Category Archives: Local News

St. Vincent de Paul Volunteers Honored in Many

Delores Weber and Brenda Sepulvado of St. John the Baptist Parish in Many were recently honored for their dedicated service to the local conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Pictured are Deacon Mike Sullivan and Fr. Francis Kamau, FMH with Delores Weber and Brenda Sepulvado.

Diocese of Shreveport Annual Financial Report for 2018

Click to download and read the full report in PDF.

Catholics and Methodists: Working Together to Bring Christ’s Message of Love to the Poor and Vulnerable

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)has been working together with area Methodist churches to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ’s message of love to the poor and vulnerable by providing quality social services to families and individuals without discrimination. Through the relationships that have been established with local United Methodist Churches, CCNLA is carrying out its vision statement: Together we invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.

Since 2013, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana and First United Methodist Church (FUMC) Shreveport have established a partnership in which FUMC financially supports the Emergency Assistance Program at CCNLA on a monthly basis. In fact, although FUMC does manage a grant system open to organizations in the community, CCNLA holds the distinction of being one of only just a handful of local organizations that FUMC has decided to include as a line item on their annual budget.

“We love the way they do the program, constantly assessing it and finding ways to make it bigger and better,” said Michelle Osborn, Director of Local Missions at FUMC Shreveport. “We feel that the Catholic Charities organization is a very good steward of [our] funds.”

Osborn and her department refer the many people who contact FUMC every month for rent and utility assistance directly to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana. She estimates that no less than five people a day contact her office asking for help, a figure that she feels is extremely conservative.

“We really believe in what that program does,” Osborn said. “We really do. And we need it.”

A direct result of this partnership is that FUMC Shreveport recently announced that it is increasing its annual funding to CCNLA.

Broadmoor United Methodist Church regularly supports CCNLA’s Gabriel’s Closet program through their donations of baby items and clothing. A year-round drop-off center is located at Broadmoor Methodist for members to donate items for Gabriel’s Closet and a baby’s crib holds the donations until they are delivered to Catholic Charities multiple times throughout the year.

This past summer, Catholic Charities was honored when Shawn Hornsby, Associate Minister at First United Methodist Church in Monroe, accepted a position as a board member for CCNLA. Hornsby saw the value in what Catholic Charities does and advocated for funding from FUMC Monroe to support the Emergency Assistance Program that CCNLA now receives.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana continues to be blessed by the relationships with these other churches and look forward to what more we can do together in 2019!

Knights Raise Funds to Purchase Ultrasound Machine

story and photos by Kelly Phelan Powell

One of the most encouraging signposts in the recent years of the pro-life movement is the enthusiastic involvement of men. So often shouted down and scolded that abortion is a matter of women’s (and only women’s) “reproductive freedom,” many men, Catholic men in particular, are finally finding their places and voices within this life-or-death issue. The Knights of Columbus (KoC) Ultrasound Initiative is one of the most crucial ways local men are aiding the movement.

Four local councils of the Knights of Columbus raised several thousand dollars through activities such as the baby bottle campaign, in which empty baby bottles are distributed to individuals and families who fill them with money, then return them, and the Knights use the money to support local culture-of-life programs. A church and KoC council in Baton Rouge that closed contributed about $10,000. Together with matching funds from the Supreme (national) Council, all these donations enabled the staff at Mary’s House Pregnancy Care Center to purchase a new abdominal ultrasound machine.

At the official presentation of the new machine at Mary’s House on January 4, ultrasound technician Julie Draper told the assembled knights, “This technology literally saves lives.”
Marian Council Grand Knight John Walker agreed. “It brings an awareness to the woman of the condition of herself and the baby. She can see for herself that it’s not just tissue – it’s a living organism. By seven weeks [gestation], you can see the baby’s heartbeat.”

The fight for life is an important issue to every knight. Rooted in the four principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, the Knights of Columbus endeavor to “build a culture of life and a civilization of love” through programs like the March for Life and the Special Olympics, in addition to the Ultrasound Initiative and countless prayers, rosaries and fundraising activities.

Sonographer Julie Draper, Clinic Director, Trisha Johnson, and Mary's House founder L'Anne Sciba.

Walker, a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1986, said a local KoC council is a great place for any man interested in furthering the cause of life. “Every life is precious, no matter the age,” he said. The Supreme Council publicly set a goal in 2017 to save 1 million unborn lives with the help of technology that helps mothers choose life over abortion. Knights of Columbus CEO, Carl Anderson, said they will accomplish this by placing 1,000 ultrasound machines in pregnancy care centers by the time the Ultrasound Initiative reaches its 10th anniversary this year. Machines donated by the Knights are already in use in all 50 states.

The new technology available to pregnant women at Mary’s House will no doubt make it clear to hundreds of mothers just how precious the tiniest lives are. The new ultrasound machine replaces an old machine from the ‘90s – obviously, not the clearest picture or sound available today.

As if to underscore just how vital these machines can be to the cause of life, the very first mother who had a scan by the new machine discovered she was expecting twins. Though there are few studies regarding the effect of ultrasound viewing on women’s abortion decisions, Draper told the Knights of Columbus assembled on January 4 that, in her time at Mary’s House, only one woman has ever made the decision to have an abortion after seeing her child in the womb via ultrasound. That’s a powerful testimony to the impact of this equipment, to say nothing of the women who work at Mary’s House.

Another way to support Mary’s House and the cause of life is by attending the Annual Pro-Life Banquet, the Fête For Life – A Mary’s House Pregnancy Care Center Fundraiser at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19, at the Bossier City Civic Center. For tickets and more information, please visit or call 318- 220-8009.

Saying Goodbye to Father Richard Lombard

by Lucy Medvec

Fr. Lombard is why my family is at St. Joseph. When he baptized our son in 1995, and one year later welcomed me into the Catholic Church, our family knew that we had found a home. He made St. Joseph Church a special place for all of us because he loved this parish so much; and as Fr. Long said at Mass, because he loved every one of us so much. We were his family. Fr. Lombard had that special gift of making everyone feel special – we all believed that we were his favorite.  He was wise, quiet and kind, sometimes stubborn and gruff, but he was always faithful and had a heart of gold. I only knew him for the past 25 years, but I would have loved to have seen him as a priest in his younger days.

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking of my favorite memories and stories of Fr. Lombard – you know we all have at least one. Like the time a baby yelled “YAY” at the end of the Alleluia and he got so tickled, he could barely read the Gospel. We all laughed along with him, which made him laugh even more. Or the time that Mark, my husband, was in the ER for a minor heart issue, yet he panicked and believed that the end was near because Fr. Lombard immediately came to see him.

He was a humble servant who lived a simple life filled with love for God and for all of us. He encouraged so many of us to do more for St. Joseph than just attend weekly Mass. He believed that each of us had a special gift – our time, talent, and treasure – that would enrich our lives and those of our fellow parishioners. Years ago someone told me their nickname for him – The Great Lombardo. This name eventually morphed in our household into The Great One. That was what we called him within our family, but it was with sincerity and love. So as we celebrate his life, let us always remember the man who gave us a home at St. Joseph Parish that is filled with love. I am thankful to have known Fr. Richard Lombard and am blessed to have had him in our family’s life.

I think all of you will agree with me when I say that God truly blessed us when he sent us The Great One. •

Priestly Vocations Bloom from Louisiana Tech University

by Brother Mike Ward, OFM

On Saturday, November 10, Fr. Luke LaFleur presided at the wedding of Abbey Simoneaux and Jack LaFreniere. This was Fr. Luke’s first wedding as a priest, as he was just ordained this past May at the Cathedral in Alexandria. Both Abbey and Fr. Luke were students at Louisiana Tech and very active members of the Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Student Center in Ruston.

Bro. Michael Ward, OFM, the Campus Minister at St. Thomas, served as deacon. This was the first time that Bro. Michael and Fr. Luke celebrated a Mass together. Bro. Mike was Fr. Luke’s spiritual director at Louisiana Tech as Luke discerned his vocation to the priesthood while studying electrical engineering.

The stoles they both wore were handmade by Suzi Broussard of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. They were gifts to Fr. Luke from his fellow classmates who were members of ACTS and attended Tech. Suzi was able to stitch each of their signatures on the inside of the priest’s stole to commemorate
Fr. Luke’s ordination.

Over 50 ACTS alumni attended the wedding at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan, LA. At the moment three students from ACTS and Louisiana Tech are studying for the priesthood in Louisiana! •

Ouachita Parish to Host Bingo on the Delta 2019

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA)announces their 2nd Annual Bingo on the Delta fundraising event will be held at the West Monroe Convention Center on Saturday, February 2, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. All proceeds will benefit CCNLA programs in Northeast Louisiana and the Eastern Deanery service areas.

As before, clergy from churches in North Louisiana will serve as bingo callers. Tickets will include dinner and two bingo cards. There will be raffle prizes and a cash bar. Dress is casual for the adults-only event and wearing your team colors is encouraged. Table sponsorships are available and begin at $750. If registered by January 11, sponsors will be recognized in all media and materials.

This year’s football theme will prepare fans for Super Bowl Sunday the night after our event, as we plan to spend an evening in food, fun and fellowship. Join us as we celebrate what Catholic Charities is doing to help the poor and vulnerable of Northeast Louisiana!

Please contact Tiffany Olah at 318-865-0200, ext. 109, or at for a sponsorship form or for more information.

Saint Brigid of Kildare

by Kim Long

How many of us who have chosen a Confirmation saint with no real knowledge of the strength and insight they hold for us? That is certainly the case between St. Brigid of Kildare and myself. I will confess that I chose her to please my mother, but as my Catholic life has unfolded she has revealed herself to be a woman of many gifts.

Who was she? Born in Ireland around 451, she is reported to be the child of Brocca, a Christian slave, who was reported to be baptized by St. Patrick, and Dubthacth, a chief of Leinster. From a young age, she was known for her purity and piety. Later she prayed for her beauty to be taken away to dissuade any suitors. Legend has it that she was rendered physically unattractive, but as soon as she took her vows to be a nun, her beauty was restored.

Hospitality St. Brigid is known to have worked many miracles, and two of the most well-known center on hospitality and feeding the hungry. Her mother worked in a dairy and Brigid frequently gave away the produce to feed the hungry and poor. The produce always multiplied. From a very early age she was known for giving away anything that would help people and it was always “miraculously” replaced.

Woman of Learning Brigid desired above all things to serve God in the world around her. She also had enough sense to know she needed helpers. Ireland’s Christianity in those days was a monastic one, the nuns and monks engaged in hard physical labor and many hours of prayer. She founded a dual monastery in Cill Dara, which we know today as Kildare. Built atop an earlier pagan site where there was already a tradition of flame tending, Brigid and her sisters kept the fire burning to symbolize the light of Christ.

Gerald of Wales visited Kildare in the 12th century and gave witness that the flame still burned. It is believed to have done so until the 16th century, when the monasteries were suppressed.

The sacred flame was re-lit in 1993 by the head of the Brigidine Sisters. It still burns today – I have seen it myself and visited with some of “the good sisters” in that order.

Standing in their home in Kildare and receiving a blessing from them was one of the holiest moments of my life. I thought back to the day of my Confirmation so many years ago and was struck by how perfect St. Brigid was as my choice for a spiritual leader. I also thought back to all the bonfires my children and I gathered around and the stories we told. The light of Christ burns as brightly as we allow it to, whenever we are open to it.

Patronage and Spirituality The phrase Celtic spirituality can be a bit “charged.” I found this out after working on the Brigid feast at St. Mary of the Pines for a couple of years. Some people feared I was leading us into the waters of the New Age.

One of St. Brigid’s quotes is “Christ dwells in every living thing.” This is an old concept and a holy one. This quote from the Book of Lismore gives us more insight into her personal spirituality and piety:

“Abstinent, she was innocent, she was prayerful, she was patient; she was glad in God’s commandments; she was firm, she was loving; she was a consecrated casket for keeping Christ’s body and His blood; she was a temple of God, her heart and mind were a throne of rest for the Holy Ghost.”

Not exactly a woman with whom one trifles, nor doubts their devotion to the one God, Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. She was a woman who saw the hand of God and the heart of Christ in everything and every place around her. This is one of the legacies of the early Celtic Christian communities whose lives were not easy, who worked hard and found solace in the smallest of things. A wonderful lesson for each of us.

St. Brigid’s feast day is formally celebrated on February 1, but at St. Mary’s we celebrate it annually on the last Sunday in January. All are welcome to celebrate with us.  •

Saint Brigid Celebration at St Mary of the Pines

January 27: Celebrate the life and mission of St. Brigid of Kildare with a Bilingual Rosary at 8:30 a.m. (Irish and English) and Mass at 9:00 a.m. Immediately following Mass there will be an Irish brunch served along with singing, dancing and a children’s corner. If you are Irish by birth or marriage and would like to participate in the entrance procession, please call Kim in the parish office, 318-687-5121. 

Congratulations Seminarians

Year-End Giving

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship

In these times of rapid change, the end of the year can be an excellent time to review your important financial matters, especially those dealing with your desire to make any charitable gift to the Church before December 31, 2018. With changes to federal tax laws constantly being proposed, giving to the Church this year may save you more.

One of the last tax savings opportunities completely within your personal control are your monetary gifts provided for supporting the ministry of the Church. Naturally, the higher your tax bracket, the more your charitable Church gifts will save you. The amount you save depends on tax rates and the portion of your gifts you are allowed to deduct. Facilitating your financial incentives to give to the Church before year’s end can significantly reduce the amount of taxes you will owe next April.

Gifts of Cash

Most of the Church’s faithful give in this way in the form of cash, donating online, electronic transfers or personal checks. When you itemize your tax deductions, up to one half of your Adjusted Gross Income or AGI can be positively affected by gifts of this nature.

Gifts of Appreciated Property

Mutual funds, bonds, securities or individual stocks that have risen in value can result in tax savings. If you have owned these items for more than one year, they can be deducted from your income tax at full value. This also gives you the added advantage of avoiding capital gains tax due on a sale instead of a gift.

Some of your investments may have decreased in value as 2018 comes to a close. Consider selling them and making a charitable gift of the cash you receive for them. This creates a loss you may be able to deduct from other income subject to taxation, along with the amount of the cash donation. Remember that any tax deductions you choose not to use this year, may be carried forward for up to five future tax years.

Life Insurance Gifts

You may own an insurance policy that has accumulated cash value, but is no longer needed for its original purpose. You have the option of gifting the value of that policy to the Church and benefitting from welcome income tax savings.

Estate Plans

December is also an excellent month to review your immediate and long-range estate and financial plans. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies and wills are just some of the tools of estate planning that can leave a lasting legacy to the Church. These meaningful future gifts can also generate income while providing immediate tax savings. After your loved ones have been provided for, consider leaving a specific amount or a percentage, or the residue of your estate to the Church.

Action Equals Benefits

If you want to take advantage of the strategies listed above, the month of December is the time to act. See your advisors and accountant to provide you with your specific needs and spend time right now to decide on how best to make your year-end gifts work best for you and the Church you love. For more information on how your year-end or planned gift can help both you and the Church, contact the Diocesan Office of Stewardship at 800-256-1542.


Appeal Sunday Slated for February 17, 2019

The Masses of February 16-17, 2019 have been selected to launch our 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Campaign. Please mark your calendars and begin to plan now on how you can gift your time, talent and treasure to the good of our combined ministry to the people of this region.

Appeal highlights for the coming year will be featured in the February issue of your Catholic Connection and don’t forget, additional Appeal donations received at the Catholic Center on or before December 31 can be attributed to your charitable contributions on your Federal Income tax form for 2018.  •