Category Archives: Events

Fidel Mondragon’s Ordination

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by Jessica Rinaudo

Before Fidel Mondragon landed in the Diocese of Shreveport, he spent many years in various seminaries, countries and a religious order, discerning the vocation God had planned for his life. After being a seminarian for the Diocese of Dallas, which downsized their foreign vocations, Fidel returned to Mexico before becoming a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport. That was two years ago.

And Fidel has made the most out of his two years as a seminarian for our diocese. He first went to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans where he took review classes on the sacraments and history of the Church, as well as English as a Second Language. He relished this time both for improving his English and for getting to know his brother seminarians of our diocese. Of them Fidel said,  “I got to know them, because once a month we would have dinner together – we would talk about how things were going.”

After finishing his seminary classes in May of last year, Fidel moved to Mansfield, where he assisted Fr. Matthew Long in parish life.
“When I arrived in Mansfield, I got involved with the community,” said Fidel. “I helped the Hispanic and Anglo communities… I started a new program – Christian Formation for Adults and Bible classes with Hispanics on Tuesdays. I visited people, I prayed the rosary with them. I helped Fr. Matthew with the Masses.”

During this time he also taught adult formation classes and assisted with retreats at St. Mary of the Pines in Shreveport, and Christ the King in Bossier City. His formation classes expanded to St. Thomas Aquinas in Ruston and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Farmerville, allowing Fidel to become acquainted with people across the diocese.

It was during this time that Fidel organized a Year of Mercy event for the Hispanic community.

“Rosalba Quiroz [Hispanic Ministry Director] asked me to organize the visit to the Holy Door with the Hispanic Community because it was the Year of Mercy. We invited all of the diocese. … We organized a Stations of the Cross and did them in the Cathedral. After that, we explained the Year of Mercy, the meaning of mercy and why Pope Francis convoked the Year of Mercy. Then we had a holy hour with Fr. Rigo Betancurt, Fr. Al Jost and Fr. Blane O’Neill.  Bishop Duca was there, too,” said Fidel.

On December 10, 2016, Fidel was ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Mary of the Pines, and a month later Bishop Duca assigned him to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, also serving St. Mary of the Pines two days a week. He still continues in this assignment.

“In the Cathedral I help with the everyday Mass and I have helped two times with the homily in English,” said Fidel “I help with the funerals, with the school Masses.”

After two years, Fidel has adjusted from life in Mexico to life in north Louisiana, and embraces his vocation here with open arms. The people and clergy, in turn, have welcomed him warmly.

“I am so grateful for Bishop Duca and all the priests here. They are very kind to me and welcome me. They tell me, ‘Fidel you are welcome. We are very glad to have you.’ They encourage me,” said Fidel.

“I feel comfortable here, I feel welcome in both communities. The Spanish community, ok they love you, but the Anglo community is very warm and they receive me,” added Fidel.

“I want to be part of this diocese, to consecrate my life as a priest,” he said.

And after so many years of discerning and traveling, Fidel is excited to finally be approaching his ordination to the priesthood and his ministry as a Catholic priest.

“I look forward to helping the people. I want to be the person who can manifest this mercy of God, this love of God and help the people be close to Christ. Because I talk with the people… they need somebody to hear them. I know my priest ordination is close, but this is when my work will begin,” said Fidel.
He added, “I remember my instructors in the seminary said, ‘This is not your goal to be a priest. The goal is first, your salvation.’ Following this vocation, I want to be with God, but I want many people, through me to be saved, too. They will hear the Word of God. I can give the Body of Christ. I can forgive sins, it is not me, but I can be this instrument. … This is what I want most for the people: to be this instrument to manifest the mercy of God, the love of God and drive them to Christ.”

As he reflected back on his long journey to the priesthood, Fidel shared stories of his time in seminary. One in particular reflected his vocational path.
“Sometimes when I was walking in the seminary, I would say, ‘I have this class and it is very difficult. And I will have a presentation tomorrow and the priest, he is tough.’ But I did my presentation, and when I finished I felt very good. I said, ‘This is not me on my own. Many people are praying for me, for my vocation. My family, my friends, the people around the world are praying for the seminarians, for the priests. … And after this difficult presentation I went to the chapel and I said, ‘Thank you God. For you are behind me, you sustain me. And I want to continue – because if you continue calling me, I want to continue answering you.’”

Fidel’s ordination to the priesthood will be Saturday, June 10, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Bishop Michael Duca will ordain Fidel as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport. All members of the faithful are encouraged to attend.

“As a diocese, we are fortunate that Fidel’s journey has brought him to us so that he can serve the wonderful people of our region,” said Bishop Duca.  “I am anxious for our local Church to benefit from his ministry as an ordained priest and I believe he has so much to offer to our entire faith community.”

Catholic Charities Presents Bingo on the Bayou

by Lucy Medvec

Catholic Charities’ popular fundraiser, “Bingo on the Bayou,” is returning this year on Saturday, August 19th.  After selling out last year’s event, “Bingo on the Bayou” will move to East Ridge Country Club in order to accommodate more people.  In addition to seven games of bingo, the fundraiser will include dinner and a silent auction.

Local priests from around the diocese will once again serve as bingo callers for the event with prizes being gift certificates to upscale local restaurants.
All proceeds from “Bingo on the Bayou” will benefit the programs of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana including financial education, emergency assistance, healthy eating classes, parenting programs and assistance for low-income mothers, and immigration services.

Individual tickets are $50 each with table sponsor levels of $750, $1000, and $1500.  Dress is casual and the event is open to guests 21 years and older.
If you are interested in serving on the event committee, please contact Lucy Medvec at lmedvec@ccnla.org.  For sponsorship information or to order tickets, please contact the Catholic Charities office at 318-865-0200 ext. 101.

Plans for SVdP Banquet Underway

Presentation at the 2016 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet, "Not Too Far From Here."

by Jim Beadles, Vice President of Diocesan Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Blessings come in many diverse packages. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is no exception.  As a mission, more than 275 local Vincentians provide services such as rent and utility assistance, furniture, food and pharmacy services. The entire organization consists of volunteers.  There is no paid staff or overhead, and virtually every dollar raised goes to help those in need.  In 2016, local Vincentians conducted more than 2,400 in-home visits, and helped more than 12,000 of our neighbors.

All of our resources come from the generosity of the community, and we are grateful for the gifts that sustain our ministry.  Our primary fundraiser each year is the St. Vincent de Paul Annual Banquet, which will be held this year on September 12 at the Bossier Civic Center.

To say we were blessed by being a part of the 2016 banquet would be a gross understatement.  The theme of last year was based on the song, “Not Too Far From Here.” That song has a strong message that regardless of where you are, you do not have to look very far to find someone waiting for you to be the face of Christ in their life.

We had two incredible speakers:  Bishop Lawrence Brandon from Praise Temple, and Dr. Pat Day from First United Methodist  And, if that was not enough, the Centenary Choir performed several songs, including the theme song, leaving most of us speechless and inspired.

The success of the 2016 Banquet set the bar high for 2017.  We heard from so many people about how much they enjoyed the program, as well as from many who were unable to attend but heard about it, that we decided to present the “Not Too Far From Here…Encore” for the 2017 St. Vincent de Paul Banquet.
This year, we have as speakers Andrew Randall from Abounding Faith Temple, and Dr. Brad Jurkovich from First Bossier.  Having speakers from other faiths is important, as we understand that no one faith or group can create the systemic change needed to truly make a difference in the lives of those we serve.
The Centenary Choir will also make a return appearance!  Please join us on September 12, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bossier Civic Center.  Tickets will go on sale soon. Look for more information in your bulletins and online at our website www.svdpshreveport.org, or on Facebook at St. Vincent de Paul Shreveport.
On behalf of all Vincentians, I want to thank Bishop Duca for the continued blessing of his support.  It is sincerely appreciated.  See you in September! •

Join Us for Summer Catholic Camps for Teens!

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Dear Parents,

As parents of teenagers, you want the very best for your children. As faithful Catholics, you want them to grow closer to the Church in their teen years, not drift away from it. You want them to discover their true vocations in life, whatever they may be. Most of all, you want your child to be happy – to be well educated, well rounded and well loved.

I want those things for your children, too. And not just for your kids, but for every teenager in our diocese. That’s essentially why we created the Mission Possible and Beloved summer camps. Over the past six years, I’ve seen firsthand what these camps do for our Catholic teens. Time and again, I’ve seen the proverbial “light bulb” go off, not just in their heads, but in their hearts.

In a very real way, our annual Summer Camps help “launch” teens into life. The camps are a springboard for becoming strong men and women who love Jesus and the Church, and are open to God’s will in their lives.

As I look back on my young adulthood, I can pinpoint key moments when I made choices for good – choices for God. For me, these moments began in my teens and continued in my twenties. I can say with sincerity that I wish I would have attended a camp like the ones offered by our diocese.

So I want to encourage you in the strongest possible language: please seriously consider registering your child for Beloved (July 13-16) or Mission Possible (July 16-19). Yes, the campers are going to have a blast. Yes, they are going to come home tired and happy. But most all, they are going to return home with a renewed love for Jesus. That, of course, is what matters most in life.

May the Lord bless you and your family in this Easter Season!

In Christ through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Matthew Long

Movie Showings of Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima for 100th Anniversary

May 13, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima.

In our continuing efforts of evangelization through media, the 1952 Warner Brothers production of the true story of the apparition, Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, will be shown at the Catholic Center in Shreveport on Tuesday, May 23, at 6:00 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 24, at 2:00 p.m., as well as at the Monroe Civic Center on Thursday, May 25, at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

This movie gives a moving and accurate account of the 1917 events in full color and in true Hollywood fashion on the big movie screen, starring, among others, Gilbert Roland.

This movie is based upon the Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children living in Fatima, Portugal. The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The reported apparitions at Fatima were accepted to be believed by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date.

This event is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.dioshpt.org, or call 318-868-4441.

Shreveport’s Cathedral to be Featured on EWTN

“Within the Orb of Glories Wearing”

Music by Kermit Poling Performed by the Shreveport Festival String Quartet Narrated by Father Peter Mangum

The Shreveport Festival String Quartet performed Kermit Poling’s original music reflecting on the lives of seven saints – Within the Orb of Glories Wearing!  It will air on EWTN in the United States on May 21, at 12:30 p.m.!

The musical reflection celebrates the lives of seven saints through a seven-movement piece for string quartet by composer Kermit Poling.  The saints’ lives featured are St. Paul, St. Cecelia, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Br. Joseph Thamby, and St. John Berchmans.

Shreveport’s Red Mass Celebrates 25 Years

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by John Mark Willcox

The year was 1992, only six years had passed since the creation of our diocese and several Catholics in the law field, joined by another group of supportive lawyers and judges from other faith traditions, sought to renew the age old tradition of the Red Mass to invoke God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice.  Red is chosen for the Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit and the first Friday in May was selected to coincide with the nation’s Law Week.

Holy Trinity Church was chosen as the home of the Red Mass and the late Msgr. William O’Hanlon joined with a group of law professionals including Larry and Janey Pettiette, the late Don Miller (a non-Catholic), along with Trudy Daniel and others and they began the planning for the first Red Mass presided over by our late Bishop William B. Friend.  That first Friday in May of 1992 saw every Louisiana Supreme Court Justice seated at Holy Trinity to witness a unique and meaningful ecumenical gathering of those connected to the administration of law which included a real and heart-felt blessing placed upon those with the awesome responsibility of carrying out this task in our nation of freedom.

In the 25 years since, the Red Mass of Shreveport has seen a host of visiting bishops, prelates, one cardinal and the Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court as special guests for this time-honored tradition.  “We have been beyond blessed by the success of our Red Mass,” commented Shreveport attorney Larry Pettiette.  “The people of our shared field of law have really bought into the Red Mass, and participation among our associates has just been fantastic.”  Special honorees are also chosen each year for recognition of their ministry of the people of the region.  “We like to honor organizations that provide for people and our Red Mass provides that opportunity,” commented Pettiette.

Bishop WIlliam B. Friend at the 2004 Red Mass.

Current Holy Trinity Pastor Msgr. Earl V. Provenza remains amazed at how the Red Mass has been able to attract interest from across the nation.  “We wanted Cardinal Egan to join us in 2008, so Bishop Friend offered him an invitation and he accepted,” said Provenza.  “We continued to dream big so Judge Henry A. Politz sent an invitation to Anton Scalia in 2005, and low and behold, he joined us as well.”  Msgr. Provenza will serve as Master of Ceremonies and our own Bishop Michael Duca will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this special 25th year of the Red Mass.

All are invited to be a part of the ongoing tradition of this year’s Red Mass which will take place on Friday, May 5th, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport beginning at 9:00 a.m.  Holy Angels Residential Facility will be the special honoree for 2017.  A reception at the Petroleum Club will follow.

Good Friday Way of the Cross

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19th Walk for Justice

by Brian Burgess

As Americans we are called to stand with justice, yet it is not often that we have the opportunity as an individual to make a clear and decisive public statement in support of this essential virtue.  This Good Friday, April 14, you have such an opportunity!  We invite you to join others throughout Shreveport in proclaiming justice and mercy in a very public forum by a special “Way of the Cross” that seeks to unite the suffering of Christ with the suffering that exists in the world today.

This Good Friday remembrance will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church on Texas Street in downtown Shreveport.  Local social justice and service organizations will offer prayers, hymns and reflections at each of the 14 stations. Participants will walk a little more than a mile through downtown Shreveport while stopping at various sites (stations).  This annual devotion focuses on the passion of Christ as reflected in the eyes of those who suffer abandonment, abuse, illness and poverty – those in need we are called to serve.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the sponsoring group. Those interested in attending this ecumenical service should gather by 9:00 a.m. on Good Friday in the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church. The service will last approximately an hour and 40 minutes and ample parking is available at the church.

Divine Mercy Sunday Activies

by Julia Doolin

The first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy.  This year, that date falls on April 23.  The devotion to the Divine Mercy began spreading throughout the world in the 1930’s and is based upon private revelations to a young Polish nun, now known as St. Faustina.  The message is not a new one, but is instead a reminder of what the Church has always taught through Scripture and tradition:  That God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness.  But the message of the Divine Mercy devotion calls people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone – especially the greatest sinners.   In a decree dated May 23, 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.”  Taking the declaration of the feast day a step further, the Apostolic Penitentiary announced on August 3, 2002, that in order “to ensure that the faithful would observe Divine Mercy Sunday with intense devotion, the Supreme Pontiff himself established that this Sunday be enriched by a plenary indulgence…so that the faithful might receive in great abundance the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit.”

With regard to the plenary indulgence associated with Divine Mercy Sunday, the usual conditions apply: sacramental confession (typically several days before or after the indulgenced act), Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff. The faithful are asked to gather in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”)

This year, two parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport are providing an entire weekend of Divine Mercy events. On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Fr. Michael Gaitley of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, will present a Divine Mercy Retreat at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. Register for the retreat at www.marian.org.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered at the end of the retreat.  In preparation for the retreat, it is recommended that participants read the book 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

On Sunday, April 23, St. Joseph Church, located at 211 Atlantic Avenue in Shreveport, will host a holy hour in honor of Divine Mercy Sunday.  The holy hour will begin promptly at 2:30 p.m. and will include the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as well as veneration of the Divine Mercy image.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available immediately following the holy hour.  •

Jo Cazes Retires, Leaves Legacy at SJB School

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by Kelly Phelan Powell

After 44 years spent changing the lives of students, Jo Cazes’ own life will take a happy turn when, at the end of the school year, she retires from her distinguished career as an educator and school administrator. The Principal of St. John Berchmans Catholic School in Shreveport for the last 12 years, Cazes will leave SJB a much better place than when she found it. The school’s many lofty achievements during her tenure (just one example: SJB has won the Science Olympiad State Championship for eight years running) are due to many factors and tremendous effort on the part of teachers and staff, but one of the most profound and lasting changes Cazes made was asking students to step up and take ownership in every aspect of their school. The results have been consistent academic excellence, improved facilities and a better organized place to learn, teach and work.

When Cazes’ career began at Alexandria Senior High School in Rapides Parish, she never imagined that she would spend the majority of her career in Catholic schools. The Lord, however, decided that Catholic schools were exactly where she needed to be. Looking back, she marvels at how perfectly all the pieces fit together that led her to St. John Berchmans. “I’ve often thought of writing a book,” she said, “and I’d call it, Connect the Dots.” The past Louisiana Environmental Science Teacher of the Year and Regional Teacher of the Year moved from Alexandria to New Orleans with her husband Geoffrey’s career, and the family landed in Birmingham, AL in 1984. Throughout each move, she made a point to continue her education with graduate courses and professional development. “Every time we moved, I went to school,” she said.

During her time in Birmingham, Cazes was Principal of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School. It was at OLV that she first became involved with Science Olympiad, the organization that would become one of her finest legacies at St. John Berchmans. In 1995, she became Assistant Principal of Curriculum at John Carroll Catholic High School, a position she accepted on one condition: she wanted to teach a class. She remained at John Carroll for a decade. After her son settled in Shreveport, she and her husband decided to keep the family close and moved.

Upon arriving in Shreveport, she met with Frank Israel, former Principal of Loyola College Prep, who connected her with Sister Carol Shively, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Shreveport. Shively hired her as a consultant for St. John Berchmans, doing professional development and teacher observations. “I fell in love with the teachers,” she said. She accepted the Principal position in 2005, and she’s been leading the school forward ever since.

One of Cazes’ greatest accomplishments for the school has been its total physical renovation. Together with Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral, the school has had a major facelift with summer projects every year since 2006. Some of those projects include new floors, walls and lighting in the multi-room and cafeteria, a renovated office area and computer lab, a new playground, an elevator and, most recently, a brand new parish hall and library and technology center.

Assistant Principal Jennifer Deason, will succeed Cazes, and Trey Woodham, recently awarded Regional Coach of the Year, will be the new Assistant Principal.  Together they will continue to build a lasting legacy and quality education at St. John Berchmans.

In retirement, Cazes hopes to spend more time with her three grandchildren, and there’s no doubt she’ll continue her lifelong love of learning. “I continue learning from everyone I meet,” she said.

There will be a retirement reception in her honor after the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday, April 30 in the Parish Hall at St. John Berchmans. All are invited to attend and say farewell to the Principal whom the school will miss nearly as much as she will miss it. “I love this school,” she said, and it shows.