Category Archives: Local News

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

Come Away and Rest for a While

by Joe Bernal, Spiritual Director

Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to some secluded place all by yourselves and rest for a while”. (Mark 6:31).

How often do we say to ourselves, “I wish I had some time to go to a secluded place and get away for a while?” Just like Jesus invited his disciples to “come away,” he also invites us to come and rest for a while.
Just a short three-hour drive away, Our Lady of the Oaks Jesuit Retreat house is a well kept secret. Head south on I-49 towards Lafayette and take exit 11 to find the 80-year old Spanish style house situated on the grounds of the Jesuit communities in the small town of Grand Coteau.

Our Lady of the Oaks was dedicated to the Greater Glory of God and the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The facility features a library, reading room, chapel, private visit chapel, enclosed courtyard, dining room, gazebos, beautiful landscaping and 51 rooms for occupancy. The grounds surrounding the retreat house are spacious and magnificent, with many grand old oaks, azalea-lined walkways and quiet places for reflection.
Since 1938, the Retreat House has offered thousands of men, women, and married couples a place to relax, time to reflect and time to pray. Anyone seeking peace and a closer relationship with God is welcome to attend.

A retreat at the Oaks offers:

“Time to relax … The refreshing thing about a retreat is our release from the daily grind. We get away from business problems and family worries. The quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the Retreat house will slow our pace and gradually draw our thoughts from daily demands. Doing this allows us to reflect on our life and the direction it is taking.

Time to reflect … We will be free to think without interruptions in the silence of the weekend. Free to get a fresh start on our lives and on our relationships with family, friends and God.
Time to pray … In the quiet of the chapel, in the peacefulness of the courtyard with the water flowing in the fountain, or in the beauty of the tree-lined paths, we will find the atmosphere for praying to God … to thank Him, to praise Him, to ask for His guidance.”1

The Preached Weekend Retreat is an adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. The retreat is a process of prayer, reflection and discernment that helps bring a person to freedom in order to hear God’s call and to respond in faith.

The Preached Weekend Retreat also offers the mature disciple, a person with a strong desire to mature in Christ, a time of silence and quiet, some instruction, daily Mass and opportunities for reconciliation and communion. Also available are traditional forms of piety including recitation of the rosary and the Stations of the Cross. During the retreat, Jesuit priests are available for confession and counseling.
For more information and to schedule a retreat at Our Lady of the Oaks in Grand Coteau, LA, visit their website at, or contact the office by telephone (337) 662-5410 or e-mail:  •

Joe Bernal is a parishioner at St. Paschal Parish in West Monroe, a spiritual director for the Diocese of Shreveport and a retreat director at Our Lady of the Oaks.

1 Used with permission from Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House.

CCNLA Hosted Volunteer Lunch

To thank the many volunteers who share their time, talent and treasure with Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, CCNLA hosted a special Volunteer Appreciation Brunch in their honor on February 15th. (8)

Sarpy Speaker at Magnificat Brunch

The NOWELA Chapter of Magnificat hosts regular brunches with guest speakers. On February 9, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish member, Maxine Sarpy was the group’s speaker and filled the group of women gathered for the event with joy and inspiration.

Monroe March for Life

St. Thomas Aquinas parishioners Mary Carol Vidrine and Mary Ghongkedze participated in Monroe’s Northeast Louisiana Life March on January 27.

Seminarian Gives Students Church History Lesson

When Seminarian Jeb Key decided to spend his pastoral year at St. Joseph Parish, he probably thought he would be the only one learning and growing in faith. The 8th grade class of St. Joseph School, however, has learned from him. When Jeb heard that 8th grade students were approaching the date of the ACRE test (Assessment of Child/Youth Religious Education), which includes Church history, he volunteered to share what he has learned in seminary with them. He presented information about such topics as the Eastern and Western Churches, the Battle of Milvian Bridge, and the Crusades, and created a Google slide presentation, which the students then used to create study sets for themselves.


VFW Gives Valentines to PSR Students

Religion children of St. Joseph Parish in Zwolle and St. Ann Church in Ebarb were gifted with valentine treat bags from the Zwolle-Ebarb Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5187.

Fr. Hoye Mission at St. Mary of the Pines

For three nights, February 10 – 12, Fr. Ron Hoye presented a parish mission at St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport to help attendees prepare for Lent. Pictured are Fr. John Paul Crispin, Fr. Ron Hoye and Fr. Michael Thang’wa.

World Marriage Day Celebrated in Many

Joining churches throughout the world, St. John the Baptist Parish and St. Terence Church honored married couples on World Marriage Day on February 10. Each couple with a significant anniversary in 2019 was presented with a certificate of recognition by Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH, pastor. Shown are Patrick and Syble Wright Gandy who are celebrating 58 years of marriage.