Category Archives: Events

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.

7 Reasons for Laypeople to Explore the UD Catholic Formation Program in Our Diocese

from the University of Dallas

A moment of silence can be a rare thing in this day and age — and a few minutes to catch your breath even rarer. Our days are full of buzzing phones, pinging social notifications, meetings and surprises — not to mention those hectic Sunday mornings tumbling into the pew just as the entrance chant begins. What if you had the opportunity to slow down? To take in that moment of silence while growing in faith, service and community?

Now, there’s a new way to do just that through a new Catholic formation program in the Diocese of Shreveport from University of Dallas for both laypeople and aspiring deacons. Here are seven reasons to explore the new program:

1) Journeying in faith with a community is always more transformational than we think. If you’re looking for a “boost” in your spiritual life, this program brings believers together to learn more about the Lord and His church. You will experience a unique level of communication among faculty and peers who support, challenge and illuminate one another at every turn.

2) You get to learn from the University of Dallas’ nationally recognized theology faculty. The professors have served on the “front lines” of ministry in leadership positions and bring their experience into their teaching, like Professor Jim McGill, an expert in applied ministry who also has 40-plus years’ experience directing adult religious education programs in parish settings.

3) If you haven’t yet undertaken a comprehensive study of your Catholic faith, now is the time. The four-year program covers a broad scope of topics, including Christian spirituality, sacred Scripture, the Catholic Church in America, the history of liturgy and bioethics.

4) Don’t worry if four years sounds like a big commitment. Aspiring deacons take all four years of formation in sequence, but laypeople can participate at their own pace. Take a course for a 10-week session and see how it goes; then, when you’re ready for more, go for it!

5) Courses are offered through an educational partnership with the University of Dallas, which brings its intellectual resources to the life of the local Church. The university consistently enjoys a spot on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the top 10 Catholic colleges in the West and is recommended by the Cardinal Newman Guide. The university also organizes the annual Dallas Ministry Conference, which draws nearly 5,000 attendees.

6) The more you grow in knowledge of the faith, the more you’ll grow in your life of service, both personally and professionally. As Pope Francis shared in one general audience, “You may know the whole Bible, you may know all the liturgical rubrics, you may know all theology, but from this knowledge love is not automatic: loving has another path, it requires intelligence, but also something more. … There is no true worship if it is not translated into service to neighbor.”

7) Earn a Certificate of Theological Studies upon completion of the program. This continuing education certificate from the University of Dallas recognizes that you’ve worked hard and grown intellectually, spiritually and professionally —  and you’re ready for mission. Now we go together to “make disciples for all the world” (Mt. 28:19).

Interested in learning more about the Diaconate Intellectual Formation Program? Contact Deacon Clary Nash, director of the Permanent Deacon Formation Program, at 318-219-7303, or cnash@dioshpt.org. The program is open to both lay ministers and aspiring deacons. Classes start fall 2017.

Ignatius of Loyola Movie Coming to Diocese of Shreveport

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by Randy Tiller

Ignatius Press announced the new theatrical release of Ignatius of Loyola, Solider, Sinner, Saint on December 1, 2016. Due to the past relationship our diocese has with Ignatius Press, the Diocese of Shreveport was one of the first to be offered the opportunity to book a showing for this film.

Not since the release of Mary of Nazareth and Restless Heart has there been such an epic Catholic film of this scope, quality and grandeur. The last full-length feature film on St. Ignatius of Loyola was produced over 70 years ago.

Filmed on location in Spain with an extremely talented cast of Spanish actors, the story of Ignatius, his tumultuous life, passions, sinfulness, conversion and ultimately virtuous life bursts onto the screen and into the minds and hearts of the viewers, illuminating the life of St. Ignatius like never before.

The story of St. Ignatius is as relevant today as it was more than 500 years ago. And now, our diocese is able to offer an opportunity to view this powerful story in the Holoubek Theatre at the Catholic Center, located at 3500 Fairfield Avenue in Shreveport.

This outstanding Catholic film is being brought to our diocese for the purpose of evangelization and entertainment.

The diocese is offering this film on three different days and times so that everyone will have an opportunity to view it. Although there is no admission charge, donations are accepted. Your generosity makes it possible to continue bringing such events to our theatre.

Showings will be as follows:
• Wednesday March 22, at 2:00 p.m.
• Thursday, March 23, at 6:00 p.m.
• Friday, March 24, at 8:30 a.m. for middle and high school students. (The producers advise the film is not suited for under 13 years of age).

Souvenir bookmarks will be handed out at each showing as a memento of the screening. Patrons will also have the opportunity to purchase DVDs for sale at the theatre after the screening. They will only be available at the theatre, not online or at other locations until its general release after April 2017.
Some interesting facts:

In 1521, Ignatius was struck by a cannonball in the legs. One leg was merely broken, but the other was badly mangled. After suffering for a month, his doctors warned him to prepare for death. Ignatius began to improve and part of one leg was amputated. During his healing, Ignatius began to read De Vita Christi (The Life of Christ). The book would inspire Ignatius’ own spiritual exercises.

Other men joined his exercises and became followers of Ignatius. The group began to refer to themselves as “Friends in the Lord.” Pope Paul III received the group and approved them as an official religious order in 1540. They called themselves the Society of Jesus. Some people who did not appreciate their efforts dubbed them “Jesuits” in an attempt to disparage them.  Before Ignatius died in 1556, his order established 35 schools and boasted 1,000 members.
For more information about the movie, contact Randy Tiller, 318-868-4441, or rtiller@dioshpt.org.

Catholic Youth Day Coming March 11!

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by Nicky Prevou

Middle school and high school youth and their adult leaders are eagerly looking forward to Saturday, March 11. Catholic Youth Day (CYD) 2017 will be held at St. Paschal Parish, located at 711 North 7th Street in West Monroe.

The schedule will include opportunities for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Reconciliation, dynamic praise and worship experiences, interactive workshops, fellowship and a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Duca. Hundreds of Catholic youth from  across the diocese are planning to attend the event.

Selah Storm and Nikki Tinnerello, who serve as volunteer youth ministry leaders at St. Paschal Parish, said that they are “thrilled” that their parish will be hosting this year’s fun-filled event.

“We at St. Paschal’s often get together with several of the small area parishes for retreats and other events, so we’re especially excited to have other parishes from other parts of the diocese join us for Catholic Youth Day. We are so happy that we are able to invite everyone to share in the strong foundation of faith that we offer to our Catholic youth,” said Selah.

“It’s always valuable for our young people to gather and share their Catholic faith, to enjoy the camaraderie, the prayerfulness and the excitement of the day,” added Nikki.

Both the youth leaders and their own teenage sons are especially looking forward to hearing this year’s keynote presenter, the internationally recognized Catholic liturgical musician and speaker Jesse Manibusan, whom they have previously seen in concert.

“Jesse will most definitely bring so much to our diocese,” Selah reflected. “He is very high-energy and engaging, but he is also so soulful, tender, and multi-faceted in his ability to share his faith with people of all ages.”

Kevin Prevou, Diocesan Director of  Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said all youth, grades six through 12, and their adult leaders are encouraged to register for the all-day event.

“Our team has been prayerfully preparing for March 11, and we have several hoped-for outcomes, based on the theme for the day, ‘iBelieve’,” said Kevin. “We want our young people to grow in their own sense of Catholic identity and belonging to their Catholic parish and diocesan family. We want them to connect their call to discipleship with the challenge to truly live out their faith, and we are offering an opportunity to grow in their sense of excitement and energy around their relationship with Christ.”

Christian recording artist Dave Fitzgerald will lead participants in praise and worship, and ministry leaders will offer break-out sessions on topics such as “Using Social Networks to Evangelize Others: Do’s and Dont’s”; “Catholic Teachings Every Teen Needs to Know by Heart”; and “Diving Into the Catholic Catechism: Be Not Afraid!”

Other sessions will offer opportunities to make rosaries and to create “Blessing Bags.” Dianne Rachal, diocesan Director of Worship, will lead a session on youth leadership in parishes as lectors, greeters, ushers and altar servers.

Kevin noted that members of the Diocesan Youth Council have helped to prepare the plans for the day, which will include “Interactive Faith Games,” the “My Catholic Faith Contest” and “Stump the Bishop!”

Jean Rains, who serves as the Director of Religious Education for St. John the Baptist Parish in Many, said that participation in CYD is “very important” to the youth of her parish.

“We live in an area that is predominantly non-Catholic,” Jean explained. “Our children find themselves in the position of trying to defend their faith, and that can be uncomfortable. I like for them to see that they are not alone, that they can enjoy learning with other youth of their own faith and develop friendships with kids from other parishes.”

Early registration for CYD 2017 is $30 a person through February 24. Regular registration is $35 per person February 25-March 7, and all registrations after March 7, including at-the-door, are $40. Registration includes entry into all CYD events, breakfast, snacks, lunch and a commemorative t-shirt. For more information or to register, go to www.dioshpt.org/ministries/youth-young-adult-ministry/ and click on the Catholic Youth Day icon, or contact Kevin Prevou at 318-219-7258, or kprevou@dioshpt.org, or Gabby Willis at 318-219-7257, or gwillis@dioshpt.org.

Calling Catholics Home

During the 2017 Lenten season, parishes throughout the diocese are taking the opportunity to welcome back those who were “once Catholic” through the program “Calling Catholics Home.” If you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church for a while, this invitation is for you. Our faith community misses you and is incomplete without you. No matter how long you have been away, and for whatever reason, we invite you to consider renewing your relationship with the Catholic Church.

Please join us for informal sessions and an update of the Catholic faith. The sessions are conducted in a support-group format with speakers including local lay people, priests, deacons and Bishop Michael Duca. Everyone is welcome.

Please keep this program in mind while visiting with friends and family who might be fallen away Catholics.

This six week program will take place at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Parish Hall, located at 939 Jordan Street in Shreveport, on Tuesdays, beginning February 21, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. For more information, contact Kathy Snelling at 318-423-0112, or go to www.callingcatholicshome.com.  •

The Heart of Saint John Berchmans Comes to the Cathedral

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Unique Relic Comes to Shreveport in Honor of Saint’s 150th Anniversary of Miracle in Louisiana
by Jessica Rinaudo

On December 8, the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host a unique and exciting historical and spiritual event when a rare Catholic relic – the literal heart of Saint John Berchmans – makes its way from Belgium to Shreveport. This special event coincides with the 150th anniversary of the apparition and miracle of St. John Berchmans that occurred in Louisiana.

The presence of this relic in our diocese is uniquely special because this is the first time the heart has ever traveled outside of its homeland, modern day Belgium. Accompanied by the pastor of the church where Saint John Berchmans was baptized, the heart will make its way to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, the only cathedral in the world named for this saint.

Once it arrives, it will stay at the Cathedral from December 8 – 18, except for one day, December 14, when it will travel to Grand Coteau, Louisiana, the site of the apparition and miracle. During the heart’s stay at the Cathedral, there are scheduled times for veneration and for Mass, as well as a series of events and talks related to the saint and relics that are free and open to the public.

Who was Saint John Berchmans?

John Berchmans was born in 1599 in Diest, which is modern day Belgium.  In 1615, at age 16, John enrolled in a newly opened Jesuit college. There he felt called to join the Society of Jesus despite his father’s wishes to the contrary. In 1616, he entered the Jesuit novitiate.

John was known for his kindness and endearing personality and he wished to become an army chaplain after being ordained and in hopes of being martyred on the battlefield.  He was known for valuing little, ordinary things and for his special devotion to Mary. All those who knew him, and even those who only glimpsed him, called him “the Angel” for his purity and ability to chase away sadness.

After making his first vows in Antwerp, he was sent to Rome to study philosophy. He penned the Chaplet of the Immaculate Conception, which is still prayed today.

In 1621, he succumbed to “Roman fever,” and on August 13, 1621, at the age of 22, he died.

Many stories of miracles have arisen since his death, but the one that led to his canonization took place in Grand Coteau, Louisiana.  At the convent of the Sacred Heart, novice Mary Wilson had fallen gravely ill. She and a group of sisters prayed a novena for healing through the intercession of the recently beatified Blessed John Berchmans. On the ninth and final day of the novena, he appeared to her in her sickness and she was immediately and completely healed.

The Heart of Saint John Berchmans

Relics are an integral part of our rich faith tradition. “The veneration of relics is a communion with the heroes of our Christian faith, asking for their powerful intercession,” said Fr. Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. “Many people have reported outstanding blessings and conversions through this ministry, and many have reported healings.”

“The earliest of churches were built over cemeteries because that’s where the body was,” he continued. “These are the people without whom the faith would not be passed down to the next generation. Even to this day, a little tiny relic is placed into each altar where we place the Body and Blood of Christ. We no longer build churches over cemeteries, so in a sense we bring the cemetery, or we bring part of the relic to the church,” he added.

“Relics are important,” Fr. Mangum continued, “and the relics we normally see are just little fragments of clothing, a habit or something of the saint, even a part of the body. And for us in the United States, we may see a fragment of the bone, almost the size of a splinter. In other areas of the world, especially if a saint is from there, you’ll see perhaps an entire bone intact.”

Why his heart was saved after his death is a subject of curiosity for some, but something that is easily explained. Before Berchmans died, he was already well known for his spirituality and sanctity. Fr. Mangum likened him to modern day Mother Teresa. People knew they were seeing a living, walking saint. People would go to Mass to see him serve.

At the time of John’s death, there was a postmortem examination and his heart was noted to be in good condition.

“He died in the city of Rome in 1621. They couldn’t take his body and cross the Alps, and go all the way back to his home in now modern day northern Belgium,” said Fr. Mangum.  “One of the Flemish Jesuit priests was returning to his homeland and that’s when the decision was made to take his heart. And as he went home – a two and a half months’ journey – the priest stayed at Jesuit houses along the way and the other Jesuits venerated Berchmans’ heart, on bended knee.”

Since that time the heart, under attentive and proper care, has remained relatively incorrupt and now resides in a beautiful reliquary that has remained in Belgium.

The Saint’s Heart in Shreveport
This extraordinary event is garnering a lot of excitement and anticipation. The Cathedral has been contacted by Jesuit groups across the south, and has already scheduled groups to see the planned exhibit on Saint John Berchmans, which will be displayed in the parish hall, as well as have the opportunity to venerate the heart.

The exhibit will include documents from the original canonization process. They haven’t been opened since the late 1800’s, but will be brought to the Diocese of Shreveport by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ chief archivist, Emilie Leumas.

There will also be extra parish Masses in the evenings and on Saturday morning in addition to their regularly scheduled ones, during which the heart will be present and parishioners and pilgrims alike will have the opportunity to come forward, as individuals or as a family, to venerate the heart and honor the saint, praising the holiness of God.

Of particular note, Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, an American who lives at the Vatican, will be on hand for a public talk and Mass. Fr. Carlos Martins, of Treasures of the Church, will bring relics of many other saints and will speak of the importance of relics. Comic strip artist Andrew Thomas, who has drawn the life story of St. John Berchmans, will offer a public talk and will also speak with the nearly 700 students of Loyola and St. John Berchmans Cathedral School.

“Thomas will evangelize the youth by means of art,” said Fr. Mangum. “They’re looking at this scene, they’re hearing about his life.  He’s going to teach and encourage the people to follow the example and the virtues of this young saint.”

St. John Berchmans was once a well-known and beloved saint – one of only 21 that Pope Leo XIII canonized during his long papacy. But with time and the canonization of more saints, the knowledge of John and his sanctity has faded. Fr. Mangum hopes that bringing this relic to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will shine light on him once again.

“My hope is that people will come to know, yet again, about him … appreciate him, his life, his times and have a greater personal devotion and want to follow his example of obedience, chastity, his love of Mary and the Blessed Sacrament, doing all things, even the smallest of things, very, very well. If you’re asked to do something, then do it and put your whole heart into it,” said Fr. Mangum.

The schedule of events, including Masses, speakers and veneration times, is available at www.sjbdevotion.org. Individuals are welcome to all events, but groups should call the Cathedral’s office at 318-221-5296 before coming.

 

Calendar of Events:

The heart will be present at all scheduled parish Masses, as
well as additional evening and weekend Masses. For a full
schedule of Masses, Chaplets of the Immaculate Conception, veneration times and speaking events, visit
www.sjbdevotion.org/calendar-of-events

Thursday, December 8
Immaculate Conception

  • Heart Arrives
  • Parish Masses with Heart present at 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (with Bishop Duca).

Sunday, December 11
Gaudete Sunday

  • Dr. Cheryl White, “Theology of Relics,” 9:15 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.
  • Procession with Heart after 11:00 a.m. Mass
  • Traditional Latin Mass, 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 14
150th Anniversary of Apparition and Miracle

  • Heart in Grand Coteau, LA

Thursday, December 15

  • Heart Returns to Shreveport
  • Mass with Bishop Duca, 5:00 p.m.
  • Andrew Thomas, “New Evangelization Using Comics to Spread the Gospel Messages to Our Youth,” 6:30 p.m.

Friday, December 16

  • Fr. Carlos Martins, “Exposition of Sacred Relics,” 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 17

  • Fr. Carlos Martins, “Exposition of Sacred Relics,” 9:00 a.m.
  • Emilie Leumas, “Presentation and Exhibition of Archival Material from SJB Canonization Proceedings,” 10:00 a.m.
  • Fr. Peter Mangum, “The Heart of St. John Berchmans,” 11:00 a.m.

Sunday, December 18
Fourth Sunday of Advent

  • Heart’s Last Day at Cathedral Mass, 8:00 a.m.
  • Mass with Edwin Cardinal O’Brien, 11:00 a.m.
  • Final Veneration until 2:30 p.m.

Fidel Mondragón to be Ordained to Transitional Diaconate

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On December 10, 2016, seminarian Fidel Mondragón will be ordained to the transitional diaconate, one of the final steps a seminarian takes before being ordained a priest. After this ordination, he will serve as a deacon until his priestly ordination in 2017.

A native of Mexico, Fidel has been a welcome addition to our seminarian pool, especially as the Diocese of Shreveport experiences a rise in our number of Hispanic Catholics. Meeting their needs is key to helping them sustain their Catholic faith.

Raised the son of a farming family in Mexico, Fidel’s parents put great stock in their family’s Catholic faith, saying the Rosary together every night. Just making it to Mass was difficult for the family who owned no car, so together they would make the one hour trek to the nearest church, either on horse or on foot. Fidel would sit on the floor of the church, directly in front of the priest with the other children.

“Since I was a little child, I felt I wanted to be a priest, since I was 11 or 12 years old, before I finished my elementary school,” said Fidel. “When I went to Mass with my mom, I saw the priest celebrating the Mass and I said, ‘When I grow up and get older, I want to be a priest.’”

Fidel’s path to the priesthood has been a long and winding one. When he first approached the seminary at age 17, he realized he wasn’t prepared to leave home or his father’s farm yet. A year later he moved to the United States with his brother, where he worked in the Dallas area for nine years. At one point, Fidel thought his vocation might be to marriage and family, but after a retreat with the Piarist Fathers, he applied to pursue priesthood through their religious order and was accepted. Over the next two years, Fidel attended seminary in Miami, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The Piarist Fathers primarily worked in the classrooms teaching, a worthy vocation, but not one that spoke to Fidel. “When I was in the classrooms, I wanted to be a diocesan seminarian. I talked to my spiritual director… I said, Father, it is very good the work that you do, that you all do, but I want to be a diocesan priest.”

Despite wanting to return to his home diocese in Mexico, a priest from the Diocese of Dallas convinced Fidel that priests were needed in the United States to assist the growing Catholic Mexican population.

“Don’t be in the place that you want to be,” the priest told him, “You be in the place that the people need you.” The Diocese of Dallas supported Fidel for four years while he attended seminary in Mexico. After completing his fourth year, Dallas made many changes in their vocational program and decided to no longer support seminarians in other countries.

With the help of the seminary rector in Mexico, Fidel began to seek another diocese to join. They looked at several dioceses, but Fidel knew Fr. Rogelio Alcantara who teaches at the seminary and often visits the Diocese of Shreveport. Fr. Rogelio made introductions for Fidel with the Diocese of Shreveport. Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long traveled to visit the seminary in Mexico to meet Fidel. Together, and with permission from Bishop Duca, they agreed that Fidel would become a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport.

by Jessica Rinaudo

Relic from St. John Berchmans Coming to Cathedral

We invite you to celebrate a holy and monumental occasion, the 150th Anniversary of the Apparition and Miracle of St. John Berchmans.

On December 7, the holy heart of St. John Berchmans will make its journey from Belgium to Shreveport, Louisiana. In the 12 days that follow, we will celebrate with pilgrims from all over the world the life of this pure and holy saint.

To commemorate this event, join us December 8 – 18 for liturgies, guest speakers, opportunities for veneration, exhibit of relics and memorabilia and much more!

Look for more on this glorious event in our next issue, and visit: www.sjbdevotion.org