the Diocese of Shreveport. These classes are offered at different locations throughout the diocese. A volunteer application, confidentiality agreement and a background check form and consent must also be completed. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering at CCNLA, please email Tiffany Olah at or call at 318-865-0200 x109.

A Message from Our Diocesan Administrator

by Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum

Appeal Sunday occurred last month on February 17, and thanks to the generous support of our faithful, we are off to a good start on this year’s campaign. If you have already 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 March 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 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found below. You may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. You can also visit our website at, and click on the “Donate Now” button on our home page. Those making pledges this month will receive their first Appeal statement in the month of April.

Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Contest

The National Right to Life is sponsoring its annual Pro-Life Oratory Contest. The competition is open to all high school juniors and seniors, who will address the issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research in five to seven minute oral presentations.

The Shreveport-Bossier contest, now in its 31st year, is sponsored locally by the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport and will be held on Thursday, April 25, at 6:00 p.m. at the Catholic Center, 3500 Fairfield Ave., Shreveport. The contest is open to the public at no charge. The local first place prize is $500. The winner will represent Shreveport at the state contest.

The state contest will be held in Baton Rouge this year, on May 4 at the Louisiana Knights of Columbus Convention. The state winner will receive $500 cash, plus expenses paid (up to $1,000) to go to Nationals.
All high school juniors and seniors are eligible, there may be more than one student entered from each school.

For additional information and entry blanks, please contact Anthony Fabio, 1908 Carol Street, Bossier City, LA 71112,, or 318-402-6663.
Or visit:

CCNLA Celebrates Staff Diversity

CCNLA staff: Carl Piehl, Suhad Salamah and Allison Kulbeth.


by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) embraces the word “Catholic,” meaning universal, in every sense of the word by employing people of all faiths.

Carl Piehl, who is Jewish, has been with the organization for six years. Piehl is well known in the community for developing the Money School, a financial education course that aims to empower the poor to take control of their future. Piehl came to know the good work being done by CCNLA through the immigration program because he taught English as a Second Language. He loved the interaction between the staff and clients.

“The greatest part of my job is inspiring others to realize the strengths within themselves,” said Piehl. “Though not all of us are Catholic, we embody Catholic social teaching every day through our work.”

Catholic social teaching calls for the respect for human life, importance of family and community, dignity and responsibility for the worker and care for the poor, vulnerable and all of God’s creations.

Two other non-Catholic staff members came to CCNLA by way of a temporary employment agency. Suhad Salamah, who is Muslim, has been with CCNLA since September 2016. She is the State Benefits Manager and oversees Gabriel’s Closet – the parenting program that helps low-income parents with baby essentials.

“I am grateful that I have a chance to serve others,” said Salamah. “The clients are just so appreciative.”

Occasionally, she gets mistaken for a nun because of her hijab, and Salamah finds it humorous when someone calls her “Sister Sue.”

Intake Coordinator Allison Kulbeth, another temporary work referral, was surprised when she first came to the office on East 71st Street. Kulbeth, who is Baptist, didn’t know much about Catholicism before working at CCNLA, but she knew that clients did not have to be Catholic in order to receive help.

“What I like about Catholic Charities is that the people who work here aren’t judgmental. Everyone who walks through our doors is welcomed” said Kulbeth. “Now that I’m the one everyone sees when they first walk in, I try to make everyone feel special.”

Executive Director Meg Goorley is extremely proud of her diverse staff. She said, “The similarities of all of our faiths are greater than the differences between them.”

She added, “We are comfortable with our own faiths, yet learn that each person brings depth and value to the world. My colleagues are a living illustration of the vision of Catholic Charities: Together we invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.”  •

Be More: Northwest Louisiana Catholic Schools Unite


by Jessica Rinaudo

The three Catholic schools in the Shreveport-Bossier area, Loyola College Prep, St. John Berchmans Catholic School and St. Joseph Catholic School, are joining forces. Together school principals, school council members, communications professionals, priests and superintendent Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, have begun meeting to discuss working together to share resources and create a unified Catholic school system in northwest Louisiana.

As part of this effort, several initiatives have launched. The first was to assemble committees, each with a different focus from finances to marketing. The marketing social media team has already begun their work by launching a Shreveport / Bossier Catholic Schools joint Facebook page, where news from all three schools, and in a particular way, news of the schools working together, can be shared with all of those who support Catholic education in the Shreveport / Bossier area.

The Facebook page launched officially in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week 2019, and each day of that week highlighted what the three schools do for their school families, the community and one another. Together the three schools are showing how their students can “Be More,” by attending Catholic schools.

Catholic Schools Week closed with an All Schools Mass at Loyola College Prep – the first to be held in many years – where the three schools celebrated Mass together.  The new Facebook page was used as a platform to live stream Father Matthew Long’s homily at the Mass, in which he fittingly spoke about how together, our schools build the future.

“We are the smallest school system in Northwest Louisiana… A lot of people would look at that and say that’s a bad thing…  But if we listen to the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we know that it’s a good thing, because we are blessed as administrators, as faculty members and as students that we have the ability to know… every one of our students, every one of our peers, every one of our faculty members. … This means we can be more like a family than an organization,” said Fr. Long.

He continued, “But you see, from that small seed of St. John’s and St. Joseph’s and Loyola is the future of northwest Louisiana. It’s the future of our community. It’s the future of our state. It’s the future of our nation. You are the ones who are being cultivated. You are the ones who are being taken care of. You are the ones who are being loved. You are the ones who are being given so much so that when you go forth, you will be able to be leaders. … Because you have received all the tools you need from these Catholic schools.”

“To all of you who are students, I think you should go home and tell your parents, ‘Thank you for making the sacrifice, thank you for loving me so much that you are willing to give me the best that you can.’”
Fr. Long also asked the Loyola students to stand up who attended St. John Berchmans School and St. Joseph School and pointed them out to all the elementary schools in attendance and encouraged them to “be one of the coolest kids in the City of Shreveport and to follow in their footsteps.”

Additionally, as part of this joint schools’ effort, Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, recently brought in a Catholic schools expert, Sr. Carol Cimino, SSJ, Ed.D, to speak to the collective group about different scenarios for both improving our Catholic schools and ways to help them create a bright future.

There are many exciting things happening for Catholic schools in the Shreveport / Bossier area. To follow along, visit and like the Facebook page at