Category Archives: Features

Catholic Charities: North Louisiana’s Good Samaritan

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by Lucy Medvec

Who will you help today?

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are called by Jesus to go forth and treat our neighbors with mercy, even those we do not know. This simple directive is the guiding principle for the employees and volunteers of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s Monroe office as they work hard each day to help those who are most in need.

Since opening its doors in May 2016, the staff and volunteers in Monroe have worked with hundreds of individuals to provide financial education, tangible assistance for rent and utilities, donations of food and clothing, and most importantly, a sense of compassion. Their daily efforts align with CCNLA’s overall vision of working together to invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.

Located across the street from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, the CCNLA office is off the beaten path from businesses and other nonprofit agencies, but in the past year it has made its presence known in the community. In fact, when the Louisiana 2-1-1 call center released its latest report, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana had more referrals than any other agency in the region.

Catholic Charities is one of many organizations in Northeast Louisiana that provides assistance with rent or utility payments, but it is the only nonprofit that requires an education component in order for clients to receive assistance. That important component comes from The Money School, CCNLA’s weekly class that offers financial education on money management, budgeting, expense tracking and more. The class is taught by Program Coordinator Joann Worley, who then meets with each client to thoroughly assess their financial situation. The concept of The Money School was slow to catch on in Monroe; for the first month of operation attendance was sparse.  That quickly changed as class attendance is now at full capacity (15 clients/students each week).

Other programs offered in the Monroe office include Gabriel’s Corner (offering baby necessities and clothing to parents of small children), food pantry and Gentleman’s Rack and Ladies’ Career Clothes (providing adult clothing for job interviews). CCNLA also offers immigration legal services and seminars to Northeast Louisiana through monthly visits from the Shreveport immigration staff. The work of the immigration staff helps reach clients in rural areas who previously had to travel to Jackson or New Orleans for assistance.

All of this work is done with limited resources and time. For as many clients that seek assistance from CCNLA, three times as many are turned away because of limited funds. Currently, the Monroe office is open three days a week with a part-time staff consisting of Worley and two office assistants, Marilyn Landry and Brenda Taylor, splitting one part-time position. Volunteers are also crucial to the operation of this office, which sees in excess of 30 clients each week. Whether a client is coming for rental or utility assistance, clothing, food or other help, the Monroe staff is able to provide aid through CCNLA’s resources or refer them to another local agency.

How can the Monroe community support Catholic Charities in its role as Good Samaritan? The biggest need is financial resources. The current financial assistance budget is $12,000 per year – a small amount considering the number of emergency requests the office receives each week. Volunteers and donations of clothing and food are always appreciated, but in order to take the next step of becoming a full-time social services agency in Northeast Louisiana, support from the community must rise to a level that can meet the need.

As the Monroe office nears its two year anniversary, it reaches a crossroad for its future in Northeast Louisiana. Donations from the community have grown over the past two years, but not in relation to the amount of financial need that is requested. CCNLA’s first major fundraiser, “Bingo on the Delta,” will be held this month in West Monroe. Already a sold-out success its previous two years in Shreveport, the bingo fundraiser is a casual evening of dinner and bingo, with local priests and nuns serving as the bingo callers. Staff members look forward to members of the Eastern Deanery embracing this event and making it successful for years to come.

Since its founding in 2010, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana continues to help those who have been passed by or overlooked in our community. As an important charitable partner of the Diocese of Shreveport, CCNLA will continue to show mercy and be the Good Samaritan of North Louisiana.

Bishop’s Reflection: Live in a Way That Embraces Eternal Life

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” 2Tim. 4:6-8

Do you remember the movie, The Bucket List? The movie is about two terminally ill men who meet in a hospital room and decide to try and empty their “bucket lists” – their lists of all the things they want to do before they die, before they “kick the bucket.” Luckily, one of the men is a millionaire and they set out to do as much as they can before they die.

And while we might all have these kinds of lists and hopes, I am certain that a bucket list is not a big enough goal for us as Christians who believe in and stand in the light of the Resurrection of Christ. Just a few days ago, on the first day of this month (no foolin’), we celebrated Easter Sunday and proclaimed with faith-filled voices, “The Lord is Risen.” With this proclamation, we confessed our faith: that our lives do not end with the death of our physical bodies, but rather are reborn to an eternal life. So if this is our faith, then the motivating principle of our lives should not be “to do as much as we can before we die,” but rather we should say, “I want to do as much as I can to be ready for Eternal Life, to be ready to enter the heavenly kingdom where every tear is wiped away and I will never die again.”

This is actually a more positive and freeing way to look at life. First, we avoid the constant feeling of frustration because of the things we never got to do. We also avoid the constant sadness resulting from death approaching and robbing us of opportunity and freedom. We stop looking at death as this inevitable thief and see it though the eyes of faith as the path to our own Resurrection.

When we are focused on getting ready for our Resurrection, we do not stop living but we may live differently and live, in fact, more intentionally and integrally. Here are two attitudes that may be changed by seeing the ending of this life as the beginning of eternal life.

Sacrificial love takes on a new, positive meaning in our lives. To love sacrificially means that we need to give our limited time, energy, and maybe even treasure, to help someone we love or live up to the demands of our commitments of love. This can be hard to do if we see our time as “running out,” or that we are losing time before we die to do what we want. But if we see our life with an eternal plan, we are able to see that love is the way we get ready for eternal life, that there will be a reward for this act of love maybe in this life (and there often is), but certainly we will be rewarded in the joy of eternal life.

Living more simply, we know, allows us time and energy to be freer to concentrate on relationships of love with family, spouse, children and friends. It allows us to deepen our relationship with God and to make time for those who need our help. If we are preparing for the next life, we will tend to live more simply, choosing to lighten our load as we age instead of accumulating as though we will live forever. We will put our time and effort into the heavenly treasure we can take with us, and this lasting treasure is always gifted to us through love.

I do not want to sound like we should be happy to die, but rather I am suggesting a deeper spiritual orientation. If we are living to only empty our bucket list, then it seems like we are always running from death, even to the point of desperately trying to hold on to our youth, our stuff and our money in order to stave off death and live like we will never die. We should not live our lives as though we are running from the pursuing Death, but rather let us always be running toward Eternal Life. If we run this “good race,” as Saint Paul calls our life of faith, then we know we will pass through death, but that is not our goal and it will not slow us down. This allows us to live not in fear, but rather in HOPE. Death is not the end, but the portal, the gate to our salvation. That is the positive goal that should motivate our lives and be animated by our faith in Jesus Christ, who showed us the way when He arose from the dead. The more we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, the more we are free to live in the freedom and joy that comes from hope in Life Eternal.

26th Annual Red Mass Set for May 4 at Holy Trinity

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by Jessica Rinaudo & Richard Hiller

The Red Mass, which takes place annually at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in May of each year, has become a fixture in the Diocese of Shreveport. Now in its 26th year, the Mass, which invokes God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice, is well attended by local judges, lawyers and government officials. The Mass always takes place the first Friday in May in conjunction with the nationally recognized Law Week.

The Red Mass has a rich history originating centuries ago in Rome, Paris and London. Its traditional name is derived from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrants of the Mass. Over the centuries, the Red Mass has officially opened the judicial year of the Sacred Roman Rota, the Tribunal of the Holy See. During the reign of Louis IX, Saint Louis of France, La Sainte Chapelle was designated as the Chapel for the Mass and is now used only once a year solely for the Red Mass. In England, the tradition began in the Middle Ages and continued even during World War II when judges and lawyers attended the Red Mass annually at the Westminster Cathedral. The tradition was inaugurated in the United States in 1928 at old St. Andrew’s Church in New York City. Since then, the Red Mass has been celebrated annually there and in many cities in the United States.

Locally, the Red Mass Society of Shreveport has been sponsoring the Mass since 1993. Their primary mission is to organize the annual Red Mass, which includes selecting a homilist and honoree.

Richard Hiller is a local attorney and Chairman of the Red Mass Society. He is excited about this year’s event. Fr. Matthew Long, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport and former attorney, will give the homily, and local non-profits Christian Service and Hope Connections, two organizations that serve the hungry and homeless in our community, will be the honorees.

“What’s also great about the Red Mass is that the music is quite extraordinary. Zion Baptist Church provides the music before Mass. They start at about 8:30 a.m. The Mass begins at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 4, at Holy Trinity Church. The judges and officials gather across the street at the Second Circuit, [then] they walk across,” said Hiller.  “During the service the St. Cecilia Choir provides the music.”

The Red Mass is an ecumenical event with pastors of different faiths coming together to bestow their blessings and prayers on legal professionals. People of all faiths are welcome to join the Red Mass Society and the Diocese of Shreveport at this annual event.  •

Author and EWTN TV Show Host to Give “Feeding Your Family’s Soul” Workshop in Shreveport

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I sat down with Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle, author of Feeding Your Family’s Soul, to talk to her about her book and upcoming workshop in Shreveport on April 28.

 Q: What inspired this idea to set aside dinner time as a dedicated time for teaching the faith to our children?
It just makes sense to me – when the family is gathered for dinner, we have the advantage of a captive audience – a hungry family! Kidding aside, I believe dinner time is a perfect time to teach the Faith because we are all gathered together to break bread, to pray with one another (at least Grace Before Meals), and to converse about our day. I believe that at least once a week we can seize the opportunity to teach the Faith right at the dinner table! I like to encourage families to also pray more while gathered together at the table. The children can voice their prayer intentions. The prayer habits that the family will form now will hopefully be carried into the children’s future domestic churches.

Q: What are some of the reasons dinner time, in particular, is an advantageous time to do this?
Today’s families are pretty much out of time on most days–struggling to check off our “to-do” lists, running ragged getting to all of the sports practices and games, as well as many other activities that can cause us to become exhausted, as well as pull us away from the dinner table. Time to teach the Faith becomes almost non-existent. That’s one reason why I think the family dinner table is a good place to teach the Faith. We can nourish our bodies and our souls!

Most Catholic and Christian families enroll their children in faith formation classes. That is very good. However, the parents and grandparents are called to be THE first and foremost educators of Faith for the children.

The Church has always taught that the family is the vital cell of society and that as a “domestic church” it should mirror the big Church. … There are so many Church teachings to support the necessity of parents teaching the Faith to the children, but Id like to mention at least a few. First of all, the Catechism states, “Parents are the principal and first educators of their children” (1653). As well, “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable” (2221).

In Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) we learn, “Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. The right and duty of parents to give education is essential” (36). These words should truly inspire us to step up to the plate to be our children’s and grandchildren’s Faith educator. … There’s much more, but the point is that the family is so important. We grow in Faith together and work out our salvation together right within the walls of our domestic churches—through the daily give-and-take, the practicing of virtues, and forgiveness—over and over again! We are all works in progress and absolutely need to carve out the time to learn and live the Faith! Teaching the Faith at the dinner table ensures that it will actually happen and not get put off until yet another day because our schedules are so intense.

Q. For an event like the one you will be holding in our diocese, what can people expect to learn?
Hopefully, people can learn ways in which to teach the Faith to their children, as well as how to deal with specific situations, how to be more countercultural, how to set parameters for the dinner table, and more. I hope and pray that folks will also feel a sense of camaraderie being there with other parents and grandparents. As well, I will have my many book titles, DVD’s and other resources available for purchase and book signing.

Q: Will they learn ways to teach the faith to all ages?
I will provide various tips about teaching the Faith to all ages of children.

Q. “Teaching the faith” is such a broad topic, what are some specific ways you encourage families to share their faith at the dinner table?
… One example is in challenging the children. They usually like to be challenged. They want to make you proud! The brief lessons in my book often encourage the family to extend the lesson throughout the week with encouragement to do a little research to share at the table, or to call upon specific saints for help. There are also suggestions for family members to help in certain ways in the family, or to reach out to relatives you might not have contacted in a while and get together for visits (hopefully a meal). I love to encourage families to share a recipe with an older relative and ask them to share one of theirs so that you can keep family traditions going throughout the years. Another type of “extra credit” lesson is in doing Works of Mercy as a family.

“Feeding Your Family’s Soul” will take place on April 28, from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport. Visit www.dioshpt.org to register today!

Loyola Students Memorialize Florida School Shooting Victims

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by Lisa Cooper

In the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting on Ash Wednesday, Loyola students found themselves hurting and desired a way to honor those who were killed. The art students initiated that effort by creating small cards with inspirational scriptures, quotes, paintings or words of encouragement. These cards adorn the small decorative trees in Loyola’s library and serve as a focal point where students can stop and offer prayers for those who have died and their families.

Art teacher Susan Brady says seeing her students’ need to express themselves in the days after the shooting is what prompted the project. “The kids were scared, and they needed to voice their feelings,” said Brady. “We wanted to create something that would respectfully honor those who were killed.”

Senior Chloe Green participated in the project. She was drawn to the project because “news moves on, but I wanted to be part of something that would help us keep in mind the victims.” Green said that every time she or other students see the trees, they are reminded to pray for the families. “Although the world has moved on,” said Green, “those families still struggle with the loss every day.”

Ella Mason

Echoing that sentiment, sophomore Ella Mason said of the shooting, “It’s important for us to acknowledge that what has happened to the victims in Florida is hard, and while we move on with our lives, we need to show respect and support for those families.”

With this aim in her heart, Mason approached Principal LeBlanc with an idea to honor those killed at a special liturgical service on March 14.
“I had been reading about the planned walkouts across the nation, but knew that wasn’t right for us,” said Mason. “I wanted to participate in a show of support that fits our community here.”

In honor of those who were killed in the Parkland shooting, Loyola students joined Fr. Peter Mangum at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans for the readings of the day and the reading aloud of the names of those who died in the shooting. As each name was read, a bell was rung, and students sat in reverent silence. The service closed with prayer for the souls of the faithfully departed and for comfort for those who remain.

Domestic Church: Facing Fear and Difficulty

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by Katie Sciba

I had over 20 tabs open online, all of them for rentals within a 50 mile radius. We needed a three-bedroom house for the seven of us, that would accept a dog and our single, modest, self-employed income – hardly a desirable situation for any landlord. House after house we were turned down, not because of finances or even our four-legged family member, but because of the number of children we had. “Five kids? Sorry, they’ll tear up the property.” At one point our options were whittled down to neighborhoods that were shady at best, places that fit our income but squashed our need for safety. I had spent three months exhaustively combing local real estate to find a home for our odd-shaped family. After coming up empty over and over, I was tired and afraid. Our clock was ticking and our finances were limited.

It was just months before when, expecting our fifth child, Eamon, I was diagnosed with a rare pregnancy disease that had a strong chance of claiming our son’s life without notice. There was no cure and no treatment; the only option we had was to deliver Eamon by C-section at 37 weeks gestation, and not a moment sooner. The symptoms were difficult enough to cope with, but the real agony was the helplessness we felt waiting for our baby’s birth, praying he would survive in my body until we could get him out.

The circumstances were our own, but how many of us can claim similar feelings of hopelessness and fear? In desperate situations, faith feels like a gamble to see if God will pull through or leave us high and dry. Sometimes it seemed as though Heaven had turned a deaf ear and we were left to fend for ourselves. Panic-stricken, sometimes the only prayer I could offer was a tearful “Do you see us?” I was terrified of what would become of our family and whether my husband’s new business would sustain us. I was afraid of life without our fifth child and the profound pain losing him would bring.

One of my favorite verses for times of fear comes from Psalm 143. “I remember the days of old, I meditate on all that thou hast done; I muse on what thy hands have wrought.” Right there in verse 5 is the hope for our present distress. When we recall past trauma, pain or trials, we can see how God pulled us through it and how He carried us when we had no strength. In the face of difficulty, it’s easier to worry than it is to remember God’s past faithfulness, but the fact is hope comes with knowing He has seen us through every adversity leading up to now. My husband told me hundreds of times in those months, “God has never abandoned us and He’s not going to start now,” his own version of the Psalmist’s sentiment.

We’re almost a year past these events and I’m sitting in the living room of our wonderful home with my healthy baby boy asleep down the hall. The Lord provided as He always has and always will. Life turns out problems and pain that to human eyes would seem impossible, yet to God who knows our fears, they are calls to trust in His mercy. •

Mike’s Meditations: Good Catholic, Bad Catholic

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by Mike Van Vranken

There is an interesting story where an official asked Jesus: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18. Jesus peculiarly responds: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” Luke 18:19.

Many times I’ve read that statement and thought, “Yes, Amen, God is good,” and then just moved on. But, I’ve realized Jesus is teaching us here about being human. We can worry too much about being a “good” Catholic/Christian, and forget our goal is to love and serve God. We can fall into idolatry by allowing our desire to “be good” to become our focus – our reason for living. I’ll use the next few verses of this story as an example.

We remember that Jesus lists the 10 commandments to this man as the ways to heaven, and proudly, the man responds that he’s kept them all from his earliest days. In other words, this man is saying: “Hey, I’m a good Jew. I’ve kept all the commandments. I’m saved!” Rather than reviewing how his life has been lived in love and service to God, this man seems only interested in himself; in saving his own soul. Can you see the nuance in this? We are created to praise, love and serve God. In the process, we plan to be in His holy presence for eternity. And surely we want that. But when we make “being good” or keeping the commandments our only purpose, life becomes all about us and not about God. In St. Paul’s words, we become prisoners or slaves to the law.

When we are young, we are sometimes motivated by a reward/punishment system: Clean your room, you get a cookie. Don’t clean your room, no cookie. But when we mature, we realize we clean our room to avoid living in filth – not to get a cookie.

Likewise, when we mature in our faith, we also begin to understand that we keep the commandments, not because they are some rule or law to get us to heaven, but because we praise, love and serve God with our entire being. That’s it. “Being good” does not earn our salvation. God who loves us, who alone is “good,” mercifully grants us our salvation.

Continuing the story may help. Jesus tells the official there is one more thing he can do. Another rule? I don’t think so. Instead, Jesus is saying that when we live a life that is attached to worldly things, we are not free to really love God and our neighbor. The attachment takes all our attention and distracts us from God. Like we can do with the rules themselves, we become prisoners to the worldly attachments. So, Jesus tells the man to give all of his possessions away. Jesus passionately wants this man to experience true freedom. The freedom that results when all of our focus is on loving God and loving everyone else; the freedom to live without the shiny, glittery distractions of all we acquire. Again, I don’t believe Jesus is saying we have to give everything away to “be good.” He’s already told us that God alone is good. In his book: The Good News According to Luke, Fr. Richard Rohr puts it this way: “Live it (the gospel) as best you can and leave the problem of salvation up to God.”

Later on, the apostles ask Jesus, “Then who can be saved?” Luke 18:26. He tells them that even for what is impossible for humans, for God all things are possible. A good reminder that our salvation comes from God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And ironically, it’s when we fall madly, passionately and intimately in love with God, that keeping the commandments becomes our lifestyle. Not that we will do it perfectly, because we won’t. We will make mistakes. But, when we love God with our whole hearts, whole being and whole strength, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves, keeping the commandments is not something we do. It’s who we are.

Whenever we think thoughts like “Good Catholic/Bad Catholic,” change your language to “Love God/Love Neighbor.” Be free of the reward/punishment mentality and allow God to be good – all the time.

The Shroud of Turin: Cathedral to Host Nationally Known Shroud Speaker, Replica Display & Shroud of Turin Podcast Series

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The Shroud of Turin has long been a source of fascination. The burial shroud of a man who many believe was Jesus Christ has both inspired the faithful around the globe and drawn its fair share of skeptics.

The Shroud remains a historical anomaly, a revered relic of the Christian faith, and two scholars on the subject reside in Shreveport. Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, and Dr. Cheryl White, history professor at LSU-Shreveport, are both members of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. Their interest and knowledge on the subject has inspired them to host a unique program at the Cathedral.

Fr. Mangum and Dr. White have launched a podcast on the topic. Entitled “Who is the Man in the Shroud?” Available for download or streaming through www.sjbcathedral.org, or in the Apple podcast store. Every Friday a new episode is posted with Fr. Mangum and Dr. White discussing Shroud related topics such as, “Bloodstains: What Do They Say About the Man of the Shroud?” and “Miraculous Fires: The Shroud Survives 1532 and 1997.” With this podcast, the two plan to share their knowledge and prepare both parishioners of the Cathedral and members of the community for a very special event.

On Saturday, March 17, Barrie Schwortz, the Official Documenting Photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project and now Shroud expert, will be at the Cathedral to give a presentation on his story and experience with the Shroud of Turin.

In 1978, a team of American scientists was granted five days with the Shroud of Turin to photograph it, analyze it and make an attempt to prove or disprove its authenticity. Their work and findings captured the attention of the world. One of the members of that team was Barrie Schwortz, a Jewish photographer from California. Schwortz, though very skeptical and hesitant to be part of the project, did eventually sign on as its documenting photographer.

Don Devan, who had previously worked with Schwortz on another project, was his link in to the Shroud of Turin project. During one of their phone conversations, Devan offered some advice to the skeptical Schwortz.

Schwortz relayed, “I told him, I’m a Jewish guy. Don said to me, ‘Well apparently you’ve forgotten that the man in question was a Jew.’ I said, ‘I don’t know a lot about Jesus, but I certainly knew he was a Jew. He said to me, ‘So you don’t think God would want one of His chosen people on our team?’”

“He then gave me some advice which, now I understand, was probably the best advice I’ve ever been given,” said Schwortz. “He said, ‘Stop complaining. Go to Turin. Do the very best work you can do. God doesn’t tell us in advance what the plan is, but one day you‘ll know.’ And on those words I stayed on the team and – that was 42 years ago. In retrospect looking back at that, I now know that was God speaking to me through his voice, Don’s voice, because I was destined to be on that team.”

But in 1978, Schwortz remained a skeptic. After 17 months of preparations, the team had five days to collect as much information on the Shroud of Turin as they could. When Schwortz at last stood before the Shroud, with nothing between him and the cloth, he pulled out his photographer’s 10x loop and immediately began to examine it.

“I started looking for paint pigment binders, any indication of any artwork,” said Schwortz. “Now I’m not an authority on that subject, but I have good eyes and I had total access to the Shroud, no glass or anything in between. My nose was an inch from that cloth and I was looking at it and looking down in between the fibers because paint pigment binders are going to be visible. They’re not going to disappear and just leave an image.”

He continued, “And so I knew probably within 10 or 15 minutes of the Shroud being unveiled that whatever it was, wasn’t a painting.”

Schwortz photographed the Shroud of Turin over those five days, and his now famous photographs have been published in national publications across the globe.

But even that experience didn’t convince Schwortz of the Shroud’s authenticity. Indeed it was wasn’t until he had a phone conversation with Alan Adler 17 years later, that Schwortz was finally, unflinchingly convinced. Adler was the world-renowned blood chemist on the team in 1978, and like Schwortz, he is also Jewish.

“Al said he had pretty much come to believe this had to be the real thing,” said Schwortz. “And remember, he’s like me. He had no horse in the race, no emotional attachment to it. And I said, ‘Well, I’m still not convinced. He asked what was keeping me from being convinced and it happened to be right up his alley. The blood is still red on the cloth… I know that old blood turns black or brown sometimes in less than an hour. He got made at me and said, ‘Didn’t you read my paper 17 years ago?”

Schwortz continued, “Al said when he did the chemical analysis on the blood samples from the Shroud, he consistently found a very high content of bilirubin…. It’s a compound made in the liver and when somebody is beaten, scourged, tortured and not given any water, they go into hypovolemic shock, the liver starts pumping extra bilirubin into the bloodstream… and he said it turns out that bilirubin is a hemolytic agent and breaks down the red blood cells’ cell walls, releasing hemoglobin that will remain red forever.

“Well when he told me that, coming from a man, who like me had no reason to do anything but be honest, that pretty much gave me the final piece of the puzzle,” said Schwortz.

It was also in 1995 that Schwortz realized the true purpose of his involvement with photographing the Shroud of Turin.

“It began to come clear to me that of all the men on that team, I was the only one with the skill set that could build a website and collect this information without putting any personal spin on it.”

And today Shroud.com remains a go to point for enthusiasts and the curious alike, boasting more than a million visitors a year.

Schwortz relays all of this and much more during his presentations, including the science behind why he believes the Shroud of Turin is authentic.

In addition to Schwortz’s presentation, the Cathedral will have on display a series of of items associated with the crucifixion of Jesus.

“There are a number of replicas of what would have been used on Jesus, like the flagrum, the whip that would have had those little steel balls on the end. One that I find really interesting is a model of Jesus as he would be laying there, and an actual piece of cloth, so right there you can see how the Shroud would have laid upon him,” said Fr. Mangum.

Additionally the Cathedral has a life-sized replica of the Shroud of Turin, printed on cloth and hanging on the wall of the parish hall.  “It’s a duplicate of the image taken by the photographer who will be here in March.”

Fr. Mangum says that there are a few churches who have an exhibit on the Shroud. “They really want to do their best to use the Shroud as an evangelization tool,” said Fr. Mangum. “So we’re not just teaching people about the Shroud – we’re going to have all these different items present. I want to teach people ahead of time about it so that when people arrive they’re not being reminded of what the Shroud is.”

Fr. Mangum continued, “We’re foreseeing that the Shroud replica is going to stay up there after Barrie’s visit.” This will allow people to visit the Cathedral, view the replica and learn more about it. To schedule a visit, call the church office at 318-221-5296.

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans invites the community to join them on March 17, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. to hear Barrie Schwortz’s story – one that took him on a road from disinterest, to disbelief and finally to being well convinced that the Shroud of Turin is indeed the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.  


Fr. David T. Richter’s Legacy to Continue Through Memorial Fund

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by Diane Libro

Fr. David T. Richter served the Diocese of Shreveport for 29 years with a quiet but fierce passion for God and the Church. Three years after his unexpected death at age 57, his three brothers are continuing his ministry by establishing the Fr. David T. Richter Memorial Fund. The foundation supports vocations and pro-life efforts.

“He could have done a lot more good through the years,” brother Randy Richter said. “I wanted to help him and support the work he had done.”

Fr. Richter was raised in a devoutly Catholic home, where his parents prayed one of their four sons would become a priest. The real push came from the Dallas Cowboys. In 1970 the team faced a tough game, so 13-year-old super-fan David made a deal with God. If they won, he would read the whole Bible. They did, and he did.

The call to the priesthood came shortly thereafter. After graduating Fair Park High School, he attended seminary. There he met Fr. Bede Lackner, a Cistercian who became his spiritual director throughout his life.

They met only a few times a year, but Lackner described Fr. Richter as a “true servant of God,” “humble,” “fervent,” “patient” and “inspiring.”

“He was a chosen one, had no religious conflicts and led a saintly life,” Lackner said.

Ordained in 1986, he served the Diocese of Shreveport as parish priest, Vicar General, Director of Vocations, chaplain of Catholic Scouting, canon lawyer and many other positions.

He taught people about the power of silence, thinking before speaking and the power of devotion to Mary and the Eucharist.

To his family, he was a voice of measured counsel and spiritual guidance as well as presider at baptisms, weddings, and their parents’ last rites.

“One of my strongest emotions following his passing is during the Consecration of the Mass,” younger brother Kevin Richter said. “I will tear up remembering how he loved the Mass, our Lord and being His priest.”

Fr. Richter’s quiet, thoughtful nature belied a passionate commitment to the gospel and the truth. Each month
Fr. Richter wrote checks totaling a few hundred dollars to various charities – gifts discovered after his death that surprised his brothers.

Other efforts were more public. He joined prayer and protest in support of the pro-life movement, and was once arrested outside of an abortion clinic.

“One of the cops said I can’t arrest a priest,” but another had no such qualms, brother Mark Richter said. “They detained him and let him go.”

His approach was simple: “Do the right thing,” said Teresa Brandle, who met with Fr. Richter once a month or so for spiritual direction for more than 20 years. While over the years they discussed deep theology and challenging issues, she said his direction always came back to the basic truth.

“Fr. Richter said to me that that if we both strived to be holy, followed the teachings of the Church and received the Sacraments often, we could be saints too,” she said. “I’m counting on the intercession of Fr. David Richter to help me get to the Eternal Kingdom.”

By all accounts, Fr. Richter would not want much fuss made about him after his death, but he was also the kind of priest who would not let his personal wishes interfere in the work of promoting the gospel.

Continuing his legacy will require a large investment, and Randy Richter hopes those who remember him fondly will make a gift to the foundation.

“He was my baby brother. I prayed for him. I want to continue this work.”  •

Pro-Life Reception for Mary’s House with Abby Johnson on March 20

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On Tuesday, March 20, at the Bossier Civic Center, Mary’s House will host the Shreveport/Bossier Pro-Life Reception featuring Abby Johnson, former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, now pro-life advocate, as keynote speaker.

Abby Johnson has always had a fierce determination to help women in need. It was this desire that both led Abby to a career with Planned Parenthood, our nation’s largest abortion provider, and caused her to flee the organization and become an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement. During her eight years with Planned Parenthood, Abby quickly rose in the organization’s ranks and became a clinic director.

She was increasingly disturbed by what she witnessed. Abortion was a product Planned Parenthood was selling, not an unfortunate necessity that they fought to decrease. Still, Abby loved the women that entered her clinic and her fellow workers. Despite a growing unrest within her, she stayed on and strove to serve women in crisis.

All of that changed on September 26, 2009 when Abby was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched in horror as a 13-week baby fought, and ultimately lost, its life at the hand of the abortionist. At that moment, the full realization of what abortion was and what she had dedicated her life to washed over Abby and a dramatic transformation took place. Desperate and confused, Abby sought help from a local pro-life group. She swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb and expose abortion for what it truly is.

Planned Parenthood did not take Abby’s exodus sitting down. They are fully aware that the workers who leave are their greatest threat. Instantly, they took action to silence Abby with a gag order and took her to court. The lawsuit was quickly seen as the sham it was and thrown out of court.

The media was, and continues to be, intensely interested in Abby’s story as well as her continued efforts to advocate for the unborn and help clinic workers escape the abortion industry. She is a frequently requested guest on Fox News and a variety of other shows and the author of the nationally best-selling book, Unplanned, which chronicles both her experiences within Planned Parenthood and her dramatic exit.

Today, Abby travels across the globe sharing her story, educating the public on pro-life issues, advocating for the unborn, and reaching out to abortion clinic staff who still work in the industry. She is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers out of the industry. To date, this ministry has helped over 419 workers leave the abortion industry. Abby lives in Texas with her husband and seven precious children. •

 

Event Information

Tickets

General Admission, $50 • VIP Sponsorships $500, $1000, $1500 and $2000. • For more information and Tickets/Sponsorships, visit www.MarysHouseofLAFoundation.org, or email Lanne@maryshouseofla.org

EVENT TIMELINE:

5:30 p.m.: Doors Open

5:45 – 6:45 p.m.:  Pre-Reception, hors d’oeuvres* in the Main Hall

5:45 – 6:45 p.m.:  VIP Pre-Reception* in the Bodcau Room for sponsors and their guests

6:45 p.m.: Reception seating in the Main Hall

7:00 p.m.: Reception begins

7:30 p.m.: Keynote address by Abby Johnson

*Hors d’oeuvres by Silver Star

All proceeds benefit Mary’s House.