Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pope Presents Vatican II Messages for Laypeople

Pope Benedict XVI gives a message to Robert Prybyla (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the end of the Mass in St. Peter’s Square marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the start of the Year of Faith, the pope gave out texts of the special messages that Pope Paul VI had composed for seven categories of the faithful; Pope Benedict chose contemporary representatives of those groups to receive the messages Oct. 11. The symbolic gesture was meant not just to recall and commemorate an event, but to “enter more deeply into the spiritual movement, which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning,” the pope said in his homily. The seven messages, initially presented by Pope Paul on Dec. 8, 1965, address the concerns and responsibilities of: political leaders, scientists and cultural figures, artists, women, workers, the poor, sick and suffering and young people. Pope Benedict gave the “Message to Politicians” to some members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, including ambassadors to the Vatican from each continent. The message said that the only thing the Church asks of politicians is freedom — “the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love her God and serve him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life. Do not fear her.”

Catholic Leaders: Nobel Prize for Medicine a Triumph for Ethics

Kyoto University, Professor Shinya Yamanaka of Japan & John Gurdon of Britain in London.

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — Catholic leaders in Europe hailed the decision to give a Nobel Prize to two pioneers of adult stem-cell research as a triumph for ethics. A statement from the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, known as COMECE, said that awarding the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka represented an “important milestone” in recognizing the superior potential of adult stem-cell research over destructive experimentation on human embryonic stem cells. The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, an institute serving the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland, also described the award as an “achievement of great ethical significance.” Said David Jones, director of the Anscombe center in Oxford, England: “This technique offers hope of progress in stem-cell research without relying on the unethical destruction of human embryos. The past attempts to clone human embryos and the bizarre experiments to create mixed human-nonhuman embryos have delivered nothing. In contrast, the transformation of adult cells into stem cells is making great progress,” he continued. “This is science at its best: both beautiful and ethical.” The Nobel committee said England’s Gurdon and Yamanaka of Japan had “revolutionized” science through their work. “These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine,” the committee said.

Students Honored in D.C.

Catherine and Marie Marcalus at the BISEC reception with Dan Marcalus, Ross Nodurft and Kathy Brandon, Executive Director of STARBASE LA.

Photo: Catherine and Marie Marcalus at the BISEC reception with Dan Marcalus, Ross Nodurft and Kathy Brandon, Executive Director of STARBASE LA.

Who says science isn’t fun?  For St. John Berchmans School students and sisters Marie (8th grade) and Catherine (7th grade) Marcalus, their passion and outstanding abilities in science earned them the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to be honored by the Business and Industries STEM Education Coalition (BISEC).

Each year, BISEC honors young students from around the country at a reception during Aerospace Education Week. The reception highlights students “who are being inspired and encouraged to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology (STEM) through participation in experiential learning programs.”  Marie and Catherine were nominated by Kathy Brandon, Executive Director of STARBASE Louisiana, to represent STARBASE and Science Olympiad based on their past achievements.

The sisters joined 30 other students from various STEM extra-curricular initiatives to discuss their participation in STEM activities; specifically for them, their experience with STARBASE Louisiana and their success at the national level of Science Olympiad. The sisters have competed on St. John Berchmans School’s state championship teams for Science Olympiad, and last year placed 15th overall in the forestry event at the National Tournament.

Highlights of their trip included meeting Dr. John Fleming, U.S. Representative for Louisiana, along with a private Capitol tour.  At the BISEC reception, they visited with Ross Nodurft, Senator Mary Landrieu’s Military Liaison Assistant, and were interviewed by the Entertainment Industries Council for future public service announcements and a documentary promoting STEM education.  Their favorite part of the trip was touring the national monuments and visiting with students from other parts of the country.

After their whirlwind trip to Washington D.C., it was back to the books for Catherine and Marie. Both are currently preparing for the 2012-13 Science Olympiad season and working with other St. John’s students to defend their state title as the four-time reigning Science Olympiad state champions.

by Lucy Medvec, St. John Berchmans School

New Home for Family

Catholic sponsored home dedicated to family in need in Cedar Grove

Ms. Eura Dell Reliford cuts the ribbon to her new home, built by the Fuller Center of Northwest Louisiana while Lee Jeter and Bishop Duca assist.

On May 5, 2012 close to 100 volunteers began construction on a home to change lives in the Cedar Grove area. The new house, at 327 E. 72nd Street, continues the mission of building homes for working individuals living at or below the poverty level.

The Fuller Center for Housing of Northwest Louisiana dedicated this home on October 6. As the family gathered on the front porch for the dedication, Fr. Matthew Long, Vocations Director for the Diocese of Shreveport, led the invocation; Jean Dresley, Director of Catholic Charities of Shreveport, gave the family a blanket made by the residents of Holy Angels; Jerry Rowe presented the family with a Bible signed by the volunteer team, and a Fuller Center volunteer gave the family the key to their new home. Bishop Michael G. Duca blessed the home and spoke to the family and the witnesses who gathered there that day.

The family invited the community into their new house to admire the work the volunteers and Catholic Church have put into creating a safe and efficient home.

This will be the first Fuller Center home in the Cedar Grove  community in Shreveport and the first home sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport on land donated by the diocese and St. Catherine Community Center.

“These partnerships  transform communities. Everyone is working together to make these communities better and to give our citizens a hand up,” said Lee A. Jeter, Sr., Executive Director, Fuller Center for Housing of NWLA, Inc.

Ms. Eura Dell Reliford, the recipient of the home, addressed everyone before cutting the ribbon saying, “I just want to thank you all so much. I’ll remember this day until I’m in my grave.”

The Catholic Diocese of Shreveport and an anonymous partner sponsored this home. It is the beginning of replicating in the Cedar Grove community what Fuller Center has built in the Allendale community of Shreveport.

Ms. Reliford’s mortgage for her new home will be less than $400 per month with no interest. This will be the 45th Fuller Center home in North Louisiana.

by Lee Jeter, Fuller Center for Housing

Putting the “Catholic” in Catholic Education

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Students participated in world wide Eucharistic Holy Hour

On October 5, students at St. Joseph Catholic School participated in the Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour. Students were invited to participate and unite in prayer with the children of the world for a Holy Hour which included the World Mission Rosary, prayers, songs, and times of prayerful silence. Each class had the opportunity, throughout the day to take a moment to come before the Blessed Sacrament and reflect on the value of the family. This one hour ceremony and time of adoration and benediction coincided with the 10th annual remembrance celebration at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 10:14). Allowing students the opportunity to experience Jesus in the real presence through prayer and adoration is one of the many blessings that enrich a child’s education and formation in Catholic Schools. Educating our children might be our job, but educating children in the Catholic faith is our calling. When opportunities arise to educate our children in the faith, we jump to do God’s work. The importance of living our faith inside the classroom and out is a focal point within the halls of Catholic Schools.

by Kevin Nolten, Marketing and Development Director for St. Joseph Catholic School.

Serving the Poor

Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s annual walk & Sept. events raised funds to assist those in need

Members and the Catholic community embraced September as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul  (SVdP) month, spreading word about the works of the Society and raising funds to help their ongoing ministries to the poor.

One of the most successful events of the month was the 5th annual Friends of the Poor® Walk on September 29. The Walk is a nationwide event intended to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the nation’s poor and to raise funds for use in direct service to the poor. Msgr. Earl Provenza was on hand to say a prayer at the start of the walk at the Arthur Teague Parkway in Bossier City. Approximately 70 people joined in the Walk representing eight different SVdP Conferences from churches across Shreveport and Bossier City. Just over $5,000 was raised providing much needed funds for each conference. All funds raised will be used locally within each conference to help the poor pay for utilities, rent and to stock food pantries, among other services. This walk is an annual event. To get involved, talk to your church’s SVdP group.

In addition to the walk, other events during the Month of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul were well attended. During the Mass in Ruston for society founder St. Frederic Ozanam, many members of the new deacon class attended. Bishop Michael Duca went to St. Catherine’s SVdP food pantry in Shreveport to assist the volunteers and received local media attention for the organization.

The last weekend of the month was the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Day across the Diocese of Shreveport. “At St. Jude we talked before Mass and thanked people for their support and invited them to join us and we’ve already had responses for that,” said Brian Burgess, President of the diocesan SVdP Society. “The Cathedral had an invitation to service. Holy Trinity has had a couple of interested parties since then. I would say it was successful. We’ve had people step forward to ask about the Society and join us, so that was good.”

One of the oldest and most successful charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic lay organization of more than 690,000 men and women throughout the world who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually and offer person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 142 countries on six continents.

by Brian Burgess and Jessica Rinaudo

Youth Volleyball

The date was picked months ago… the nets were set. The anticipation for the day was tremendous. Would there be rain? Early morning October 6 I went outside to check the ground. No moisture, “this is going to be a good day,” I thought to myself. The weather was downright cold, the first cold snap of the season, but that wouldn’t stop the teams from coming. The Diocese was having a volleyball tournament, to the victor belong the spoils! At registration I saw the teams assembling. Roll call:

Christ the King Church: Cristo Rey and Angeles Latinos
St. Paschal Church: SPY 1 and SPY 2
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church: Beast Mode
Mary, Queen of Peace Church: The Blue Army
St. Ann Church: The Pew Warmers

We commenced with prayer. The music began to play and the whistles were blown. There was a great amount of excitement and energy all over the place, only briefly stopping for a quick meal. The teams battled themselves into a fury with only two teams left at the end of the day: Angeles Latinos and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Best of five and the action commenced. Our Lady of Perpetual Help jumped out ahead in game one. Angeles Latinos battled back in the second game with an early lead, but soon lost. Game three went to Our Lady. With great joy the parish in Farmerville took the day!

The teenagers were uplifting and pleasant. It was the kind of day I’ll probably remember when I’m old and gray. I would like to thank each and every team for coming out on a cold Saturday to enjoy great fellowship. Without the support of their priests and leaders, none of this would be possible. A special nod goes to our host, Mary, Queen of Peace Church whose members helped implement this event, and to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for providing shirts for the winner and an extra volleyball net, and to Fr. Ampatt and to the Knights of Columbus No. 4873 Bossier Council for providing the food, and last but never least, to the youth leaders who organized their teams. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

by John Vining, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

Catholic Charities

Miracles in Medicine, Evening in Rome events help integrate Catholic Charities into community

Catholic Charities of Shreveport enjoyed hosting two great events in September! The first was our Miracles and Medicine reception for the local medical community to introduce Catholic Charities and learn how we can work together for the good of our communities.

The evening began with comments from Bishop Michael Duca, Dr. John Valiulis, Fr. Charles Glorioso and Executive Director Jean Dresley who all shared the Catholic Charities story, after which, all enjoyed a great evening of food and fellowship. Our desire was to learn from and collaborate with doctors to find the best ways the local medical community and Catholic Charities can impact those whose lifestyles lead to unhealthy behaviors that affect overall health and wellness. We want to offer those in need the knowledge and assistance to dramatically change those long standing habits and ideas that keep them in poor health.

We ended the month with a memorable “Evening in Rome with Bishop Duca,” and what a great evening it was! Held at Ristorante Giuseppe, the crowd enjoyed visiting with each other before Bishop Duca gave his blessing and the delicious meal began. Setting off the evening and transporting us to Rome were the beautiful renderings by the Shreveport Opera Xpress singers. Arranged for by Board of Directors member Joe Kane, they strolled among the tables throughout the evening. The combination of the beautiful ambience, incredible food, great entertainment and convivial crowd made for an event that many were already requesting we repeat next year.

While both events were great opportunities to share ideas and enjoy the company of like-minded, caring people, the most important result was that our programs gained great financial support and, we are happy to say, Catholic Charities of Shreveport has been fortunate to make many new friends. That is always our goal and focus and through these two enjoyable events we did just that!  We are looking forward to renewing these events in 2013 and the great positive results we enjoyed. Thank you to all who attended these two special events.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

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America’s Native Americans Now Have a Saint to Call Their Own

by John Mark Willcox

ltar offerings of beans, corn and squash, with pitched chants joining the sound of beating drums blending with the aroma of burning sage, “hair of mother earth,” are familiar rituals for the Native American Catholics who live within our diocese. Now, these American Indian Tribes among our faithful, who trace their Catholic ancestry back for hundreds of years, finally have a Patron of their own after Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Sunday, October 21, 2012.

Like so many parables of the faith, the decision to welcome Kateri into sainthood helps bring the story of the Native American’s relationship to the Church full circle. Born in 1656, on the Southern bank of the Mohawk River, in what is now Auriesville, New York, Kateri entered this world a mere decade after four French Jesuits destined for sainthood were tortured and martyred by her tribe as the Church began to evangelize the new world. Kateri lost her Algonquin Christian mother and her warrior Mohawk father to smallpox prior to her fifth birthday, barely surviving the same epidemic herself but not without severe facial scarring and near blindness which earned her the Tekakwitha moniker “she who bumps into things.”

As a teenager Kateri befriended the Catholic missionaries traveling the St. Lawrence River area and she entered the Church despite protests from her clan. After her baptism, Kateri fled to Canada and lived a simple life of service to the sick and devotion through prayer before her death in 1680 at the age of 24. Led by the Jesuits, the Catholics of this new region of exploration saw almost immediate miraculous signs, as prayers for Kateri’s assistance were followed by unexplained healings and the miraculous legend of the “Lily of the Mohawks” begin to grow in influence and devotion.

Now, over 300 years later, a fourth saint has emerged from the Mohawk Valley’s sometimes violent history and this particular servant of the Lord stands not for martyrdom, but for peace, understanding and a desire to participate in the symbolic dance of friendship among Catholic Christians. This canonization begins a refreshing chapter to the turbulent history of Church relations with our brothers and sisters who represent the original inhabitants of the Americas.

Within our Diocese of Shreveport, the largest concentration of Native American Catholics occurs in our Southern Deanery within the civil parishes of Red River, Desoto and Sabine.  Most, but not all of our regional tribes include Caddo, Coushatta, Adais/Brushwood, Cherokee, Choctaw/Apache, Tunica and Creeks.

Within Sabine Parish along the southern border of our diocese, the Choctaw/Apache tribe has been active for decades, maintaining a tribal office near Zwolle and holding periodic gatherings and powwows. Members of this fascinating tribe are descended from the mission Indians of Texas, Apache slaves who were sold at auction in French and Spanish colonial era Natchitoches, and the hunting Choctaw tribe which migrated to the area in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

Current Choctaw/Apache Chief John W. Procell is grateful to finally count a Native American among the family of saints within the Church.
“There are many people within the Indian Nations who have worked so hard to see Blessed Kateri named as a saint. While I believe it should have happened earlier, this is such a welcome thing for our tribe and for Native Americans everywhere and I pray this will bring much needed attention to our tribal communities in this nation. As Chief, I visit many regional tribal gatherings and dances, and everyone I speak with in the Native American community is so very excited about Kateri’s sainthood. We have between three and four thousand people on our rolls, and the majority of those members are Catholic, so this is a really big deal to all of us and we truly feel that things will never be quite the same for us in a good way.”

Before we parted ways with Chief Procell, he presented me with a gift of sacred tobacco and the feather of a Blue Heron in thanksgiving for the Catholic Connection showing interest in the Native American Catholic community.

St. John the Baptist parishioner Yvonne Busby served as tribal secretary for many years and remembers researching catechetical material and discovering the story of Kateri Tekawitha.

“I had never heard of her until that moment,” comments Mrs. Busby.  “I found her story to be such a perfect fit with our Native American culture where I grew up as a Sepulvado within St. Ann Church in Ebarb. After that discovery, we all really took Kateri to heart both within my own family and our entire congregation.  When John Paul II beatified her in 1980, I thought that the Church was getting serious about her cause and that we might actually see her finally named a saint, and now it has actually happened!”

Below the Southern civil parishes of our diocese, within our mother Diocese of Alexandria, nine various Native American tribes can be found and Bishop Ronald Herzog has announced that the Alexandria Diocese will host the National Conference of Native Peoples and Personnel in 2015.

“I serve on the Bishop’s Sub Committee for Native American Catholics,” commented Bishop Herzog, and I thought bringing this conference to central Louisiana would be a great way to celebrate Saint Kateri and the various tribes of Catholic Native Americans in this entire area.”
Despite the climatic event of Kateri’s canonization last month in Rome, area Catholics will have plenty to celebrate in the coming months as Native Americans will descend on central Louisiana in less than two years to gather, dance, pray and celebrate all the wonderful things that our Indian sisters and brothers bring to our united faith community from the four winds and the four sacred corners of mother earth.

Eucharist: Sacrament of Thanksgiving

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by Marie Rinaudo

Recently I came across an announcement for a seminar that listed several churches in the community, each identified by a key practice or doctrine. I was impressed that the Eucharist was listed as the distinguishing mark of Roman Catholicism. At the same time, however, I considered the challenges that this profound sacrament presents.  How to understand the Mystery?  How to share this understanding with others?  During the next 12 months, the Church is offering us a way to tackle the tough questions. This Year of Faith invites us to study our teachings, to share our beliefs, and “to turn towards Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist” (USCCB).

As Catholics we have a wealth of information on the Eucharist; theologians, scholars, and doctors of the church guide us in grasping the Mystery of the Eucharist. The explanations given in The Catechism and in the Vatican II document on the Sacred Liturgy thoroughly present the complexity of the sacrament: a sacrifice, a communal meal, a memorial, and an act of thanksgiving.  While the Catechism addresses all of the terms, it gives distinction to the sacrament as a liturgy of thanksgiving: “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification.  Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving’ ” (CCC, 1360).

In other writings, we also learn that the liturgy as thanksgiving may have its roots in ancient history. It has been suggested that the Jewish todah, a sacrificial meal in which the Israelites voiced their gratitude to God for his many blessings, may be “the ‘liturgical’ ancestor of the Mass” (Hahn, 32). A later work, The Didache, which contains the teachings of the apostles, has been described as providing  prayers of gratitude “that led up to the Eucharist.” (Loret, 31).

While these reminders that the Eucharist is a prayer of thanksgiving for a freely given gift are enlightening, perhaps nowhere are we better able to appreciate this sacred mystery than in the liturgy itself. As we follow the words and actions of the Eucharistic prayer, we go beyond philosophy and history, and through our active participation, experience an encounter with Jesus that is deep and intimate.  Beginning with the dialogue that introduces the Eucharistic prayer, we approach the celebration in a spirit of praise and gratitude:

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
It is right and just.

Following the dialogue is the consecration, “the heart and summit of the celebration” (CCC, 1352).  As we offer the gifts, we recognize the “superabundance of this unique bread” (CCC, 1335) and are compelled to give thanks to God for sending His Son to pay for our redemption and for giving us the gifts of creation that make bread and wine possible:  seeds, earth, water, and light. As the priest makes the offering,  we recall events in Jesus’s ministry when he provided for those in need:  the feeding of the multitudes with the loaves and the provision of the wine at Cana (CCC,1335).  As it was right and just to give thanks then, so it still is today.

We then pray for the Holy Spirit to unify all those present as well as those who have died, our friends and family, the saints and the martyrs.  Transformed by the sacrament, we are able to see Christ in each other. We who have offered the sacrifice now receive it. Contemporary theologians have focused on this act of giving and receiving. Kevin Irwin, in Models of the Eucharist, contends that the act of taking the Eucharist is always an act of giving and receiving (192). Robert Barron in Eucharist affirms that “The Mass is the richest possible expression of the loop of grace, God’s life possessed in the measure that it is given away. . . .(56).  Coming forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we assume a posture of Thanksgiving.  St. Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the fourth century,  gave instructions for our approach:  “Make your hand a throne for Christ as though you were receiving a king.  Having hollowed your palm, receiving the Body of Christ, say over it, ‘Amen.’” In  one word, we pronounce our gratitude and assent to this profound act.

It is appropriate during this time of national thanksgiving that we reflect on the spirituality of gratitude. The Mass for Thanksgiving Day gives us the occasion to fully express gratefulness to our Father for our many blessings. In the Collect, we prepare for the sacred liturgy: Father, all-powerful. . . As we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman and child.

In the Prayer over the offerings, we say together: God our Father, from whose hand we have received generous gifts So that we might learn to share your blessings in gratitude, Accept these gifts of bread and wine.

In the Communion prayers the sense of gratitude is intense: I thank you Lord with all my heart, For you have heard the words of my mouth. OR How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? The chalice of salvation I will raise and I will call on the name of the Lord.

The theme of thanksgiving thus continues throughout the Eucharistic prayer.  By taking an active role in the Mass, we may arrive at a mature gratitude for Christ’s selfless act of love.

Sources:  Barron, Robert.  Eucharist.  New York:  Orbis Books,  2008; Catechism of the Catholic Church; Hahn, Scott. The Lamb’s Supper.  New York:  Doubleday, 1999; Irwin, Kevin, W. Models of the Eucharist.  New York:  Paulist Press,  2005; Loret, Pierre, C.SS.R.  The Story of the Mass: From the Last Supper to the Present Day.  Eugene, Oregon:  Wipf and Stock Publishers , 2002.