Category Archives: Features

Historic Dig: Artifacts of St. John’s Church & College Unearthed in Shreveport

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans has garnered much attention in recent months for the archeological dig they are conducting on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. There the dig team has unearthed, among other things, the old foundation of the original St. John’s Church and College, built in 1902.

Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral, has posted videos from their digs to the parish’s Facebook page, drawing tens of thousands of views and lots of local media attention. People, it seems, are fascinated by this delve into Shreveport and Catholic history.

The project began when Cathedral staff and parishioners were working on a book about the church’s history. Naturally, the old church and school were discussed when compiling this information. During their conversation, they had the idea to apply to have a state historical marker placed at the old church and school site.

Dr. Cheryl White, history professor at LSU-S and parishioner at the Cathedral, has been instrumental in getting historical markers for sites in the Shreveport area, so she was the natural choice to help lead this project.  To get started, she wanted to visit the site of the old church and college.

“When I got out there, I wasn’t quite sure of the location,” said Dr. White. “I went back to the university and took an old 1908 city map, and using software we infused it with a current city map so I could get the exact location of the church and college.”

She added, “We went from having a conversation about a marker to finding the site to the next thing asking, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to see if we could find the foundation of the church?’ And that’s really all I thought we were going to do; we were going to go out there, dig a little bit of the foundation and we’d be done.”

Fr. Mangum added, “Within a few times of going there, we knew we had the site. .. We weren’t anticipating finding anything!”

But they didn’t just find the church foundation. As the team, composed of Fr. Mangum, Dr. White, excavationer John Michael Giglio, and two trained archeologists – Jason Brown and Marty Loschen, continued to dig, they also unearthed pillars, foundational walls that supported the church steps, a 6-foot long piece of limestone that they believe was the threshold to the front door, and the church’s original corner supports.Additionally, smaller artifacts have been found in the surrounding dirt, such as ink bottles, quills and a flask.

Ink bottle unearted at the dig site

The dig site is a treasure for archeologists because it was uniquely and unconventionally preserved.

St. John’s Church and College were originally built in 1902 with the intention of being temporary structures. Eventually both were moved to the property on Jordan Street in 1929 – where they reside now as the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and the renamed Loyola College Prep. The St. John Berchmans elementary and middle school also resides there, honoring the name of the original college. After the church and college were relocated, the buildings at the original site were raised in the late 1930’s. Shortly thereafter, a parking lot was built over the site.

“That’s really great,” said Dr. White, “because once you peel back that layer of asphalt – what it did was encapsulate everything, and we know everything below the asphalt belongs to our church.”
“The most exciting thing to me has been finding the actual foundational walls and the clear evidence of where people would have entered the church,” said Fr. Mangum. “And we have absolute certitude of where the front doors would have been. For me, that’s been exciting to know… and now we can use the pictures of the old church and college to help our imagination.”

The original St. John's Church

The property that once housed St. John’s Church and College is divided over private property and state-owned property. The Cathedral team has been granted permission to dig on the private property, but part of where the church and high altar would have resided fall on the state side. And while the team could seek dig permissions to continue, they had a conversation about how far they would go.  Dr. White said, “We wanted to be able to say that we did what we set out to do, and I think we’ve done that.”

The team has completed Phase 1, which was exposing the old church’s foundation. Now they are preparing to move to Phase 2 – where they will move much of the dirt off the foundational site and get volunteer crews to begin sifting through it for artifacts.

As part of Phase 2, St. John Berchmans middle school students have the opportunity to visit the site, sift through the dirt and learn how an archeological site works, including grids, caring for found artifacts and labeling their location. “This springboards easily to real archeological sites like Rome and Greece. Hopefully they’ll find something,” said Fr. Mangum.

The final phases will be lifting the foundational supports out of the ground, covering the dig site, laying fresh sod and grass, and having the historical marker installed. In regards to the historical marker, Dr. White said, “We’re hoping maybe we can get it sometime around the feast of St. John Berchmans [on the new calendar] in November and do some sort of blessing.”

First page of Fr. John O'Connor's diary

As part of their research into the site and history of the church, Dr. White and Cathedral staff member, Carol Gates, traveled to Loyola University in New Orleans to visit the Jesuit archives. There they viewed the diary of founding pastor, Fr. John F. O’Connor, CSJ. On its first page, the opening line reads, “Today, by God’s grace, we begin the work with the Jesuits in Shreveport.” In the journal, he talks about the challenges of building the church and its location.

Reflecting, Fr. Mangum said, “Maybe the ink that we’ve read in Fr. O’Connor’s journal is from the ink bottle and quill we’ve found. It’s neat to think back – and of course we can’t help but think about the future and how it’s our responsibility to pass things down to the next generation.”

Dr. White lights up when she talks about the amazing experiences the Cathedral has had in the past year.  “Looking at the supernatural aspect of this, I believe it’s all because the heart of St. John Berchmans was here for eight days in December. I don’t think it’s an accident that we were led to do this and then to find everything so easily.”

And indeed, St. John’s Church was one of the first, if not THE first church named in St. John Berchmans honor.

“St. John Berchmans’ miracle for his canonization took place in our state,” said Fr. Mangum. “They needed a new church in the Shreveport area because Holy Trinity, the first church, was getting too small … the Jesuit community from South Louisiana came up to help. They had a connection to their most recently canonized saint, and so they named the church after him.”

As the dig continues into its next phases, recovered artifacts are being stored and cared for in the Spring Street Museum. Fr. Mangum will continue to post updates on the dig’s progress and their finds on the Cathedral’s Facebook page. Follow along to keep track of their historical findings.

Bishop’s September Reflection: The Resurrection of the Body

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by Bishop Michael Duca

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.

Most of us will recognize these opening words as the last line of the Apostles Creed. I remember from my youth that it was one of the longest prayers I had to memorize, but remembering it became easy as we prayed it when we prayed the rosary.

The Creeds of our Church – the Nicene Creed that we say together at Mass and the Apostles Creed – are proclamations of our most basic and important beliefs as Catholics. They hold us true to the original revelation of Jesus Christ as it has been handed down to us from Christ to the apostles, continuing on to us today.  Unfortunately we often rattle these creeds off at Mass with little thought, but they are a rich source of grace and meaning if we give some time to learn the full importance of each phrase.

Last month we celebrated the Assumption of Mary, the feast commemorating our belief that Mary at the moment of her death was immediately assumed into heaven, body and soul.  While we can understand why this honor was given to her as the Mother of God and the portal of our salvation at the moment of her death, we can draw hope from Mary as we are all promised, if we are faithful, the hope of resurrection and eternal life with God.

Reflecting on this brought me to one of the phrases of the Apostles Creed, “I believe in … the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” and why understanding this simple tenet of our faith is so important, especially in the world today.

As human beings we are body and soul, and the two together are important.  Our bodies are not just a burden to our spirit, they are an essential part of who we are as human beings.   To say we believe in the resurrection of the body is to directly reject the idea that when we die, we somehow become a spirit that is absorbed into God as a drop of water is absorbed into the ocean. This idea is what often leads people to scatter the remains of the deceased, but the Church teaches that if our bodies are to be cremated or not, we should be buried in one place to mark, “Here I lie waiting the unique resurrection of my body.”  I find this a wonder-filled and exciting belief because it means that in some way the totality of who I am, body and soul, will live forever with God.  Since it has been revealed by Jesus that we will be raised body and soul then I, Michael Duca, now Bishop of Shreveport (not sure there are miters in heaven, but probably not) will stand hopefully before God who will call my name for all eternity in love.

It also assumes that “all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel in death.” (Vigil Service for the Deceased)  We will be with the ones we love and it will be revealed how God is both a part of the love we share here on earth and the one Love we have always sought. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”  (St. Augustine)

I know there is always the question of our body’s corruption in the earth and how it can be resurrected, which of course is still a mystery to us. We do know that the body of Jesus when resurrected was a glorified body that allowed his disciples to recognize him, to eat with Jesus and to see the nail prints in his hands, while Jesus was also able to pass through locked doors. This in some ways prefigures what we can expect at our resurrection.

This teaching also leads us as Catholics to take our bodies seriously. Catholics, and other Christians at times, are accused of being suspicious of the body, seeing the body as not holy and at times even sinful in itself.  In fact the Church teaches that the body is good, it reveals who we are in relation to others and in relation to God who fashioned us.  When we respect our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit and as reflections of the Body of Christ on earth, then we find joy and peace in our whole selves, body and soul.

This short tenet of our faith that we believe in the resurrection of the body is filled with meaning and a powerful statement of faith on how we are to live in the world awaiting our resurrection.  •

Classes and Podcast on Catholic Retrospective on the Anniversary of Protestant Reformation

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by Dr. Cheryl White

As the world prepares to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on October 31, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is using this historic opportunity to focus a variety of educational offerings on the rich history of the Church, which will examine both the Protestant movement and the resulting Catholic Reformation. The time will also serve as an opportunity to pray for the restoration of unity among all Christians.

Keeping with the theme of “A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History through the Eyes of Faith,” the Cathedral will have a series of adult faith formation classes in conjunction with the historic anniversary, as well as the launch of a series of educational podcasts by Fr. Peter Mangum on related topics.

Transcending history through the eyes of faith is a concept drawn directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains the Church as visible in history, yet also eternally existing outside of it. Given the nature of the topics to be explored, this seems an especially appropriate way to frame the Cathedral’s programming.

Historians generally note the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to have occurred with the publication of the 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences by Martin Luther, who nailed his “protest” to the door of his church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Luther’s act of protest against abuses of practice within the Church had historic consequences that resulted in an eventual splintering of Christianity into many different groups and sects. Since the historic anniversary of this protest naturally invites a focus on the Catholic Church, it provides us with a unique educational opportunity as we remind ourselves of the fullness of our faith.

In addition to the adult education offerings, a 10-part weekly audio podcast series hosted by Fr. Peter Mangum will launch on September 1, with each installment focusing on a different aspect of the Church’s response to the Protestant movement as well as an emphasis on prayers for the restoration of unity. In these brief talks, Fr. Mangum uses both a theological and historical approach to the common themes evoked by the Protestant Reformation, resulting in an eloquent defense of our Catholic faith.

Among some of the podcast titles are: “Did Martin Luther Intend to Start a New Church?” and “Can the Church Be in Error?” as well as “Highlights of the Council of Trent,” and “Saints of the Catholic Reformation.” The podcasts will be available on the new Cathedral blog, https://catholicretrospective.wordpress.com, the Cathedral website and the Cathedral YouTube channel.

The following is a schedule of related classes and events to be held at the Cathedral. Sunday classes all begin at 9:15 a.m. and all are welcome to attend.

•  September 17 – Welcome and Overview for Fall Adult Faith Formation

September 24 – The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith, Dr. Cheryl White

October 1 – The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith, Dr. Cheryl White

Wed., October 11 –  6:00 p.m. Re-cap of The Church Catholic and Apostolic: The First 1500 Years of the Faith

October 15 –  A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith Seeking Christian Unity

October 22 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith,  Dr. Cheryl White: The Late Medieval Church, the Bad Popes, and Catholic Cry for Reform

October 29 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith, Fr. Peter Mangum, Dr. Cheryl White, Robert Cruz Martin Luther’s Protest & The 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences

November 5 – A Catholic Retrospective: Transcending History Through the Eyes of Faith,  Fr. Peter Mangum: The Council of Trent & the Tridentine Mass

New Christian Service Facility to Have September Grand Opening

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by Jane Snyder

The new Christian Service facility on Levy Street will have its grand opening on Wednesday, September 27, at 1:00 p.m. Please join Bishop Michael Duca and Mayor Ollie Tyler for this long awaited event.

In 1970, Fr. Murray Clayton brought Sr. Margaret McCaffrey to Shreveport. She rented an apartment in “The Bottoms” behind First United Methodist Church and realized that children were going to school hungry. Her mission to feed these children was the beginning of Christian Service.

Sr. Margaret grew the ministry through the 70s, 80s and 90s to serve those in our community who were living on the margins of our society, needing many different services. She fed thousands at the Hospitality House, provided clothing and emergency assistance, housed people recently released from prison, and housed women with children, repaired toys to give to children at Christmas, served volunteers at the Poor Man’s Supper and initiated the Christian Service Telethon.

Many think that Christian Service died when Sr. Margaret died in 1998, but that is not true. Fr. Andre McGrath, OFM, with the help of the Friars of St. John the Baptist, brought Brother Giovanni Reid to Shreveport in 1999, and since then the ministry has continued to serve 200 meals a day and provide clothing to many each month.

In 2013, Hope Connections, a collaboration of non-profits on Levy Street, whose goal is to end homelessness, asked Christian Service to become the food and clothing part of this amazing partnership. They offered to give Christian Service a 10,000 square foot building on their campus.

The Christian Service Board spent a year evaluating their ministry and chose to move forward taking the food, clothing and emergency assistance services to the new location.

In May of 2013, Christian Service hired Al Moore to be the new executive director and to take them through the process of fundraising and building the new facility.

The core mission of feeding the hungry has not changed, but the location to carry out the mission is changing. There is a need to address greater and greater numbers of people who are not only hungry, but homeless or on the brink of being homeless. Christian Service is moving to meet those needs.

Following 18 months of fundraising to renovate the 10,000 square foot warehouse, through the generous donations of many foundations and individuals, the groundbreaking for the new facility was held in September 2016.

The board of Christian Service looks forward to serving more clients at their new location.

They also hope to provide opportunities for more volunteers to be a part of the food and clothing ministries.

The board hopes that you will join them on September 27 at the new home of Christian Service at 2350 Levy Street in Shreveport at 1:00 p.m. to introduce this exciting new facility to the community.

Christian Service aims to help fulfill the request in Matthew 25 35:40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Catholic Charities Presents: Same Kind of Different as Me

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by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana will be hosting private showings of the movie Same Kind of Different as Me in Shreveport and Monroe during the weekend of October 20-22.  This movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book, which tells the true story of Ron Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver Moore, a homeless drifter, and their life-changing relationship.

The movie features Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight, and it shows how serving others can change a heart, a marriage and a community.  The heartwarming story takes place in Fort Worth, with additional mentions of North Louisiana and East Texas.  Book clubs across the country have given the story a “thumbs up.”

The private showings are made possible by the generous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Meg Goorley, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana’s Executive Director, sees the private showings as opportunities to start a conversation for change in our community.

“Every day, Catholic Charities is helping people like Denver Moore,” says Goorley.  “We work together to give our clients education, assistance, and most of all, hope.  I feel that this movie will inspire people to ask, what more can they do to help?”

Please join Catholic Charities of North Louisiana in attending a showing in either Shreveport or Monroe.

In addition to the private showings, Catholic Charities is also providing information for book study groups who want to read the book prior to the movie release.  Details (date, time, location) for the showings can be found on the Catholic Charities’ website at www.ccnla.org.  Tickets are available on a limited basis.  For more information, contact the CCNLA office at (318) 865-0200 or email at info@ccnla.org.

St. John Berchmans Catholic School Welcomes Changes!

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by Kelly Phelan Powell

With the advent of a new school year, St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport is undergoing some exciting changes. Former principal Jo Cazes retired this year after more than four decades working in education, and assistant principal Jennifer Deason, who is in the dissertation phase of a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Louisiana Tech, has transitioned into the leadership position at SJB. Trey Woodham, athletic director and middle school PE teacher, has assumed the assistant principal role.

There have been many cosmetic touches as well, but one change has teachers, parents and even students excited: SJB will offer Latin as part of its foreign language program for the 2017-18 school year.

“My vision for SJB is to continue to raise the bar, never settling for what we expect of ourselves or our students,” said Deason. “We would like to see growth in all of our learners across the board,” added Woodham. The new Latin curriculum is a major step toward those goals. Whitney Snead, current Latin teacher at Loyola College Prep, will give Latin instruction to SJB middle schoolers three times per week. Grades 3 through 5 will receive Latin instruction from Amy Vitacca, who also teaches middle school social studies.

“Embracing Latin at SJB makes perfect sense for our identity as a Catholic school with a rich curriculum in STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math). As the official language of the Church, Latin enhances our Catholicity. Latin root words are the foundation in science and the language of law, government and theology. [It] supports learning grammar in the English language [and] prepares students to learn other foreign languages,” Deason explained.

As nine-time Science Olympiad State Champions, SJB takes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) very seriously. Although retired, Cazes will continue to work with the Science Olympiad team. “She and I are very close, and I have encouraged her to find a happy balance as she transitions into retirement,” said Deason. “When she is missing us, the school routine or the smiles from the kids, then I want her to come to school. She still has so much to share!”

SJB has undergone a number of other improvements and updates over the summer. Some of these include new landscaping around the campus, handrails, new upholstery for the kneelers in the Cathedral and new scoreboards for the gym. The downstairs hallway has also been painted, lightening the space. “The library and technology center look beautiful,” said Deason, describing the murals and other artistic touches added to the 4100 square foot space. SJB has also redesigned its spirit wear and will be offering students new options for outerwear.

Woodham, who recently completed a 10-month Catholic Education Leadership Program through Loyola Marymount University, is ready and eager for his new role at SJB. “My main goal of the year is to support Jennifer [Deason] in any way I can to make sure this transition into new leadership is as smooth as possible. A lot of times, change makes people uncomfortable… I want to remind our students and parents that everything we do has purpose, and every decision we make is made with the best interest of our students, faculty and staff in mind. Another main goal of ours will be to expose our community to what a great school SJB is so we can increase and maintain a level of enrollment that our school is set up to support,” he said.

To that end, Ashley Timmons, Counselor and Marketing Director, has been working with a dedicated group of experienced volunteers to get the word out that SJB is an amazing learning environment with a strong Catholic Christian culture.

“Too often, people tell us they didn’t know about us,” said Deason. “We are working on getting our name out there and all the wonderful things that our school has to offer, but it is partially our fault – I find our school and families tend to be humbler, not needing or wanting too much extra attention for their good deeds or accomplishments. Fr. Peter Mangum [pastor of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans] said we just need to tell the truth, so we are trying to do so more often… Our Catholic faith is rich and evident in all that we do, our STREAM curriculum is strong and only getting better with the recent addition of Latin. Our school truly feels like a family.”

Vocations View: God is Persistent: Being Accepted to the Permanent Diaconate Program

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by Mike Van Vranken

I had just turned 28 years old and was standing in the vestibule of St. Michael Church in West Memphis, Arkansas with my pastor.  Thumbing through a pamphlet explaining why the diocese was searching for men to be ordained as Permanent Deacons, I exclaimed to Fr. Barnes: “I want to do this!”  He smiled and prophesied that as I got older, I should remember this moment because God had just planted a seed.  Now, as an accepted candidate to the Diocese of Shreveport’s upcoming formation of a new class of ordained Permanent Deacons, I am both excited and humbled to finally answer God’s call.

Deacon candidate Mike Van Vranken

I’ve learned when God chooses us to do something (John 15:16), we can run, hide, and find ten thousand excuses why we are not ready. But He waits patiently until we totally surrender to His will so He can place us exactly where He wants us. And for me, I’m convinced his desire, and mine too, is to be ordained and serve as a permanent deacon.  To be in this place of surrender, to know that I have made this decision in complete spiritual freedom and to anticipate the myriad of ways I will be able to minister to the people of God ignites a sensation in my entire being that fills me with joy, peace, excitement, awe, trepidation, delight and numerous feelings that I have no words to describe.

I catch myself daydreaming (“praydreaming” as one priest puts it) about many of these opportunities as a deacon: meeting with new parents about baptizing their infant into the body of Christ; proclaiming the “gospel of the Lord” to the assembly at Mass; teaching adults, children, youth – both Catholic and those becoming Catholic; witnessing and blessing marriages, officiating at funerals, wakes and burial services; helping those in need, including the hungry, homeless, sick, lonely, divorced, lost – those who Pope Francis reminds us are on the peripheries; offering words of encouragement, inspiration, hope and love to all people in our diocese.  In every one of these “praydreams,” I fall in love with the reality that I will be accompanying Jesus in the lives of each person I encounter in so many special and holy ways. Or, to say it differently, I will have more and richer opportunities to experience the Holy Trinity in every person I meet.

In my current role as a spiritual director, I constantly encourage people to take whatever issue is on their mind and share it in a heartfelt conversation with God. They should tell Him their feelings and thoughts, asking for His input and His desires. If you have any indication that God is choosing you to be one of his ordained Permanent Deacons, I offer you the same advice:  Get alone with God in a quiet place, slowly read John 15:1-17, or maybe another scripture where Jesus calls us, and have an honest and frank conversation with Him about how this scripture touches you. Finally, let Him take it from there.

It is good to remember that God is calling each of us – male and female, young and old to be missionary disciples.  At the same time, He is choosing some for the religious life, for the priesthood or to the permanent diaconate. It is good for all of us to ask His help in showing us exactly what he wants from us. And don’t worry that you might miss what His desire is for you. He’s very persistent.

If you would like more information about the Permanent Diaconate, contact Deacon Clary Nash, cnash@dioshpt.org or call 318.868.4441.

Navigating the Faith: Spiritual Direction

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by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

While our diocese does not have an abundance of lay spiritual directors, the number more than doubled in August as four more people completed two years of formation. Brenda Lites and Susan Tousignant, St. Jude in Benton;, Marie Rinaudo, Cathedral of St. John Berchmans; and Mike Van Vranken, St. Joseph in Shreveport, graduated from the Archdiocese of New Orleans Spirituality Center Formation Program on August 9, and are now certified spiritual directors. They join Joe and Katherine Bernal of St. Paschal in Monroe and Dianne Rachal of the Catholic Center.  These spiritual directors are trained in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, as retreat leaders, and in one-on-one spiritual direction.

What is Spiritual Direction?
Throughout the history of the Church there have always been men and women who listened to those wanting assistance with their prayer.  From the desert fathers and mothers of the 4th century, through numerous saints and founders of religious orders, mystics and confessors, the Church’s sacred tradition of spiritual direction has been nurtured and safeguarded, remaining a venerable and vital spiritual practice for many today.  Spiritual direction is concerned with helping a person directly with their relationship with God. Spiritual directors help people grow in their prayer life, nurture their relationship with God and enable one to become more attentive to God in daily life.  In nurturing one’s relationship with God, the most fundamental issue in that relationship is: “Who is God for me, and who am I for God?”

Spiritual direction is help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication, to respond to this communication, to grow in intimacy with God, and to live out the results of one’s relationship with God.  Spiritual direction has always aimed at fostering union with God.

What is Spiritual Direction Not?
Spiritual direction is not counseling – spiritual directors are not trained therapists, counselors or psychiatrists.  While spiritual direction can be a helpful adjunct if one is in therapy, it can never take the place of counseling or professional therapy.

Spiritual direction is not pastoral counseling provided by ordained priests and deacons, nor is it spiritual companioning where two people agree to meet and mutually support one another in their spiritual lives.

Who is Spiritual Direction For?
Everyone who is in a relationship with God would benefit from spiritual direction. Are you considering a major life change:  Vocation?  Marriage?  Career move?  Does God feel far way, even though you pray daily?  Do you feel that everyone else has a fulfilling prayer life, and that somehow you are missing out on something?  Are you troubled about the “worldliness” of your life, and concerned about the will of God for you?  Are you angry with God?  If any of these questions resonate with you, spiritual direction can help you draw closer to God and discern His will for you. A trained spiritual director helps one address God directly and listen to His response. Spiritual direction focuses on what happens when a person listens to and responds to a self-communicating God.

What is Spiritual Direction Like?
The spiritual director and the person agree to meet for a specified length of time, usually an hour, and  decide the frequency of meetings.  A spiritual director maintains complete confidentiality with respect to everything that transpires during the meeting. The person coming for spiritual direction communicates what is happening in their prayer life. Sometimes a spiritual director will give the person a scripture or spiritual writing to pray with and reflect on, and the person shares what surfaced during reflection. The spiritual director may suggest spiritual practices such as journaling, contemplation or lectio divina.

The spiritual director always listens intently, helping the person notice God’s presence, God’s movements, God’s will in the life of the person. The person coming for spiritual direction is open in sharing their prayer experiences with the spiritual director, and more importantly, open to receiving God’s communication. In spiritual direction, God is the director.

As Christians, we are a pilgrim people on a journey moving ever closer to eternal life, accompanied by Jesus Christ who shows us the way, and growing in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit who is the love of God the Father.  Spiritual direction helps us develop and deepen our relationship with the Triune God.

For more on information contacting a spiritual director, attending an informational meeting about becoming a spiritual director or taking spiritual direction classes, see the sidebar.

Catholic Connection Wins Awards!

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The Catholic Press Awards were held in Quebec on Friday, June 23, 2017, with Catholic publications from across North America competing in hundreds of categories. The Diocese of Shreveport’s Catholic Connection took home three awards this year!

Click the links to read the winning entries.

1. Best Coverage of Pro-Life Issues – 3rd Place (Writers – Bishop Michael Duca, Kim Long and Jessica Rinaudo)

2. Best Diocesan Bishop’s Column – 3rd Place (Writer – Bishop Duca)

3. Best Book Review Column – Honorable Mention (Writers – Kim Long,  Katie Sciba and Mike Van Vranken).

Congratulations to the Diocese of Shreveport and the Catholic Connection for a great showing on an international stage!

Catholic Schools Annual Report

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Click to download the Catholic Schools 2016-17 Annual Report

August, 2017

Dear Friends of Catholic Schools:

The information presented in this report indicates that our schools completed another successful year in providing quality Catholic education throughout our diocese.

As we continue to focus on our core values of Catholic identity, effective leadership, academic quality and sustainable financial viability, we must always give thanks to God for the opportunities He provides us and the blessings we experience every day.

The statistics and data provided in this report clearly indicate that we are a system of schools that, through God’s grace, is moving in the right direction.

I am most grateful to Bishop Michael Duca for his ongoing support and commitment to Catholic education. We are fortunate to have a leader who cares so deeply about young people. I join him in thanking our pastors and the dedicated professionals who work so tirelessly in our schools to make them the quality learning centers that they are.

As this report provides us an opportunity to review and reflect on the previous academic year, it also gives us valuable information to focus on in 2017-2018. I am confident that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will build on the success of the past and face our challenges with great energy and enthusiasm.

“Always find your refuge in Jesus,” St. Angela Merici.

Sincerely,
Sr. Carol Shively,  OSU
Superintendent of Catholic Schools