Monthly Archives: April 2013

New Principal for Our Lady of Fatima School

Sr. Carol Shively, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools, is pleased to announce the successful hiring of a new principal for Our Lady of Fatima School as Monroe native Dr. Carynn Wiggins will fill the role beginning July 1, 2013.  “We are blessed to have an individual with this talent level committed to serving the wonderful students and parents of Our Lady of Fatima School,” comments Sr. Carol.  “Everyone associated with the school is excited to welcome Dr. Wiggins and we look forward to her leadership in the coming school year.”

A Neville product, Dr. Wiggins received her undergraduate degrees in Early Childhood Education from ULM, before attending Louisiana Tech for her post graduate work and eventual Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.  The final eleven years of her career has been spent as the Director/Principal at A. E. Phillips Lab School in Ruston before retiring in May of last year.  She is thrilled at the prospect of ending her short retirement and taking the Principal’s position at Our Lady of Fatima.  “I’m ready to going back to being with children and excited at the opportunities for meaningful educational ministry.  There is a certain satisfaction to knowing that these young people will succeed because of what we can bring into their lives.”

Bishop Michael G. Duca is also excited about this positive addition to the diocesan school system.  “Our overall goal remains quality,” commented Bishop Duca.  “Our educational program at Our Lady of Fatima is unique and successful, and I feel more than confident that Dr. Wiggins will only increase our ability to positively affect the lives of young people and their families.”

Earth Day: Environmental Responsibility

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’  Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” – Genesis 1:28-30

In Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,”  he addressed many topics including our actions towards the environment and their effects on the entire planet. In a time when people worry about sustaining our planet for the future, what does the Catholic Church recommend?

What do Pope Benedict XVI and the USSCB say about the environment?

St. Paschal Church has initiated a “Go Green” Program to show a
greater respect for God’s creation.  Part of the program is a large
paper recycling bin on the church property. Here the Vacation Bible
School students collect paper to place in the recycling bin.

In 1991, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ concern over the future of our planet surfaced when they released their statement “Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching.” This document discussed treasuring God’s creation and looking at the value of the earth through a Catholic perspective: “A distinctively Catholic contribution to contemporary environmental awareness arises from our understanding of human beings as part of nature, although not limited to it. Catholics look to nature, in natural theology, for indications of God’s existence and purpose.”

In 1993, they established their Environmental Justice Program, which urges people to take action locally to ensure that environmental justice becomes a part of a Catholic’s every day life.

Pope Benedict XVI frequently advocates environmentally friendly issues. Over the years he has addressed this topic at world events, in books and in encyclicals. And for the 2010 World Peace Day, the environment will be his main focus. His theme for the January 1 celebration is “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Safeguard Creation.”

In “Caritas in Veritate,” Pope Benedict XVI emphasized sharing the earth’s resources equally: “The international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of nonrenewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future.” The Holy Father emphasized alternative forms of energy, reducing use of fossil fuels and changing mindsets to adopt a more conscientious way of life.

“What is needed is an effective shift in mentality which can lead to the adoption of new life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.”

The earth is a gift from God and it is our responsibility to protect it for future generations.

How can we, on a personal and local level, make positive changes towards improving the environment?

Our Lady of Fatima students clean up the school campus on Earth Day.

In his encyclical Pope Benedict said, “The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone.”

It’s tempting to think that recycling a few cans may not make much difference. But imagine if everyone felt the environment’s future was a personal responsibility and took actions to help preserve it. Soon a few cans translate to a few million cans.

The USCCB’s website shares examples of the ways people across the country have found to nurture their environment. For example, “Parishes in the Diocese of Portland, Maine, used parish lands and encouraged parishioners to use their yards to grow fresh produce that was donated to local soup kitchens. Each parish in the diocese received an educational kit including seeds and ideas for their use. The project was spearheaded by the diocesan Office of Social Justice and Peace. It was designed to help parishioners deepen their understanding of Catholic teaching on the environment and stewardship of the land,  as well as on charity and feeding the hungry.”

Other examples include sponsoring clean-ups, community gardening projects, planting trees, retreats and workshops that focus on linking the environment and social issues and making ecologically-friendly cleaning products.

For more ideas on improving your local environment, visit

Feature photo: (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Originally published in the September 2009 edition of the Catholic Connection.

Pope Francis’ Inauguration

Photo: Pope Francis receives his ring from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, during his inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis formally began his ministry as bishop of Rome and as pope by pledging to protect the Catholic Church, the dignity of each person and the beauty of creation, just like St. Joseph protected Mary and Jesus.

“To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope,” he told between 150,000 and 200,000 people gathered under sunny skies in St. Peter’s Square and the nearby streets.

With representatives of other Christian churches and communities, delegations from 132 countries, Jewish and Muslim leaders as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains present, Pope Francis preached the Gospel, but insisted the values it espouses are essentially human, “involving everyone.”

While the rites and rituals of the inauguration of his ministry as pope took place immediately before the Mass, the liturgy itself was a celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the universal church and “also the name day of my venerable predecessor,” Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger.

The retired pope was not present at the liturgy, but the crowds applauded enthusiastically when Pope Francis said, “We are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.”

The new pope stood at a lectern to read his homily, sticking to the text he had prepared in advance. At times his voice was extremely soft and other times it was quite loud; he punctuated with clenched fists his remarks about the strength required to be tender and compassionate to others.

“In the Gospels,” he said, “St. Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak, but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love.”

“We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis celebrates inaugural Mass in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring

The new pope said exercising the role of protector as St. Joseph did means doing so “discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”

The Gospels present St. Joseph as a husband to Mary, “at her side in good times and bad,” and as a father who watched over Jesus, worried about him and taught him a trade, the pope said.

St. Joseph responded to his call to be a protector “by being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply his own,” the pope said.

Fidelity to God’s word and God’s plan for individuals and for all of creation makes the difference, he said, calling on everyone to be sensitive and loving toward those in their care, especially toward children, the aged, the poor and the sick.

“In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it,” he said. “Be protectors of God’s gifts.”

When people fail to respect creation, when they ignore “God’s plan inscribed in nature,” or when they treat each other with disrespect, he said, “the way is opened to destruction, and hearts are hardened.”

“Tragically, in every period of history there are ‘Herods’ who plot death, wreak havoc and mar the countenance of men and women,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the government leaders present and all those with responsibility in the field of economics, politics and social life to stand firm when destruction and death threaten human dignity, human life and the environment. He met with the heads of the government delegations after the Mass.

Caring for others, he said in his homily, must begin with watching over one’s own heart, mind and actions, resisting “hatred, envy and pride” and emotions that can tear others down.

Pope Francis told the people he realized his new ministry included “a certain power,” but it is the same power Jesus conferred on St. Peter, which was the “power of service” seen in Jesus’ charge to St. Peter: “Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.”

“Let us never forget that authentic power is service and that the pope, too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the cross,” he said.

“He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” Pope Francis said.

“Only those who serve with love are able to protect,” he said.

by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Vatican Releases Papal Coat of Arms, Motto by English Doctor of Church

by Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ papal motto is based on the Gospel account of “The Call of St. Matthew,” the tax collector, in a homily given by St. Bede the Venerable. The pope decided to keep his episcopal motto and coat of arms for his pontificate with just a few minor adjustments in line with a papal emblem. For example, the blazon adds the bishop’s miter and the keys of St. Peter. The silver miter was something Pope Benedict XVI established in 2005, putting an end to the three-tiered tiara that, for centuries, had appeared at the top of each pope’s coat of arms. The simple, more modest miter has three gold stripes to mirror order, jurisdiction and magisterium, and a vertical gold band connects the three stripes in the middle to indicate their unity in the same person. The Holy See’s insignia of two crossed keys, which symbolize the powers Christ gave to the Apostle Peter and his successors, is on the new papal coat of arms and has been part of papal emblems for centuries. The papal emblem uses a gold key to represent the power in heaven and a silver key to indicate the spiritual authority of the papacy on earth. The red cord that unites the two keys alludes to the bond between the two powers.

Pope Explains How He Chose St. Francis of Assisi’s Name

by Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said that “as things got dangerous” in the conclave voting, he was sitting next to his “great friend,” Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes “who comforted me.” When the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went over the 77 votes needed to become pope, he said, Cardinal Hummes “hugged me, kissed me and said, ‘Don’t forget the poor.’” Pope Francis told thousands of journalists March 16 that he took to heart the words of his friend and chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation,” the same created world “with which we don’t have such a good relationship.” “How I would like a church that is poor and that is for the poor,” he told the more than 5,000 media representatives who came from around the world for the conclave and his election. The pope acknowledged how difficult it is for many media to cover the church as a spiritual, rather than a political institution, and he offered special thanks “to those who were able to observe and recount these events in the story of the church from the most correct perspective in which they must be read, that of faith.” The church, he said, “is the people of God, the holy people of God, because it is journeying toward an encounter with Jesus Christ.” No one can understand the church without understanding its spiritual purpose, he said. Thanking the reporters for all their hard work, Pope Francis also asked them to continue trying “to discover the true nature of the church and its journey through the world, with its virtues as well as its sins.” Communications, he said, requires study, preparation and a special attention “to truth, goodness and beauty,” which is something the church has in common with journalism.”

Sr. Marilyn Vassallo Returns to NY

For the past 15 years, Sr. Marilyn Vassallo, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondolet based just outside of Albany, NY, has served the Diocese of Shreveport in numerous ways. Her primary work has been as Director of Canonical Services, leading the Tribunal and helping those seeking annulments.

Through her ministry in this office, Sister has offered training for Tribunal Lay Advocates, which are now present in every deanery in the Diocese of Shreveport.

Additionally, Sr. Marilyn has served as the Coordinator of Religious, bringing together women and men of all religious orders serving north Louisiana to celebrate their commitment to their respective orders and showcase their jubilees. In addition to maintaining a database of their information, Sister has hosted a bi-annual conference for religious and their superiors to meet with Bishop Michael Duca, as well as facilitated a trip to see a historical religious exhibit in Dallas.

Sister Marilyn is well recognized throughout the diocese for her inspiring retreats and missions – both in our churches and at youth rallies. Most recently, Sister helped to lead two very successful Catholic Women’s Retreats – one at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Shreveport and another at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston. During the retreats she captured the hearts and minds of women of all ages as they learned more about the crucial roles of women in the Bible.

She has also served as a Spiritual Director for our permanent deacons and others in the diocese and taught classes both through Greco Institute and to our current diaconate classes on history of spirituality and methods, marriage preparation, annulments and spiritual formation.

Catholic school children have also enjoyed having Sr. Marilyn in the area, as she has served as a reliable judge at the Religion Scholars Bowl hosted at St. John Berchmans School annually.

After spending more than 19 years in the south, first in Birmingham and then in Shreveport, Sr. Marilyn has decided to move back home to Albany, NY where she will work as a Consultant for Canon Law Professionals and be near her motherhouse, also located just outside of Albany.

As Jill Braniff, Diocesan Finance Officer told the CSJ Newsline, “Sister Marilyn is a true advocate for the laity, especially for women. As a co-worker, she has been a great resource and educator through the more than 10 years we have worked together.”

“Sister Marilyn has made many friends during her 15 years in this diocese and will be sorely missed for her compassion and understanding, her spirituality, her laughter and often challenging discussions,” said Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness.

Before her departure, Sr. Marilyn said, “I leave with so much gratitude and love for the people and priests I have had the privilege to serve with.” She added that working in a small diocese has been one of the best parts of her religious life.

The Diocese of Shreveport Tribunal will continue to operate under Judicial Vicar Fr. Peter Mangum, while both Ann Goelden and Ricole Williams will keep operations moving as smoothly as they have in the past.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Pro-Life Oratory Contest

The National Right to Life is sponsoring its annual Pro-Life Oratory Contest. The competition is open to all high school juniors and seniors, who will address the issues of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia or fetal stem cell research in 5-7 minute oral presentations.

The local contest, now in its 24th year, will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Catholic Center,  located at 3500 Fairfield Avenue in Shreveport. The contest is open to the public at no charge. The local prizes are: First place – $150 cash, Second place – $100 cash, and Third place – $50 cash. The first place winner will then represent the Shreveport/ Bossier area at the state contest.

The state contest will be held in Baton Rouge. The state prizes are: First place- $500 cash and Second place- $250 cash. The state winner will then represent Louisiana at the national contest.

The national contest will be held in Arlington, VA at the National Right to Life Convention. The national prizes are: First place- $1,000; Second place- $750; Third place- $500; Fourth place- $250. The first place winner will present his or her speech at the National Right to Life Convention banquet.

For additional information and entry blanks, please contact Lacey or Vicki Wallace at 2319 Ashdown Drive, Bossier City, LA  71111 or at (318) 617-1502.

by Vicki Wallace

Encounter Youth Rally

On Saturday March 2, the Encounter Faith Youth Rally was held at the Catholic Center in Shreveport. Musical leader Aaron Thompson captivated his audience with his heartfelt praise and contagious spirit. His musicianship is truly a gift from God as he ministered to us with piano and guitar. It was exciting to see Aaron on stage in front of an audience of nearly 300. Not only was he a great speaker, but Aaron brought a sincere form of worship during the Mass with Bishop Michael Duca.

The breakout sessions were a high point of the day as well. Our own Superintendant of Catholics Schools, Sr. Carol Shively, OSU, addressed one of the most challenging struggles that our children face today: bullying and cyber bullying. Her sessions were specifically targeted to our middle school youth to help prepare them for the world of social media that exists all around them.

Fr. Mark Watson, Pastor of St. Patrick and Sacred Heart churches, reinforced one of our greatest treasures to the students: the Eucharist. Christ with us is always the answer to the obstacles we face in life. Father has a genuinely peaceful disposition that endears him to everyone he meets and he was a great blessing to our lineup.

We explored the scriptures that day with Fr. Joseph Ampatt, pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace Church. His extensive biblical studies and background brought a rich flavor to this session. Scripture study has long been recognized by the Church as essential to grow in Christ. St. Jerome told us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Works of Mercy were brought to us by Joseph Seyler, a Mental Health Advocacy Attorney with the heart of a Jesuit. Mr. Seyler spent eight years with the Jesuits in Grand Coteau, LA. Well educated in English, philosophy and law, Mr. Seyler shared his great experiences with us.

Our Church Vocations session was brought to us by Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long and Sr. Margaret Mitchell, Superior for the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows. Both are uniquely gifted and complemented each other throughout the day as they encouraged our young people to take the time and ask the question, “Is God calling you?”

Pablo Ortega delivered two great sessions, one in English and one in Spanish, to our youth. Not only is Pablo wonderful in his outreach, but his passion is infectious! His second presentation was filled to standing room only. I am ever so thankful for the work he did that day as I am proud of all who gave their time and participated.

None of this would have been possible without the vision and blessing of Bishop Michael Duca. I would like to graciously thank many others as well. The Knights of Columbus (Broadmoor Council No. 3407) provided lunch. I want to especially thank Aaron and all our speakers, our Hispanic Ministry, Blake Royal for his great technical expertise and assistance, all of the support staff from registration to hosting, to the Catholic Center Facilities staff who worked tirelessly to make this day work well. Thanks to all of our youth leaders, workers, chaperones and students that give so much to Christ and this diocese; a great blessing indeed! Thanks to St. Joseph Federal Credit Union for sponsorship, and all the others who brought Encounter Faith to life.

by John Vining, Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Mission Possible: Weekend Adventure Camp for Teen Boys Blends Outdoor Fun and Deep Spirituality

by Sam Alzheimer, Vianney Vocations

What gets young people engaged in the Church?  Is it a connection with other young Catholics?  Is it a deeper understanding of the faith? What exactly should we do at youth events? Fun stuff? Intensive Bible study?  Pizza? Eucharistic adoration?

These are questions youth ministers have asked themselves for decades. Most believe there has to be a balance of playful camaraderie and rich spiritual content for young people to encounter Christ and find their place in the Church.

To strike that balance, the diocese created Mission Possible, a weekend summer camp for teen boys. It involves heavy doses of outdoor fun with serious prayer, led by our seminarians and Fr. Matthew Long, the youngest priest in our diocese.

Patrick X, a 16-year-old who attended Mission Possible last year with his two brothers, summed up his experience succinctly: “Dude, camp was awesome!”

The draw for teen boys is obvious. One entire afternoon is spent on a high-elements rope course, including a 40-ft tall zip line that sends boys hurtling through the woods. Then there’s the giant “earth ball” used for rough-and-tumble, soccer-style tournaments. A 10,000 sq. foot wooden maze has teams of boys scrambling to find the pieces to solve a giant puzzle. Add in an oversized slip-n-slide and water balloon launchers that can send a balloon the length of a football field, and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a weekend of all-boy fun.
But the fun is only half the story. Mission Possible is also a boot camp for solid Catholic spirituality. Inspiring talks, solemn Masses and heartfelt rosaries are all part of the weekend. The aim is for boys to deepen their relationship with Christ and help them begin to answer the question, “What is God calling me to do with my life?”

Most parents recognize the need for spiritual training for their sons. As boys mature through adolescence they face serious moral challenges in society.  Many Catholic teens “check out” of the Church after receiving confirmation.  The exodus of college-aged Catholics is well-documented. Thus the high school years are a critical time; teens will either choose Christ or not, run toward the Church or run away from it. For parents who want to encourage their sons to make the Faith their own, Mission Possible is a good choice.

While the camp is sponsored by the Vocations Office, the purpose is not to usher teens right into seminary, said Fr. Matthew Long. “I just want to help young people encounter Christ, whether they’re called to priesthood or to build strong Catholic families in the future. If our young people draw close to Jesus, the priestly vocations will come in time.”

Mission Possible begins Friday afternoon, May 31, and ends on Sunday afternoon, June 2. While there were just 15 attendees at last year’s camp, the diocese is looking to triple that number this year. Plans are also afoot for a girls’ summer camp in 2014.

For more information and to register for Mission Possible, visit

Catholic Charities: Growing with Gabriel’s Closet and the Little Flower League

by Theresa Mormino

The Little Flower League makes St. Therese bracelets.

At Catholic Charities of Shreveport, we will celebrate our third anniversary this August and we are growing.

Gabriel’s Closet, our program to supply young mothers and their infants with the items they need, is adding an “annex” in the room adjacent to its current space where we’ll have more space for classes for our clients to learn infant and child care and safety, as well as fun classes like crochet to offer them a time of fellowship while they learn a new skill and create something for their little one. This newest room will also house a small maternity area with things just for mom, such as a TV so they can watch helpful and informative videos, and a small library.

Talk about growth! We can barely keep up with the demand for St. Therese bracelets, Director Jean Dresley’s special project that began as a small idea has exploded!  So to help keep up with the demand, we are beginning the “Little Flower League,” a group to work one day a week making the bracelets and keyrings. You can get them online now at They are available for a small donation that you can make online and we will mail them to you. All donations go immediately and directly back into our assistance programs.

We’ve been blessed for the past several weeks to have received publicity through The Times newspaper and KTBS, KSLA, KTLA and KMSS.  All four television stations interviewed members of our staff and some of our clients for stories on immigration and Gabriel’s Closet, and the newspaper printed a story on our programs. It has been a tremendous help to get the word out and allows many more people to learn about us. We have heard from many who wish to volunteer for various programs, those who wanted to give and receive St. Therese bracelets and clients who need our help.

While we grow, we are giving a lot more food from our small pantry to the hungry who come to us in food emergencies. Our pantry could use some help and we could use yours!  There are particular items that go quickly that we would love to restock including: canned tuna and chicken, canned chicken breasts, all types of soups, rice, all kinds of pasta, especially macaroni and spaghetti and all types of boxed dinners. Peanut butter and jelly are good staples to give our clients who have small children. Let us know if you’d like to help in any way. We’d be so glad to have you as part of our team that makes our work possible.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities