Category Archives: Features

Be More: Northwest Louisiana Catholic Schools Unite

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The three Catholic schools in the Shreveport-Bossier area, Loyola College Prep, St. John Berchmans Catholic School and St. Joseph Catholic School, are joining forces. Together school principals, school council members, communications professionals, priests and superintendent Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, have begun meeting to discuss working together to share resources and create a unified Catholic school system in northwest Louisiana.

As part of this effort, several initiatives have launched. The first was to assemble committees, each with a different focus from finances to marketing. The marketing social media team has already begun their work by launching a Shreveport / Bossier Catholic Schools joint Facebook page, where news from all three schools, and in a particular way, news of the schools working together, can be shared with all of those who support Catholic education in the Shreveport / Bossier area.

The Facebook page launched officially in conjunction with Catholic Schools Week 2019, and each day of that week highlighted what the three schools do for their school families, the community and one another. Together the three schools are showing how their students can “Be More,” by attending Catholic schools.

Catholic Schools Week closed with an All Schools Mass at Loyola College Prep – the first to be held in many years – where the three schools celebrated Mass together.  The new Facebook page was used as a platform to live stream Father Matthew Long’s homily at the Mass, in which he fittingly spoke about how together, our schools build the future.

“We are the smallest school system in Northwest Louisiana… A lot of people would look at that and say that’s a bad thing…  But if we listen to the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we know that it’s a good thing, because we are blessed as administrators, as faculty members and as students that we have the ability to know… every one of our students, every one of our peers, every one of our faculty members. … This means we can be more like a family than an organization,” said Fr. Long.

He continued, “But you see, from that small seed of St. John’s and St. Joseph’s and Loyola is the future of northwest Louisiana. It’s the future of our community. It’s the future of our state. It’s the future of our nation. You are the ones who are being cultivated. You are the ones who are being taken care of. You are the ones who are being loved. You are the ones who are being given so much so that when you go forth, you will be able to be leaders. … Because you have received all the tools you need from these Catholic schools.”

“To all of you who are students, I think you should go home and tell your parents, ‘Thank you for making the sacrifice, thank you for loving me so much that you are willing to give me the best that you can.’”
Fr. Long also asked the Loyola students to stand up who attended St. John Berchmans School and St. Joseph School and pointed them out to all the elementary schools in attendance and encouraged them to “be one of the coolest kids in the City of Shreveport and to follow in their footsteps.”

Additionally, as part of this joint schools’ effort, Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, recently brought in a Catholic schools expert, Sr. Carol Cimino, SSJ, Ed.D, to speak to the collective group about different scenarios for both improving our Catholic schools and ways to help them create a bright future.

There are many exciting things happening for Catholic schools in the Shreveport / Bossier area. To follow along, visit and like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SBCatholicSchools.

Vocations View: World Youth Day

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by Raney Johnson, Seminarian

I had the opportunity to attend my second World Youth Day (WYD) this past January in Panama. During this trip, I was able to encounter fellow young Catholics from around the world. The theme of World Youth Day was: “He aquí la sierva del Señor, Hágase en mí según tu palabra.” These words translated into English mean: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.” The Blessed Virgin Mary says these words in St. Luke’s gospel. This passage of scripture was specifically chosen for the theme of WYD to emphasize the “Fiat” or “Yes” of Mary to God’s calling.  Throughout my time in Panama, the speakers continually emphasized Mary’s discernment in listening to God’s call and following that call.

One of my favorite parts of my second WYD was encountering the people in my group who were trying to listen to God’s voice in the same way as the Blessed Mother. The group I attended World Youth Day with was a sort of microcosm of the different vocations in the Church. There were religious sisters, a priest and two married men in my group. The group also contained young single Catholics discerning what God was asking them to do with their lives, as well as young men discerning vocations to the priesthood and a young woman discerning a vocation to the religious life. After talking with them about their different discernments, I began to reflect on my own discernment to the priesthood during my week in Panama.

I started to think about how three years earlier I had attended my first World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland after my first year of seminary. Then my mind went from the past into the future. I began to reflect on the next World Youth Day in 2022, and the fact that I might be a priest when it arrives. I began to reflect on my entire discernment of the diocesan priesthood, past, present and future, through the lens of World Youth Day. I imagined attending the next World Youth Day with a group of young Catholics discerning different vocations and celebrating the holy sacrifice of the Mass for them. This is an important part of WYD; it gives young Catholics from around the world the opportunity to reflect on what vocation God might be calling them to in the Church.

The Holy Father emphasized discernment by the youth in the Church when he celebrated Mass for us on the final day of our pilgrimage to Panama. Pope Francis encouraged us not to put off the discernment of our vocations, but to begin thinking about our vocations in the present.

If I could sum up my experience at World Youth Day, I would say that the Church is alive with young Catholics from around the world who seriously want to serve God and spread the Gospel message. So many young people are answering God’s call in the same way Mary did during the Annunciation. After attending World Youth Day twice, I hope that other young Catholics in the Diocese of Shreveport will have the same opportunity to experience this deeply spiritual event. The next World Youth Day will be in 2022 in Portugal, and I hope it will continue to help young Catholics discern their vocations.

Navigating the Faith: Ash Wednesday Quick Guide

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Ash Wednesday officially kicks off the Lenten season in the Church, a season dedicated to prayer, fasting and penance. It takes place 46 days before Easter. This year, that day is Wednesday, March 6th.


Click to download and print your “Quick Guide” to Ash Wednesday!

Domestic Church: How to Have a “Successful” Lent

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by Katie Sciba

The beginning of Lent feels like the New Year – it’s a clean slate paired with a handful of resolutions and a heart full of hope that this is THE year.  I’m going to stick with my Lenten sacrifices so when Easter shines in 40+ days, I’ll be beaming with Christian radiance and joy in the Resurrection. Every Lent, I start strong and convicted.

And, as with my New Year’s resolutions, in time I fall short of my personal goals for spiritual wellness, justifying a lack of commitment or even forgetting what they are. Thinking back to past Lents and ahead to upcoming Ash Wednesday, I’m considering things more practically, and I’m placing hope in Jesus that he’ll fill the gaps and draw me nearer to him. Put these steps into action for your own heart and Lent so like Jesus you’ll rise Easter morning made new and rejuvenated.

1.  Consult with God
You’re too attached to something; we all are. Maybe it’s the idea of control in your life, maybe it’s your own time, location or possessions, maybe it’s the reasons you have for not growing closer to Jesus. God has called you to a particular mission – what’s getting in the way? Consider offering that to God during this time meant for letting go of what is temporal to gain focus on the spiritual. If you’re unsure, ask Him to reveal exactly what He desires of and for your heart during Lent. What attachment needs to die so you can experience a renewed life during Easter? Ask, too, for the grace to see God’s answer.

2.  Post your sacrifices
…not online for everyone to see, but in your own world for your own benefit. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror or inside your coffee cabinet; on the dash in your car or as lock screen on your phone. If you’re reading the Bible or a book of saintly wisdom, keep it in more obvious places so you’ll see it often. Tell a trusted few about your Lenten penance because there is strength in camaraderie.

3.  It’s not about what you give up
Well, not entirely. Lent is a holy invitation to see God clearly by walking away from distractions; and though our part is necessary, it’s Jesus who plays the more active role. Jesus is the one who heals us, who stirs us and who walks with us. Offering things up and ridding ourselves of distraction allows him more space to move in us and through us.

4.  You’re not the only one in the desert
The Lord does not compel His children or call us to do His will, then leave us to do it in our human frailty. Make no mistake, the devil will do his best to draw our attention to ourselves, but like Jesus, we’ll be accompanied by angels and by Christ himself. Jesus always offers grace to help us in what feels difficult or impossible, and because he desires our love and attention, he will uphold us. In the thick of temptation, call on Him for quick aid and grace.

In considering our own bad habits or self-indulgences, it’s common to make Lent about our failings and flaws; to make it about ourselves. Lent, however, is and always has been about the Lord. It’s about drawing strength from Him so we can continue his call for our souls, keeping our eyes focused on him and hearts near heaven.

Stewardship: A Reflection

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by Mike Van Vranken

After living 93 years as a faithful Catholic, Ashley passed from this life to her heavenly reward. She was immediately whisked away to the throne of Jesus where she expected to explain her actions on earth and receive his positive, eternal judgment. She was somewhat surprised with his first question: “Ashley, tell me about the people who ministered to you during your life.” Curiously, she explained how she thought he’d want to know all about what she had done. He promised: “We’ll get to that. For now, tell me about all of those who helped and assisted you.”

“I have to begin with all of the wonderful priests,” she said. “They lovingly and compassionately were always there for me; in times of joy, sadness, pain or happiness. They fed me spiritually, emotionally and were truly your presence in my life. From childhood to my death, they made such a spiritual difference in my earthly experience. I can’t thank you enough for them.” “So, how did you thank them?” Jesus asked. “Oh, I prayed for them daily, baked them cookies, and sometimes even had Masses said for them.”  Jesus lovingly gazed at her, “How did you care for them when they were old and retired?” Curious, she said: “The Church took care of them when they retired.” With gentleness and love, he touched her arm and asked: “But weren’t you part of the Church?” She stood in silence, somewhat embarrassed. She had a deep reverence for and connection with those retired priests, but never thought she could give enough to make a difference for them in their retirement days.

Smiling, he asked her: “Who else ministered to you?”  Beaming, she told him about a poor and vulnerable family who were dear friends of her’s, who needed assistance. She explained how Catholic Charities of North Louisiana not only provided financial help, but also furnished financial training. They even made available children’s necessities from Gabriel’s Closet. She said: “And I always wanted to support our Catholic Charities with donations, but their budget needs were more money than I could give.”

Their conversation continued. She spoke of the wonderful people who work in Hispanic Ministry that provides so much for the active and vibrant faith lives of the rapidly growing Catholic Hispanic community; a community that includes her husband’s family. “We were always so grateful for those who helped with special outreach to Latino Catholics,” she lovingly told Jesus.

She told him about volunteers in Catholic Schools and the many unpaid workers who help with Youth programs. These ministers were so important to her own Catholic upbringing, as well as the faith formation of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She described adult education programs, the beautiful worship celebrations, pro-life ministries, college campus ministries, and the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“All of these people ministered to me in my life,” she told Jesus, “either directly to me and my family, or indirectly to friends I knew and loved.  I am so grateful and appreciative of every one of these beautiful workers and volunteers who provided so much during my lifetime.”

Jesus stood up from his throne, took Ashley by the hand, and they walked into another heavenly room and sat down together. He reverently looked into her eyes and said: “I wish you had been more engaged in helping all of these ministries be available to the thousands of people in North Louisiana.”  She said: “Well, I wish you had told me you wanted that – and even wish you had given me reminders that it was your desire. Besides,” she continued, “you know I never had a lot to donate to so many different ministries. As important as they all were to me, how would I have been able to help them all?”

In his loving, compassionate voice, he softly shared that he reminded her every year of ways she could be engaged in the work of the Church helping these ministry groups. She asked: “When did you remind me of a way that someone like me could be engaged in your work by helping with all of these wonderful works of mercy?”  His response came with more love, tenderness and mercy than she could imagine: “When I gave you, each year, the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal, I was giving you a grace to allow you to be engaged in many of the endeavors of my Church. One small donation, or a monthly gift of just a few dollars, would have connected you with the work of my people as much as someone else giving millions. It was never about the amount you could give. I knew you had such a generous heart that you longed to be able to support these ministries. I never wanted you to be left out. Through this Annual Appeal, I gave to you, and I continue to give to everyone, based on his or her own abilities, an avenue to be fully involved in my Church.”

Please prayerfully visit with God, asking Him who He wants you to be as His steward of the Annual Stewardship Appeal. Then, sit quietly, and wait for his response

Prayer Before Action A Reflection on the Bishops’ Retreat

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, was the leader for the Bishops' Retreat in January. (photo: Catholic News Agency)

by Father Peter Mangum, Diocesan Administrator

We just celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and have brought the Season of Christmas to a conclusion. May the graces of that blessed season of peace and joy remain with us throughout 2019!

I think back to the Baptism of our Lord, which concluded the Christmas season. What was Jesus doing right after He was baptized? The Gospel of Luke tells us: “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,” He saw the Holy Spirit descend and heard His Father’s voice, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Jesus speaks with His Father, and then Heaven opens above Him. Prayer first. The next thing Jesus did, according to Sacred Scripture, was to go off into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, “filled with the Holy Spirit” it says, where He prayed and fasted, (“went on retreat” we could say) and only then did He start to teach!

The importance of prayer before action is seen throughout Sacred Scripture: the need to be prompted by the Holy Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit before acting is essential to move forward in the way God wants us to.

How wonderful our long tradition in the Catholic Church is regarding the necessary relationship between prayer and action, and the importance of prayer preceding action (a lesson for us all). How many of us come up with our plan of action and then get on our knees and ask the Lord to help us accomplish it? But we’re supposed to get on our knees first, find out what the Lord wants us to do, and then, guided by the Holy Spirit, we get to work.

I was away the first week of January with the bishops of this country on a retreat at a seminary north of Chicago. This was at the request of Pope Francis who wanted all the leaders of dioceses (as a group) to take time together in prayer (as a group) on the crisis of faith and conscience and credibility related to the abuse scandals, cover-ups and lack of action. The pope was so insistent on this that he sent Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the very holy Capuchin preacher to the last three popes, to direct the retreat under the theme of “He Appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on Mark 3:14. Here’s the same pattern: Jesus appointed 12 disciples (whose successors are the bishops) first to be with Him, and only after that to go about the ministry!

photo/ Catholic News Agency

At the very start of the retreat, an eight-page letter was handed out to us from the pope, dated the day before. It was written to the bishops for the beginning of the retreat. In it he says that the bishops’ “credibility… cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources.” (emphasis mine) This is precisely what the bishops, acting in a very American pragmatic way and without praying first, were trying to do back in November at the USCCB meeting where Pope Francis told them to postpone the vote for new procedures. He goes on to say that the Gospel demands a change of heart, and that the time and space a weeklong retreat together can provide for silence, prayer and penance is so essential to undertake necessary reforms, and to receive the grace, courage and freedom to reform themselves and the Church.

The pope’s goal was to draw the group of very different men and their ideologies, theologies, ecclesiologies and ways of doing things, closer to one another and our Lord to seek together to find the wisdom and strength necessary to meet the great challenges ahead.

I must admit, I didn’t realize how divided many of the bishops actually are, against each other, or against various groups of bishops, and even with their issues concerning the pope. I asked several bishops about this and they simply responded, “Yes, it’s true.” The pope knows it is true, as he addressed it in his letter, and he knew that huge decisions the bishops face could not be made by a group who were divided; they could not come up with a plan of action and just pray it worked.

Our retreat master, a man steeped in Sacred Scripture and the early Church Fathers, spoke to us several times each day, both in formal conferences and in the homilies at Mass. There was time for quiet reflection, including silent meal times, adoration, Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as talks about the need for “Intimacy with Christ” as our first priority and what it means for the successors of the apostles “to stay with Jesus” on a personal and existential level, and to share Jesus’ “Ardent Prayer for Unity.”

We all participated in a beautiful Penitential Service led by one of the cardinals, themed “The Church on Her Knees,” highlighting the need to personally seek forgiveness and seek forgiveness as a group. There were multiple opportunities for confessions throughout the week, to which many of us availed ourselves.

Through it all, every bishop was so aware of the pain of everyone who has been let down by the Church.

The pattern was established for us all: Prayer and discernment first, then action. Retreat was essential — not to surrender and hide from reality, but to retreat to all that is real and most important, mindful that the future does not rest with any of us alone, but that it belongs to God.

A lasting conversion for the Church will not come without prayer. So this retreat ahead of next month’s Vatican summit on this very issue, (and the gathering of U.S. bishops in June) has given the bishops an opportunity to pray before acting, to heal divisions, work together, and discern the path forward under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit we heard about at the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, who prepared the Son of God for ministry, but only after He prayed and spent time in retreat.

Now that the prayer and reflection has happened, my prayer and yours (I am sure) is that the bishops have the grace to understand where God is leading the Church and the courage to go there!

In our own lives we hope to follow the same pattern: to get on our knees first and find out what the Lord wants us to do, then, guided by the Holy Spirit, we get up and get to work.

Continuing the Mission: 2019 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

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by John Mark Willcox

One might ask these days, “Since our diocese is without a bishop, will we be conducting the Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal?” The answer to that question is a resounding YES! Even though the Diocese of Shreveport is without a chief shepherd, the needs of our Catholic faithful have not dissipated, in fact they remain constant, and some of these needs have even grown larger.

As with our Appeal each year, major funds are allocated to providing for our retired and infirm clergy while subsidizing the education of our seminarians who will become our future priests. Our list of retired priests includes nine holy men who have given a life of service to the people of our diocese and they are certainly worthy of Appeal assistance. Replacing these men with newly ordained priests remains an urgent priority and your Appeal donations support the cost of room and board for educating our seminarians. Our diocese is fortunate to have a strong contingent of seven men in seminary training and we were blessed to ordain Fr. Duane Trombetta to the priesthood in 2018 and look forward to Kevin Mues’ ordination in May of this year!


The charitable endeavors of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, Campus Ministry still depend on Appeal generosity to actively pursue their missions to make a real difference in thousands of lives within our regional boundaries. Appeal funding this year will help fund efforts to increase the leadership capacity of our diverse and growing Hispanic population. It also sponsors outreach to our youth and young adults through programs like “Theology on Tap,” which serves and supports members among our faithful in their young years of adulthood.

Appeal dollars also support our Office of Catholic Schools, catechesis for our youth in local parishes, and consistent, high quality liturgies through our Office of Worship. Our wonderful Slattery Library is now staffed each weekday and our Appeal supported Safe Environment Program continues to assist our parishes and schools in providing the very best in enriching environments for youth and young adults. Every issue of our monthly diocesan news magazine, The Catholic Connection is also completely funded by your generosity to our Appeal.

“Continuing the Mission” is our Appeal theme for this year and that is exactly what we intend to do,” comments our Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev. Peter B. Mangum. “So much of our outreach and ministry as a committed family of Catholic Christians is impacted by our Annual Appeal and that is why we plan to work diligently to keep the success of our Appeal a priority. I ask that every capable member of our united Catholic family choose to support our Appeal this year so that working together, we can see to the many needs of our worship community.”

Appeal Sunday this year falls on February 17th; please take some time until then to consider your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 31, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. Please take time to join me in prayer for the success of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal.

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

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by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights Raise Funds to Purchase Ultrasound Machine

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story and photos by Kelly Phelan Powell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saying Goodbye to Father Richard Lombard

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by Lucy Medvec

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

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

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

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