Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sacred Duty: Saints Show Church is Holy

A statue of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic devotion to the saints appears to be alive and well, and Pope Benedict XVI continues to proclaim new saints at a regular pace. The official calendar of saints’ feast days will grow in October when the pope canonizes seven men and women, including Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai and three laypeople: the Native American Kateri Tekakwitha, the Filipino Peter Calungsod and the German Anna Schaffer. The canonization Mass Oct. 21 will be one of the first big events of Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith, which is designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and to launch a strengthened commitment to the new evangelization. According to Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the appeal of the saints and their concrete examples of holiness give them “an undeniably positive role to play in this time of new evangelization,” since they are living proof that the church is holy. In a new book, currently available only in Italian, Cardinal Amato writes that it’s easy to understand how people can question the church’s holiness when they see the sinful behavior of some of its members. But the good, loving and charitable activities of other members are the best evidence that the church truly is the holy body of Christ, he says.

Majority of Catholics Share Religious Liberty Concerns

by Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A majority of Catholics say they share the U.S. bishops’ concerns about the federal contraceptive mandate and other government restrictions on religious liberty, and the percentage of Catholics who say they are satisfied with the bishops’ leadership has increased sharply in the past 10 years. Catholics who attend Mass more frequently are more likely to agree with bishops’ concerns on social issues, and those who attend less frequently show less support for their views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Those opinions, made public Aug. 1, were among the results in a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The survey showed that 64 percent of Catholics have heard about the bishops’ objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate. Among Catholics who are aware of the bishops’ concerns on this issue, 56 percent agree with the bishops and 36 percent disagree. In the American population at large, 41 percent agree with the bishops and 47 percent disagree. The survey results also gave high marks to Catholic leadership. Eighty-three percent of Catholics expressed satisfaction with women religious; 82 percent, with their own parish priests, 74 percent, with their diocesan bishop and the pope; and 70 percent, with U.S. bishops in general.

Pope prays for disaster victims in Philippines, China, Iran

Rescuers search for victims in the earthquake-stricken village of Varzaqan, near Ahar, Iran, Aug. 12. (CNS photo/Arash Khamooshi, ISNA via Reuters )

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics around the world to pray and offer material assistance to flood victims in the Philippines and China and to people affected by an earthquake in northwestern Iran. The natural disasters have caused death and injury and left thousands of people homeless, the pope said Aug. 12 after reciting the Angelus in the courtyard of the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo. “I ask you to join me in prayer for those who lost their lives and for all the people so harshly tried by such devastating calamities. May these brothers and sisters of ours not lack our solidarity and support,” the pope said. Flooding caused by days of torrential rains forced more than a quarter million people from their homes in parts of Manila and provinces surrounding the Philippine capital. The government said Aug. 7 that at least 50 percent of metropolitan Manila was under water, displacing an estimated 270,000 people. News reports Aug. 13 said more than 90 people had lost their lives and more rain was expected. In China, Typhoon Haikui brought heavy rains and flooding to Jiangxi province in the eastern part of the country. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. In Iran, two strong earthquakes struck Aug. 11, leaving at least 300 people dead and 2,000 injured. The quakes destroyed entire villages in the northwest. In his main Angelus address, Pope Benedict spoke about the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus tells the people, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

THEOLOGY ON TAP

Event for young adults to gather and learn more about the Catholic faith

Calling all young adults in the Diocese of Shreveport! A new season of Theology on Tap is quickly approaching. We have a fantastic lineup of speakers that will enlighten and enrich our faith as young adults. Christ says, “Where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.” For those who are not familiar with Theology on Tap, it is a program that revolves around spiritual development and enrichment of young adults, all while interacting in a social environment. Our gatherings take place at local restaurants during the evening hours. Below is our kick off event. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 13, 7:00 pm (El Chico – Madison Park): Topic: “Bible Light: More Fulfilling, Tastes Great!” Speaker: Brock Restovich. Brock is a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans and is blessed with the gift of spreading the Gospel and scriptural values to those around him.

Other Theology on Tap events will be held on September 21, October 11 and October 25. Watch for more details and speaker announcements in your church’s bulletin.

by Kevin Nolten

Summer Camp Keeps Education Fun

St. Catherine Summer Camp children enjoying an afternoon at Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport with Kechia Carter, Innervisions Summer Camp teacher, who is a Caddo Parish Schools Masters Level Teacher.

St. Catherine Community Center Summer Camp 2012 was a huge success. Such a success that more than half of the participants requested Summer Camp be extended for another week, which was granted.

During our Summer Camp children grades Pre K-4 through  8th spent half of the day concentrating on skill building to retain what they gained in academic skills during the school year while preparing for their next grade level for the upcoming school year.

Summer Camp participants also enjoyed Physical Education classes led by Bossier High School basket ball coach LeAndre Gipson. Additionally, children also participated in a dance class taught by Southern University Shreveport dance instructor Roshonda Spears.

Children also went on field trips, including a visit to two local museums: the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum and Norton Art Gallery.

Summer Camp children, staff and parents conducted and participated in a 4th of July celebration and parade around the Cedar grove Community led by the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Calvary.

On the final day of Summer Camp, teachers and students showcased their various talents in the “End of Summer Camp Program” with a dance program, music performance by the Pre-K through second grade choir conducted by Brenda Richardson, retired educator and a Shreveport church musician. Last but not least, 3rd graders through 8th graders gave poetry readings, jump rope performances, violin performance, and a drum and piano performance.  This led to a barbecue cook out and fun water day on slippery slides, portable swimming pools, water balloons and squirt guns.

by William Livigne, St. Catherine Community Center Coordinator

Year of Faith Speaker Series

Nick Wagner

Workshops for RCIA and Catechists on September 29

Everyone is invited to the first presentation for the Diocese of Shreveport’s  “Year of Faith Speaker Series” on Sept. 29 at 9:00 a.m.

In the morning there will be a presentation by Nick Wagner on The Catechism of the Catholic Church and how it forms Catholics in the faith and prepares them in ministry.

Nick Wagner is the director and founder of TeamRCIA.com. He has more than 25 years experience as a leader and trainer in liturgical and catechetical ministries. He is an active team member with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate.

Following the morning presentation, there will be lunch, included with the $10 registration fee.
Beginning at 1 pm, there will be two afternoon sessions. The first is an RCIA workshop presented by Nick Wagner. This workshop is for RCIA team members.

The second workshop is a Catechist Workshop for all Directors of Religious Education and Catechists. This workshop will be on the YouCat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, and presented by Shelly Bole, Director of the Office of Catechesis for the Diocese of Shreveport. Participants in this workshop should pre-order a copy of the YouCat.

Please use the form below to register for lunch and your afternoon session. Or, you can contact the Office of Worship to register at 318-868-4441 or drachal@dioshpt.org.

Seminarians Meet Up

0912seminarians

Pictured: Seminarians John Parker, Duane Trombetta, Jerry Daigle, Jr. and Keith Garvin stand with Fr. Matthew Long outside the Catholic Center.

Building the bonds of brotherhood

The beginning of the academic year for 2012-2013 has been an exciting one for the Vocations Office because we are sending new seminarians to both Notre Dame and St. Joseph Seminaries. In preparation for this year of formation our returning and new seminarians gathered at Fairview House to attend their First Seminarian Convocation. The Convocation was scheduled for August 12 and 13. The purpose of the convocation was to build the bonds of brotherhood between our seminarians and to assist them in forming a stronger connection with the diocese.  In order to accomplish these goals we gathered in the Holy Family Chapel, located at the Catholic Center, for the celebration of the Holy Mass and to pray the Divine Office numerous times. We also invited Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness, to give a conference on the History of the Diocese of Shreveport. Tiller’s goal was to show the seminarians that although we are only 25 years old as a diocese, the Catholic Church in our area has a rich tradition dating back to the earliest days of European discovery.  Bishop Duca and Fr. Price also joined the seminarians for meals and prayer when their schedules permitted them to do so.  There was time for the seminarians to get to know each other in less formal settings.  This was accomplished through a game night when the bishop, priests and seminarians matched wits.

One of the reasons that I decided to hold the convocation is because when you look at our record of attracting men to answer the Call of God, it is evident that we are accomplishing the goal. Over the years, however, many of the men we have sent to seminary to be formed have not been ordained. It is my hope that building community and strengthening the bonds our seminarians have with the diocese will help to lower our attrition rate. The way you can help is by sending cards and letters of support to our seminarians.  You can invite them to partake in your parish’s activities and a gift of any kind is always greatly appreciated by them. The journey to priesthood is not an easy one and it is filled with pitfalls because the enemy desires fewer priests, but when you know that you have the support, prayers and love of the people you hope to serve then it is a much easier journey to make. Please join me in assisting the next generation of priests to fulfill their vocation in life.

by Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Church Vocations

Catholic Charities: Home Cooling and Financial Education

Summer can be brutal and this one is no exception. Out of our concern for low-income families who struggle to pay seasonally high bills, we hosted a Home Cooling Shower where donors can give money to help people stay cool. The mail-in shower is getting great response from donors who understand the need to assist the less fortunate and keep families, especially those with small children and the elderly, as cool as possible during the fierce summer heat. We’re so grateful for the response as we continue to receive donations for this important project.

Our desire to facilitate long-term and permanent changes in the lives of low-income individuals, their families and their communities is the impetus for our newest program, The Money School.

This financial education program is our effort to break the cycle of generational poverty. It is a supportive and preventive program to assist people in recovering from financial crises enabling them to return to financial stability.

Those who come to us for Emergency Assistance will be required to take the classes before we will assist them financially a second time. These classes will provide services based on the premise that all people have the right to basic needs without having to compromise their physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual wellbeing. The Money School program provides information and skills that enable our clients to manage their financial resources wisely.

When clients complete the courses, financial education volunteer coaches will be available as advocates and advisors to help insure clients complete their work and stay on a path toward financial stability. When families achieve these important goals, it is life changing not just for the family, but has an important and long-lasting effect on the community as a whole. If you’d like information about becoming a financial coach please call us at 318-865-0200 and ask for Carl.

We are excited about two events in September!  On September 13 we will host “Miracles in Medicine,” a reception for our local medical community, at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport at 6:30 p.m.  We’re also planning an“Evening in Rome with Bishop Duca,” a fundraising dinner at Ristorante Giuseppe on September 21 at 6:30 p.m.  There will be excellent food and the Shreveport Opera Xpress will entertain. Table or individual reservations are available. Contact Theresa at Catholic Charities at 318-865-0200.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

Home visits: The Crux of the Mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

svdp_home

Photo: SVdP members Gale Dean and Cain Nguyen bring food and supplies to a family in need (photo by Jessica Rinaudo).

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

This is a story I thought I knew: the mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to serve the poor through food banks, pharmacies and home visits.

Over the course of preparing for this issue and talking to Vincentians, it became clear that the crux of what these volunteers do is visiting those in need at their homes.

Here’s how it works: those in need call a hotline and, depending on where the person lives, the caller is assigned to a SVdP group at a nearby Catholic church. The volunteers then take their assigned case file and go out to the person’s home to meet with them, talk, take care of emergency needs and help them get on the path to help themselves and their families.

To learn more, I wanted to go with some Vincentians on a home visit. I spoke to Gale Dean, head of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans SVdP council. She eagerly agreed that I should go with her.

In my mind, I saw us stopping by houses, saying hello, delivering some food and moving on. But what happened was far more emotional than I could have imagined.

Before we left, the three of us going to visit prayed together to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to assist those in need to the best of our abilities. Then we drove into the heart of a poor area in Shreveport.

When we pulled in the driveway there was a collective intake of breath from the three of us in the car. Outside sat a young mother with four children running through the driveway. She was alone. The house was small and in questionable condition. The mother, *Dana, invited us inside. We entered into a naked room with only a tv on a table and a mattress against the wall. Her kids, ages 5-10, gathered in around us. The five-year-old shyly told me her name and leapt into my arms for a hug. We gave them food and cleaning supplies and Gale asked the mother for her story.

Dana had come from a northern state to Louisiana for the promise of a job. Her friend told her she had one waiting for her in town, but upon arrival she found out the job had fallen through. She took all the savings she had and found her family a place to stay, a place in a bad area of town with no locks, no fridge and no food.

When asked about child support she whispered her boyfriend was “locked up” and she didn’t want him to know where she was living. He had abused her and her children and threatened their lives, finally getting busted for a drug run on which he had taken his two youngest children with him across state lines. I asked her how she had heard of St. Vincent de Paul and she told us her neighbor had referred her to the hotline. The same neighbor who had generously supplied her with a used refrigerator and was voluntarily scrubbing it in her driveway. “You don’t know how hard it is for me to ask for help,” she said in tears, “but I didn’t know what else to do.”
While the five-year-old proudly showed me her room, a small space with two air mattresses against the wall, a small TV and a plastic chair, Gale talked to Dana about enrolling her children in school. This was met with more tears and fears over obtaining school supplies and school uniforms.

I stood by helplessly as Gale counseled her on going to the Louisiana Work Force, places to call for more assistance, how to get access to food stamps and medicare for the children. She assured her we would bring more food next weekend and Dana humbly expressed her thanks.

Our next stop was at a low income housing complex. This time a mother holding a little girl my own daughter’s age opened the door and welcomed us inside. We were quickly greeted by another enthusiastic five-year-old girl, eager to tell us about starting kindergarten and her new school supplies. In this situation, the young, single mother had been laid off her job and her electricity was about to be cut off in the middle of the three-digit August temperatures. Fortunately, she had obtained another job and would be beginning in a week. She had her food and housing situation together as well, and her parents helped with the children. SVdP was able to pay the minimum to keep her power on by way of a pledge system with the electric company. When I asked her about where she heard about the Society, she told me she had been referred by a family member.

That was the second time that day someone in need had heard of the Society of SVdP through someone else who had been helped by them. It immediately brought to mind the scenes from the Gospels where the poor and diseased heard word that Jesus was coming and rushed to see him, knowing they could be helped.

The images of that day’s events have followed me since then. Afterwards I walked into my own home and was overwhelmed by how much I have, immensely thankful to God for all He has blessed my family with. More than ever, I am thankful for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the people who volunteer every day, every weekend on their days off, to meet with people and help them work to help themselves.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has almost no overhead costs. Their work is funded completely by donations and volunteers. Many of the SVdP food pantries are low right now. Please consider giving food, cleaning supplies or monetary donations to your church’s SVdP group by contacting your church office.

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul

0912svdp2

Pictured: Vincentians at the St. Joseph Church Food pantry in Shreveport.

Continually Serving the Poor in the Diocese of Shreveport

by Kelly Phelan Powell

In 1833, French physician, lawyer, author and professor Frédéric Ozanam was moved to establish an organization to help the destitute people living in the slums of Paris. This group of seven men, which Ozanam specified “should neither be a political party, nor a school, nor a brotherhood…but profoundly Catholic at the same time as being secular” aimed to serve the poor in the tradition of St. Vincent de Paul, whom they took as their patron. To Ozanam, it was of the utmost importance that this charity should be carried out with humility, discretion, tact and respect for a person’s dignity, for to him faith without charity had no meaning.

One hundred and seventy-nine years later, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul totals some 900,000 in 131 countries on five continents. In the U.S. alone, membership numbers more than 60,000. In 2010, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the U.S. performed more than 648,000 visits to people in their homes; served more than 14 million people in need; and provided more than $595 million in tangible and in-kind services.

Many of these extraordinary efforts are taking place right here in the Diocese of Shreveport, and that’s one reason Bishop Michael Duca has declared September the Month of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. In addition to recognizing the hard work and commitment of Society members (also called “Vincentians”), the month’s activities will raise awareness of the needs of the poor and educate the faithful about the history of the Society as well as its current mission and role in the Church as a lay vocation.

“It’s part of a national effort to raise awareness of what we do…and the needs of the poor right here in our diocese,” said Brian Burgess, president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for the Diocese of Shreveport. Burgess has been involved with the Society for about 12 years now, and this year, in addition to his duties as president, he’s in charge of organizing the Friends of the Poor Walk at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29 on Arthur Ray Teague Parkway in Bossier City.

The Friends of the Poor Walk began nationally in 2008 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The money raised by the walk funds a number of different aspects of the Society’s work, such as housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries and dining halls, clothing, transportation and utility costs, care for the elderly and medicine. All of the proceeds stay within the conference where the money is raised – in this case, the Diocese of Shreveport. Burgess said 50 to 70 walkers from about six different conferences participated in last year’s walk, which raised approximately $5,000. Those interested in walking can contact Burgess at baburgess@gmail.com or 318-780-7755.

The St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy provides free prescriptions for those in need.

Dotye Sue Stanford, the outgoing diocesan president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said the faithful in this diocese are particularly committed to the Vincentian order. With 23 conferences out of 39 churches, “we have the most conferences, percentage-wise, of any diocese in the United States,” she said. And all the conferences share resources so that collectively, they can make the biggest possible impact.

But having so many conferences within a single diocese means that in this area, the needs of the poor are immense. Every person, no matter what his or her financial circumstances may be, is able to contribute. Asked what the Society’s greatest needs are at this time, Burgess answered, “We need prayers, first of all. We need members and funds. This is a ministry that’s challenging, but it’s very rewarding.”

Burgess said the Society of St. Vincent de Paul focuses on its members’ spiritual growth, and one of the ways they accomplish that is through person-to-person visits with those in need. St. Vincent de Paul himself said, “It is our vocation…to set people’s hearts ablaze, to do what the Son of God did, to set it aflame with his love. It is not enough for me to love God if my neighbor does not love him. I must love my neighbor as the image of God and the object of his love…I must act in such a way that people love their Creator and each other in mutual charity for the love of God who loved them so much that he delivered up his own Son to death for them.”
However, home visits are not the only way to serve in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Burgess said. They need people to answer the hotline and work in the food pantries, as well as other duties. And the activities associated with the Month of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul need volunteers as well.

At 3 p.m. on Sept. 9 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston, Msgr. Earl Provenza will celebrate a special Mass on the Feast Day of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.

At 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 at Jesus the Good Shepherd Church in Monroe, there will be a Poor Man’s Supper benefitting the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy, the only free pharmacy north of Alexandria and east of Shreveport. It serves about 3600 patients in 22 parishes. For more information contact JoAnn Crone at 318-381-9670.

At 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 27, St. Joseph Church in Shreveport will celebrate the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul with a Mass and a potluck supper afterward in the Family Life Center.

The Friends of the Poor Walk raises money for local SVdp Counsels.

From 9 to 11 a.m. on Sept. 29 on Arthur Ray Teague Parkway in Bossier City, the Friends of the Poor Walk will take place. The walk will begin at the main pavilion next to the boat launch, just south of the Shreveport-Barksdale Bridge. For more information about donations, pledges and individual and corporate sponsorships, visit www.svdpfriendsofthepoorwalk.org.

Sept. 30 will be Society of St. Vincent de Paul Sunday at all parishes in the Diocese of Shreveport. Members will be on hand to accept donations, and all the money received will remain in the conference in which it is collected (if a parish does not have a conference, the money will go to the diocesan council).

While the tireless efforts of the Vincentians have achieved a great deal, the poor in our region still need so much. Together, we, the faithful can meet their needs if we continue to contribute generously of our prayers, our time and our resources.