Monthly Archives: January 2013

Be Like Good Samaritan, Help Those in Need, Pope Says

by Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a message for the 2013 World Day of the Sick, Pope Benedict XVI called on everyone to be a good Samaritan and concretely help those in need. Thanking those who care for the sick and elderly, the pope underlined the church’s fundamental role in “lovingly and generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick.” The World Day of the Sick is celebrated annually Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Pope Benedict expressed his affection for all those “undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering,” and he prayed that they remember they are not alone, marginalized, forgotten or useless. “You have been called by Christ and are his living and transparent image,” he said, quoting from a message delivered by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 “To the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering.” The Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan is just one of many accounts that show how Jesus expected his disciples to behave toward others, especially those in need, the pope said. Through prayer, people can draw strength from God’s infinite love in order to “live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or not we know them and however poor they may be,” Pope Benedict wrote.

Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty

by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

In this Year of Faith, the Catholic Bishops of the United States have called for a nationwide effort to advance a movement for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty through prayer, penance and sacrifice. Catholics across the nation are being encouraged to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.

This call to prayer is prompted by unprecedented challenges to the Church and the nation, particularly the HHS Mandate and current trends in government and culture toward redefining marriage.

The goal of this call to prayer is twofold: (1) to increase awareness of these challenges and (2) to build spiritual stamina and fortitude among the faithful so that we can be effective and joyful witnesses of faith, hope and charity and agents of the New Evangelization.

Beginning on the Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty has five components:

• Monthly Eucharistic Holy Hours in cathedrals and parishes
• Daily Rosary by families and individuals
• Special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses
• Fasting and abstinence from meat on Fridays
• A Fortnight for Freedom in June/July 2013

Join the movement!
Pray for our nation. Pray for life, marriage and religious liberty.

25 Years as a Priest: Fr. James Thekkemury

Fr. Thekkemury (photo by Joseph Guinigundo).

Father James was seven years old during the homily at his first communion where he was inspired to become a priest. It was constantly on his mind, in his heart and in all of his prayers. He had an active imagination and when other children in his village were playing, running and laughing, Fr. James would pretend he was a priest and act as though he were saying Mass and giving communion. His dream did come true.  Today he is a priest of the Roman Catholic Syro Malabar Diocese of Knajirapally, Kerala, India.

Fr. James was ordained a priest on December 28, 1987. As a priest, he served as an Associate Pastor for one year and as Pastor for 12 years in various Catholic parishes in Kerala, India. He taught 12 years in the accredited Diocesan Theological Studies Institute for the Religious and went on to work as the Program Director of one of the social service wings of the diocese, Peermade Development Society. As the Director of Diocesan Women’s Association, he worked many years as the Zonal Director of Pro –Life Movement.

Fr. James’ principle ministry since 2001 has been hospital ministry, serving as Manager of the Pastoral Care Department at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe.

A holy Mass of Thanksgiving in Syro Malabar Rite in honor of Fr. James Dominic Thekkemury’s 25th Anniversary of the priesthood was held on December 29 at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Monroe.

by Saundra Nalley

Rwandan Survivors to Speak at the Cathedral

Immaculee Ilibagiza and Fr. Ubald to share experiences and message of faith

Faith, hope and forgiveness, especially during the darkest times in life, will be the topics of an upcoming weekend of special events at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans from February 22-24, 2013.

Immaculėe Ilibagiza, survivor of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and best-selling author of Left to Tell and Our Lady of Kibeho, and Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga, of the Cyangugu Diocese in Rwanda, will be the featured speakers as they tell their stories of how prayer and forgiveness helped them survive during one of the most brutal genocides in recent history.

Immaculėe, a member of the Tutsi tribe, hid in a small bathroom for 91 days with seven other women as members of the rival Hutus massacred one million people throughout Rwanda, including the majority of her family. During her time in hiding, she prayed the rosary, read the Bible and asked God to show her how to forgive the killers. Her amazing story of survival and forgiveness is an inspiration to all.

Fr. Ubald has been a Roman Catholic priest for 25 years in Rwanda. During the 1994 genocide, he lost over 80 members of his family and over 45,000 of his parishioners were exterminated.  He travels around the world preaching healing, forgiveness and reconciliation and is an advisor to the Government of Rwanda as the country continues to rebuild after the devastation of the genocide.

The weekend retreat will begin on Friday, February 22, at 6:00 p.m. with a special “Meet and Greet” reception with Immaculėe.  She will begin her presentation at 6:30 p.m. and continue on Saturday, February 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Fr. Ubald will lead a Healing Prayer Service on Saturday, beginning at 2:00 p.m., followed by reconciliation prior to the Saturday Vigil Mass.  On Sunday, February 24, at 9:45 a.m., Fr. Ubald will speak on his “11 Points of Forgiveness” and his Center for the Secret of Peace as part of St. John’s Adult Faith Formation series.  A collection basket will be passed in support of Fr. Ubald’s Center for the Secret of Peace.

Tickets are $50 each for the Friday “Meet and Greet,” and $30 each for the Friday and Saturday retreat.  Fr. Ubald’s talk on Sunday is free to the public.  For more information, please call the Cathedral office at 221-5296 or visit the website at

by Lucy Medvec, Cathedral of St. John Berchmans

Encounter Youth Rally

Click here to download the flyer.

What’s “Encounter Faith?” Encounter is what we do as Catholics every time we take the Eucharist. Encounter is what happened when Christ met St. Paul on the Damascus road. Encounters with Christ are what change people’s lives. As 11 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away behold, the new has come.” (NAB) Encountering Christ changes people in a real metaphysical way. We don’t always see God touching the lives of others, but we know the effects immediately. That is what Encounter is always about. And Encounter Faith is an annual day-long retreat and rally designed to uplift the young people of our diocese with spiritual impact.

It is the Year of Faith and in keeping with that theme, I want to invite you to Encounter Faith. Catholic musician and speaker Aaron Thompson will be with us to deepen our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Please join me for this exciting experience of connecting with Christ.

Where? The Catholic Center, 3500 Fairfield Ave., Shreveport

When? Saturday March 2, 2013 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

How? Fill out the forms sent in your church’s registration packet to your Church or parish. Mail check, t-shirt orders and
forms to Office of Youth and Young Adult Office, 3500 Fairfield Ave. Shreveport, LA 71104 by Feb. 18, 2013.

Discount?   Yes! If you register your group before Feb. 18, the cost is only $15. T-Shirt order deadline is Feb. 18th as well.

What about? If preregistration is missed the cost is $20 per person. Additional students will be noted at the door and your
parish will be invoiced.

What ages?  Encounter Faith is for middle school and high school ages; specific tracts available for each age group.

Any food? Yes, continental breakfast provided from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. for free. Please bring at least $10 for lunch that will be
provided by the Knights of Columbus.

Questions? Please contact the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at 318-868-4441. We can provide additional e-mail packets to anyone. Non-Catholics are always welcome, we just ask you to let us know which church is bringing them. Mass
will be at 4:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to make an impact on our youth! You don’t want to miss this!

by John Vining, Director of Youth & Yong Adult Ministry

2012 Annual Report

Click to download and view diocesan financials and Auditor Reports.


2013 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

It seems that God sometimes provides the most surprising results to our efforts amid a time of challenge and need.  Such is the case with our 2012 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Campaign which finished with a record amount pledged ($1,322,220) and a record 98% collected on that pledge total ($1,295,665). “The generosity of the people of our diocese is simply amazing,” comments Bishop Michael G. Duca. “For them to respond to our Appeal in such a positive way is truly life-giving for the work of Christ in our area.  I can’t begin to promote this year’s Appeal effort without first thanking our giving donors who made our 2012 Appeal so successful.”

As we continue our stewardship journey in this historic Year of Faith, Appeal donors are encouraged to embrace this New Year with a re-commitment to the various Appeal programs and ministries that define who we are as Catholic Christians.  Despite the success of our most recent Appeal campaign, the jaw-dropping numbers listed above represent gifts from only 28 percent of the known Catholic families within our diocese.  Help your diocese improve our level of donor participation by encouraging others in your circle of influence to join you as a financial supporter of our Annual Appeal. “Making a gift is the key,” reminds Bishop Duca. “If we can get more of the faithful involved in becoming Appeal givers, then I know the Lord will grace us with an even greater capacity to provide for others.”

Appeal Sunday will take place across the diocese on February 10th and efforts are under way to offer every Catholic family in the diocese the opportunity to give to this year’s Appeal campaign.  Many familiar Appeal causes such as subsidies for our Retired and Infirm Priests, Charitable Outreach to the needy among us through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Catholic Charities, Appeal underwriting of the Catholic Connection and tuition assistance for Catholic Schools will remain in place, but some programs, such as our Seminarian Education/Vocations and Hispanic Ministry will require additional Appeal support due to dramatic increases relative to growth.

With five current seminarians in formation at two different institutions, the diocese is finally approaching another priestly ordination in May of 2014. “Things are progressing nicely thanks to God,” comments Director of Vocations Rev. Matthew Long.  “We hope to add to these numbers in the coming year and it gives me real comfort to know that our Appeal will be there for these men as it was for me during my time in seminary training.  Appeal generosity truly does make a big difference when it comes to recruiting and educating the future priests of our diocese.”  Ordination to the priesthood won’t be the only highlight of 2014, as 16 men in our current diaconate program will also seek ordination, in part because of Appeal support for our ongoing diaconate training program.

Hispanic Ministry within our diocese celebrated 25 years of active service to our region in 2012, and a new emphasis on Hispanic Youth has become a special concentration in this “Year of Faith,” as a full-time Hispanic Youth Coordinator has been added with help of Catholic Extension Society.  Director of Catholic Hispanic Ministry Rosalba Quiroz remains grateful for Appeal support.  “Appeal donations help us answer the growing needs of our Hispanic community and we are excited about our efforts to reach out to all ages among our Spanish speaking Catholics in North Louisiana. I am also pleased to see more members of our Hispanic Community becoming donors to our Annual Appeal.”

Because of your Appeal donation, Catholic college students in six universities throughout our diocese will benefit from campus ministry and outreach during a critical point in their maturation as adults.  Those who serve as youth leaders are provided Appeal supported training and education through our Youth Office which also offers opportunities for our Young Catholic Adults to gather for beneficial fellowship through programs such as “Theology on Tap.”

The newly formed Office of Catechesis will draw on Appeal funding in the coming year as our diocese seeks to provide faith formation to children, families, parents and adults. Beginning a fourth decade of existence, Greco Institute, now under the Office of Catechesis, will use Appeal funding to continue providing quality adult formation throughout the diocese. This spring, Appeal funding will allow Greco Institute courses to be taught free of charge in Bossier City, Monroe, West Monroe, Homer and Shreveport.

In this Year of Faith, our Appeal-subsidized Office of Worship is providing the leadership necessary for the people of our diocese to join Catholics around the globe in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This includes 2013’s Annual Liturgical Conference on March 16, 2013, which will focus on the progression of the liturgy in the wake of Vatican II.

Bishop Duca’s bi-annual Pro-Life Banquet was successfully celebrated on January 31st, due in part to Appeal support of Pro-Life Ministries dedicated to serving the least among us.  Add ongoing Appeal supported Continuing Clergy Education and a highly successful Safe Environment Program that has depended on Appeal funding since 2002, and you have another year of combined diocesan-wide dependence on the generosity of our area Catholics.

Becoming an Appeal donor is easy.  Simply use the 2013 Appeal pledge card found on page 22 of this issue, or take advantage the opportunity to make your Appeal pledge at your place of worship. The 10-month pledge plan makes supporting your Appeal simple and information provided on your 2013 Appeal pledge card will ensure your monthly pledge statements will arrive to your preferred address.  You can also give online by clicking here.

Eucharist: The Real Presence

by Rev. Matthew T. Long

Following the resurrection of the Lord, Christ appeared to and taught the apostles numerous times over a 40-day period. When it was time for him to return to the right hand of the Father, he commissioned the apostles to go out into the world and teach all he had taught them and he ended his teachings with these words “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).  This promise made by Christ was a promise not only to those gathered around him, but to all the faithful who would heed his teachings. As a result of this promise most people are aware of the many ways the Lord is present to us. We recognize his presence in the alien, the marginalized and the forgotten. We recognize his presence where two or more are gathered in his name. We recognize his presence in creation. We recognize his presence in the priest, in the Word proclaimed and in the assembly gathered at Mass. He is present to us in the love of a husband and wife, a parent and child and within the Christian Community. Christ is present to us in many other ways as well. The most important way he is present to us, however, is in the Eucharistic species, the bread and wine transformed into something extraordinary by the Word spoken and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s presence under this mode is unique. It is unique because, “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” St. Thomas Aquinas, STH III, 73, 3c. 

We usually refer to this presence as “Real.” This is not to in any way diminish the other ways Christ is made present to us. What this signifies is that under the Eucharistic species Christ is present in the fullest sense as both, God and man, he makes himself wholly and entirely present.  CCC 1374.

St. John Chrysostom gives an excellent explanation of how bread and wine are converted into the Body and Blood of the Lord.
“It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the thing offered.”

As is evident it is through the Word that ordinary bread and wine become something extraordinary. This same Word spoke the universe into being from nothing.  This same Word calmed the storm. This same Word redeemed and saved us by his saving work on Calvary. It is through the Word that Christ becomes really present to us under the Eucharistic species.
The Church has used the word ‘transubstantiation’ to define this changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord. The Council of Trent summarized it best when it stated, “that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.”  CCC 1736.

This means that although every one of our senses tells us it is bread and wine, it is truly the Body and Blood of the Lord. St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us it “cannot be apprehended by the senses but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.”   This divine authority comes from Christ’s own words spoken at the Last Supper and preserved by the Sacred Tradition in Sacred Scripture, “This is my body.” St. Cyril admonishes us, “Do not doubt whether it is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is truth, he cannot lie.”

Christ becomes present in the Eucharist at the moment of the consecration when the priest speaks the words that Christ spoke 2,000 years ago. This presence continues and is whole and entire under both species and in each part, in such a way that by breaking the bread or pouring the wine cannot divide Christ. CCC 1377.

We acknowledge the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist every time we enter a Church where the Eucharistic species is reserved in the tabernacle. We do this by genuflecting before we enter our pew or each time we pass before the tabernacle.  We also do it when we approach the altar of God to receive communion by making a simple bow.  We do this as well when we kneel during the consecration, after the Agnes Dei, and after receiving communion.  These are acts we often do not think about, but by doing them we acknowledge the real presence of God.

We are blessed in an amazing way as Catholics that the Lord we follow and serve makes himself truly and really present to us as we make this pilgrim journey upon earth. All of us can acknowledge our belief in the real presence and increase our faith in it by simply giving our time to the Lord. He is reserved in every one of our Churches signaled by the vigil lights burning throughout our diocese. The God of all creation is waiting patiently for us to come and spend a few moments with him. I urge all of you to make your way to church and spend a few minutes or hours praying before the tabernacle, acknowledging Christ’s real presence and at the same time bolstering your own faith as you draw ever nearer to the one who saves.

Documents of Vatican II: Christus Dominus

Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church

by Dianne Rachal

“Bishops, in the exercise of their teaching office, are to proclaim to humanity the gospel of Christ. This is one of their principal duties.”  CD 12

The preparatory commission on bishops prepared a draft entitled “Bishops and the Government of Dioceses” that was presented to the bishops of Vatican II for debate in November 1963. The bishops expressed their strong support for the principle of collegiality (the idea that the pope shares authority with his brother bishops). The draft document was completely rewritten with the new text adopting the principle of collegiality as its guiding theme. Christus Dominus was approved October 28, 1965, at the Council’s fourth session.

This is the outline for Christus Dominus:
Chapter One: The Bishops in Relation to the Universal Church
Chapter Two:  Bishops in Relation to Their Own Churches or Dioceses
Chapter Three:  Concerning the Cooperation of Bishops for the Common Good of a Number of Churches
Christus Dominus closely follows Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, concerning the traditional theology of the episcopate and apostolic succession: the pope and the other bishops take the place of the apostles, who were sent out by Christ the Lord.  Christus Dominus also notes the two “new” teachings of Lumen Gentium: the collegiality of bishops and the sacramentality of episcopal consecration.

Chapter One treats the universal and missionary responsibilities of the bishop.  A synod of bishops, selected from around the world, is one concrete way in which bishops can act together in caring for the universal Church. A reorganization of the Roman Curia was called for, with representation of the worldwide Church and consultation with lay people.

Chapter Two defines the diocese, or “particular church,” as the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church where Christ is truly present and active.” This model of church as the diocese led by the bishop is drawn from early Christianity. The bishop, following the model of Christ as prophet, priest and king, proclaims the Word, sanctifies the people and shepherds his flock.

Chapter Three considers an intermediate level between the local diocese and the universal Church. After briefly mentioning regional synods and councils, episcopal conferences are proposed as a way for bishops of a nation or region to collaborate.  Episcopal conferences are affirmed and general guidelines for their establishment are offered.

Since Vatican II, national conferences of bishops have become an important way for bishops to exercise their teaching ministry. The USCCB has issued successful documents on peace and on the economy.  Since 1998 episcopal conferences can issue doctrinal statements only if a document is 1) approved unanimously by the bishops of the conference or 2) approved by a two-thirds majority and subsequently approved by Rome.

“Bishops, sharing in the solicitude for all the churches, exercise this episcopal office of theirs, which they have received through episcopal consecration, in communion with and under the authority of the supreme pontiff.”  CD 3

Photo: U.S. bishops as they gather for their annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

Year of Faith Saint: St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was a passionate young woman with a heart for missionary work. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d’en Haut, then, drawn to the contemplative life, she became a novice there when she was 18 years old. She joined the Visitation nuns at the age of 19, but a few years later, convents were shut down during the French Revolution and Rose was forced to return to life as a lay woman for many years. Ten years later she was finally able to rejoin a convent, this time as a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

In 1818, she was sent to the Louisiana Territory as a missionary, facing illness, hardship and hunger to bring Catholicism to the Native Americans. She opened the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River, as well as the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She was known among the Pottowami Indians as the “Woman Who Prays Always.”

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops &