Category Archives: Features

Preparing for June Ordinations: Q&A with the Candidates

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KEVIN MUES

What are you most looking forward to about being ordained to the Transitional Diaconate?
The transitional diaconate is a period of about a year. A man is ordained to the diaconate before priesthood. Every priest still retains his diaconal ministry once he’s ordained, but the diaconal ministry is really a call to service. It’s a call to serve at the altar and assist. As deacon you’re supposed to serve. It’s a beautiful ministry. I’m really excited. To me the image of the servant is the most important image, at least in my experienced reality, for the priests. So the role of the deacon, stepping into that role of service at the altar, is going to be the first step.

What moments in seminary or summer assignments have helped prepare you to be a deacon and a priest?
For the last two years I’ve had an assignment outside of school here in New Orleans where I taught CCD. Being a part of that classroom setting, helping the ninth graders have that first encounter with Christ, being able to teach the faith to kids who may or may not want to learn, but being able to teach them the faith, has been really beautiful. It’s really put me in that mind set of someone who will one day teach and preach from the ambo, from the pulpit.

When I was at St. Ben’s [St. Joseph Seminary College], we went on a mission trip to Guatemala and then in our first year here at seminary we went to Nicaragua. I got to see both of those countries and the people there that had encountered the faith. It impressed on me more of the need to learn Spanish. So I’ve been working on that, too.

This past semester I did volunteer hours at the nursing home that’s connected to our campus. I visited the people. It was my first encounter with knocking on the door of a stranger and going in there and seeing where they’re at spiritually. It better prepared me for the summer when I worked in a hospital for two months and I got to be with families in very dire situations – be with them in times of death, in times of mourning and loss. To some extent, it was a beautiful thing to learn because I’d encountered death before, but I hadn’t walked with a family through that process and it was a real eye-opening experience of how God works even in tragedy.

Has there been a moment that has helped you discern that becoming a priest is God’s plan for you?
During Holy Week this year, when I served at Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish (Monroe), I got to be around the families. The altar society was helping get the altar ready and the other groups were the active side of ministry, preparing for the liturgy, and participating in the liturgy with the altar servers. The choir was singing, and I was amazed by the whole action of the Church during the Triduum. It really made me realize that there’s nothing else I feel like I’m called to do and that I feel like I’d be happy doing, other than serving at the altar of God as a priest one day.

DEACON DUANE TROMBETTA

Are there any particular moments of seminary that have helped you discern that priesthood was the right path for you?
The process of developing a healthy life of prayer and spirituality has been the primary factor in my priestly discernment. However, I call to mind one distinctly academic factor that played a part as well. During my first year of theology studies at Notre Dame Seminary, I received an assignment to draft a model letter to an incoming seminarian, giving an introduction to seminary life, and offering guidance on how to rightly align academic studies toward effective pastoral leadership. That assignment was challenging, but rewarding. It compelled me to consider those principles in my own seminary studies and priestly discernment. Since then, I have occasionally referred back to that assignment, and found myself reassured that my early advice was well worth following. That memorable assignment played a small but influential role in my discernment that priesthood was the right path for me.

What moments in your ministry or missionary work have stood out for you?
Of all the works of ministry I have experienced, some of my most memorable have occurred during my summer assignments. For example, during my 2013 summer at Holy Trinity Parish in Shreveport, I learned the diversity of works of parish priests, including sacramental ministry, hospital visits, home visits and prison ministry. During my 2014 summer at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, I learned the unique spirituality of diocesan priesthood. During my 2015 summer at Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe, I experienced the dynamic workings of Christ in the young and old. During my 2016 chaplain internship at Florida Hospital in Orlando, I experienced the grace of God from the moment of birth to the moment of death. And during my 2017 diaconate internship at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, I experienced the dynamics of a lively parish that features a grade school, a college prep next door, and a diverse array of ministries.

What does being ordained to the priesthood mean to you?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that through the Sacrament of Holy Orders and by the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, priests are signed with a special character and are configured to Christ in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ, the head. What an awesome responsibility! To me the priesthood is a gift, an opportunity and truly a vocation.

In what ways has your time as a transitional deacon prepared you for priesthood?
During my year as a transitional deacon, I experienced such a wide array of spiritual, pastoral and sacramental ministries. I believe the Sacrament of Holy Orders truly imparts the graces necessary to reach and help Christ’s faithful. Last summer, I particularly enjoyed serving as an ordained deacon for the Diocese of Shreveport’s “Mission Possible” outdoor adventure retreat at King’s Camp in Mer Rouge, Louisiana. Throughout the school year, I was honored to minister at many churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, including St. Rita Parish, Mater Dolorosa Parish, and the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France. Most recently, I enjoyed serving during the Masses and special services of Holy Week 2018 “back home” in the Diocese of Shreveport. I believe that each of these uniquely contributed to my preparation for receipt of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and ordination to the priesthood.

Grant Brings Money School to Rural Community

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by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) recently took its financial education class, The Money School, on the road to Ringgold and it was all made possible by a grant from Jonesboro State Bank. The Pledge 10 Grant Program is Jonesboro State Bank’s pledge to invest 10% of their profits in Jackson Parish and the surrounding areas (Bienville, Winn and southern Lincoln parishes) in order to create a better community.

Through the Pledge 10 Grant, CCNLA employees Joe Bulger and Carl Piehl recently held The Money School for citizens in Ringgold (Bienville Parish) in order to teach them financial literacy and provide assistance with their rent and utility bills. CCNLA was first approached by David Saucier, retired educator and a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Ringgold. After observing a Money School class in Shreveport, Saucier wanted to bring its message to the people of Ringgold because he felt that it could improve their lives. CCNLA worked with Saucier and a dedicated group of volunteers to present two weeks of Money School classes and then meet with clients to assess their financial situations. Volunteers worked alongside CCNLA case managers to interview clients, provide financial coaching and then help determine which clients would receive financial assistance.

Pledge 10 Director Christie Weeks was able to observe one of The Money School sessions in Ringgold and was extremely pleased with the results.

“Bringing The Money School to a rural community like Ringgold is important because many people have limited access to transportation and cannot travel to one of the Catholic Charities offices,” said Weeks. “The clients seemed to really enjoy the class and it was a great atmosphere.” Weeks was also pleased to see local students who were studying for their General Educational Development (GED) sit in on The Money School. “We can all learn something from The Money School and it is never too early to start.”

Volunteers David Feming, Martha Grigg, Steve Young and Alonzo Alford.

Funds from Catholic Charities’ Pledge 10 Grant were used to provide emergency financial assistance towards the clients’ rent and utility bills, with a small percentage used for travel expenses and outreach supplies. With the success of the Ringgold Money School, Catholic Charities will continue to reach out to other rural communities throughout the diocese to bring The Money School to their residents. As long as there are people in need, CCNLA’s Director of Financial Stability, Carl Piehl, is up for the trip.

“There are many people in our area who need help and need someone to listen,” said Piehl. “Through the lessons we provide through The Money School, we can continue to reach those who are willing to change their financial situations and improve their lives.”

To attend a Money School class (as a participant or observer), please visit www.ccnla.org/money-school for days and times. For more information about Jonesboro State Bank’s pledge to the community, visit www.jonesborostatebank.com/pledge10

St. John Berchmans School Reigns as 10 Time Science Olympiad State Champions!

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by Mary Simpson

The St. John Berchmans Science Olympiad team won the State Science Olympiad competition held in Hammond, LA in March of this year – in fact, they have won it 10 times in a row! The team will represent the state of Louisiana when they head to Ft. Collins, CO, to compete in the National Science Olympiad Competition in May.

The National Science Olympiad was started 30 years ago as a grassroots gathering of science teachers. The short version of their mission is “… Improve the quality of K-12 science education, increase interest in science, create a technologically literate workforce and provide recognition for outstanding achievement by both students and teachers.” The achievement of that mission is through the tournaments, incorporating Science Olympiad into classroom curriculum and attending professional development workshops. Over 7,800 teams from across the country compete in invitational, regional, state and national tournaments. Each team consists of 15 members. Teams compete in 23 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) events.

St. John Berchmans School (SJB) began Science Olympiad 12 years ago with Jo Cazes, principal at the time. Along with the late Norma Waters and Amy Knight, they coached and developed student skills to compete in Science Olympiad. This commitment to STEM was pervasive throughout the whole school. SJB not only became a STEM school, but it is now a STREAM school (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math).

When Cazes came to SJB, it was a time of transition. She brought the Science Olympiad program to give the students a “win.” That win began the second year they competed and has not stopped since.

Amy Knight is one of the coaches who started as a parent, and then not only became involved with Science Olympiad, she became the middle school science teacher at SJB. For her, the best thing about Science Olympiad is, “Being able to expose our students, from our small school to a nationally recognized program.” She went on to say, “the material they learn is at the high school level.” Many of the students take the knowledge and skills they learn and receive college scholarships. Knight added, “I am proud of how much effort our students put in to win medals and State Championship titles. They earn that trophy every year. It isn’t just given to us.”

Students have to try out for the Science Olympiad team. They join Science Olympiad for many reasons. Reese Mekelburg, a sixth grader, who is new to Science Olympiad, wanted to join the team as soon as he was old enough. He loves science. He loves to tinker and figure things out. His mother, Rene, loves the experience of the kids creating friendships through the different age groups.

“Seeing the mentors guide and help these kids is a wonderful experience. They give up so much of their time to help these kids. As a parent, this is a great benefit not only educationally, but socially as he learns to work with others.”

SJB reaps the benefits of Science Olympiad through the implementation of STEM curriculum. Students who participate have much to offer in the classroom. Since middle school science is collaborative, other students get to share in the knowledge and skills of the Olympians. While the competition outside of school is done by the middle schoolers, the elementary students participate in a mini Science Olympiad in the spring. Third, fourth and fifth grade students create projects in various STEM areas and compete in an afternoon full of science. Students learn how to collaborate and solve a multitude of scientific challenges.

SJB proudly displays 10 banners as state Science Olympiad state champions in the school’s multi-room. Students who have graduated from SJB have continued studying science in many areas, including graduating college with engineering degrees, attending medical school and conducting research in other scientific fields. Students are prepared academically to work hard and implement the Scientific Method.

The SJB Science Olympiad team will be traveling to the national tournament on May 17, 2018. Please keep this team in your prayers for a safe journey. There is a current fundraising drive as parents pay the cost of travel for their children. If you would like to contribute to this program, please send donations to the school office at St. John Berchmans School, 947 Jordan Street, Shreveport.

St. Joseph Seminary Youth Events

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by Kelby Tingle, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

Throughout the course of the academic year, there are many exciting events that take place within the seminary community at St. Joseph Seminary College. The spring semester, in particular, is extremely busy with many events that we joyfully look forward to. In March, the seminary hosted Abbey Youth Festival and the Come & See Retreat which has become very special to me throughout my time in formation.

Abbey Youth Festival is planned and organized by the seminarians. The festival is blessed to welcome approximately 3,000 youth and young adults to the seminary campus. During the festival, there are many well-known speakers who tell their personal stories as well as offer ways for those in attendance to deepen their faith. Throughout the festival, there are also bands and musicians who play. The climax of the event is the beautiful Vigil Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. A candle-lit adoration and benediction, which many participants often refer to as the most powerful spiritual moment of the day, is the conclusion of the event. Ultimately, this festival is a special day in which we all gather in Christian stewardship to express our love and longing to live lives dedicated to our Savior.

One week later, the seminary hosted the Come & See Retreat which is a discernment retreat. Over 150 young men from various dioceses of the south, including 13 men from our diocese, came to the seminary in order to see the life of the seminarians. This weekend offers the opportunity for young men to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, attend Mass, interact with the seminarians and priests, listen to mock philosophy lectures, and bond with other men who are also striving to listen to God’s voice in their lives. It is awe inspiring to see the bright future and dedication that these young men have for the Church.

Attendees at the annual Come & See discernment retreat at St. Joseph Seminary College.

One of the best parts of these events was having the opportunity to see many youth groups and parishioners from my home, the Diocese of Shreveport. I always enjoy the opportunity to welcome those from my home diocese to my place of formation. I was thankful to be able to talk with and get to know all of them during these events.

The Abbey Youth Festival and the Come & See events are important to the seminary community as they assist in forming us pastorally. These events generate a great amount of excitement at the seminary as we anticipate them. They revitalize and inspire the community in the months that follow. At the same time, it is our belief that these events assist the youth and young adults of the Church in deepening their authentic relationship with Christ. I thank all of those from the Diocese of Shreveport who supported the seminary by attending the Abbey Youth Festival and Come & See Retreat. In addition, I invite all of the youth from our diocese to consider coming to these events in the coming years. Please continue to pray for all of those discerning God’s call in their lives, especially the seminarians of our diocese and the seminarians at St. Joseph Seminary!

Navigating the Faith: Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church New Feast Day

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by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, on March 3, 2018, announcing that Pope Francis has added the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, to the universal calendar of the Church. The memorial will be celebrated on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday, which is May 21 this year.

The decree begins:

“The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.”

The decree goes on to reference St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great who taught that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. Mary stood at the foot of her Son’s cross as he founded the Church and entrusted its members to her tender care.

The Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII honor Mary with the title “Mother of the Church. At the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed Pope Paul VI declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church” on November 21, 1964. A votive Mass in honor of Beata Maria Ecclesiae Matre was added to the Roman Missal in 1975, the Holy Year of Reconciliation. Some countries, dioceses and religious orders already had a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church on their particular calendars.

In adding this memorial to the Roman calendar, Pope Francis hopes this celebration will promote a growth of genuine Marian piety:

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
“Decree on the Celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar”
2-11-2018

Domestic Church: Finding the Divine Plan in Grief

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by Katie Sciba

I lost my dad in the fall of 2013. After dodging more adventurous deaths in his youth, he met his match in cancer. He fought for two-and-a-half years before passing away the day our oldest started preschool. He was 60, much too young to die.

My dad’s illness, decline and passing of course took a toll on my mom. She wore herself to the bone wearing hats of caregiver, wife and mom to three adult children, not to mention her career in parish ministry. In the time after losing her husband, her voice seemed lifeless and her heart was heavy. My mom, who was typically quick-witted and up for anything, was bereaved and weary.

My world and faith came crashing down. I was furious with God for allowing my personal Superman to be defeated and for my mom to be left alone. I was 27 when my dad died, and I felt too young to lose a parent. I wanted him to be around to know my kids personally and be part of my adult life. I still ached for his approval and pride.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to me at least, and there was no sense to it that I could perceive. I couldn’t imagine how so much pain could be part of the divine plan, much less divine mercy.

Then my mom met someone – a good, true, holy man who in time vowed to love, honor and cherish her unto death. The spark returned to my mom’s voice; and, in the light of their new life together, any confusion that surrounded my dad’s death was lifted. I realized that just as it was the Lord’s will for my parents to marry, it was also His will for my step-dad’s life that he would marry my mom. It’s my step-dad who will be present in my adult life and who will be grandfather to my kids. The life my family gained through the addition of my dear stepfather brought meaning to the sorrow we experienced before; and not just that, but it opened my eyes to a much bigger picture.

In the middle of suffering any kind of loss, there’s little that makes sense. Grief brings on anger, confusion and sorrow strong enough to blind us to hope. It’s in new life, in change and in seeing a bigger plan, that our joy is made new.

Here we are, the beginning of May, and it is still the Easter season. Jesus’ intense suffering and crucifixion at the time seemed only unfair in the eyes of his followers, and rightly so. How could death be part of the divine plan? But it was from his death that Jesus rose, achieving a more glorious life for not only himself, but also making that same glory available to every soul.

Faithful Food: Summer Recipes for Life

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by Kim Long

Birthdays when I was a child were a Real. Big. Deal.

What exactly do I mean when I say that? My birthday, which falls in the later part of June is hot – no way around that meteorologic certainty. Sweat, mosquitoes, school break, and my birthday all shared a particular season.

On most all other days, life was pretty ordinary, but on our birthdays all bets were off.

Our backyard was green, cool and lush. The thick carpet of St. Augustine grass cushioned our bare feet. In the evening it became our outdoor living room as my birthday celebration drew nigh. The picnic table, longish with a “redwood” stain, was covered with a paper tablecloth which caught wind better than any ready sail, and a huge cake – truly a baker’s creation topped always with a ballerina, though dance lessons had long since ceased. All my closest school mates gathered with me as candles and barbecue pit were simultaneously ignited. Everyone was on their best behavior and it showed. I went to bed thinking how wonderful the day had been, reveling in my gifts and the joy this day always delivered. I was home. I was safe. I belonged. I felt cherished. These are things, in my opinion, we should all be able to feel at least once a year.

Pentecost approaches and we prepare for this celebration of God’s outpouring by wearing red, eating special foods and giving serious consideration to a different kind of birthday gift: those gifts of the Spirit, freely given with the desire that we make use of them as often as we are able. And while we may or may not eat cake to commemorate this day, which has become known as the birthday of the Church, we certainly acknowledge that we still long for a place to fit, a place to belong. In short, this birthday, like all those which have gone before it, can be seen as a type of homecoming, a return to what holds us together as a family, a community of faith and a time to celebrate and revel in the uniqueness within each of us.

However just as when I was a child and the birthday revelry came to a close, so it is with our celebratory “season” of Easter and it’s grand finale, Pentecost.

As we drift back into Ordinary Time and tasks, how do we maintain some of that joy when ordinary things bombard us? How do we recall and remember the love of God we saw so clearly in the empty tomb on any given Thursday when there just isn’t enough of anything to go around? Well, I have been giving that some thought and here is what I came up with – not a recipe exactly, but some food for thought.

If you want to feel you belong in a family, do family things! Go visit your relatives rather than just send an odd text. Be interested, genuinely interested, in what is happening with your own relatives: praying for them, communicating with them, being there for them. Bake a batch of cookies for a relative who isn’t expecting it; make a calendar with birthdays; keep stamps on hand and send a card. No matter how tech savvy we are, most people love mail in their box.

If you want to feel Catholic, do Catholic things! Many of my teacher friends look forward to attending daily Mass during the summer break. Follow their lead! Pray a rosary as you walk in the good weather summer brings. Help an elderly neighbor by purchasing a fan; better still do it quietly and offer prayers for them. Consider helping in an outreach group in your parish. Pray a novena. Start a study group to learn more about the faith.

And above all, know that there will be challenges and ask God to help you meet them with grace and peace.
There will be loss – know that up front. Know that in the ensuing sorrow there will be, as the Psalmist says, “Joy in the morning.” Laugh, pray, love and forgive one another in imitation of God’s example! It is in these moments that we feel that wonderful sense of belonging, purpose and oneness.

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.  •