Monthly Archives: August 2013

Catholic Sites in Our Own Backyard

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Picture: Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Natchitoches

by Kim Long and Jessica Rinaudo

While many people are fortunate to take pilgrimages or visit Catholic locations around the globe, it’s not always a feasible option for everyone. Fortunately, the northern half of Louisiana boasts a wealth of Catholic history and sites that you can travel to for low to no cost in a short amount of time. The history of Catholicism in north and central Louisiana is rich and abundant and days could be spent faithfully wandering through each of them. Here we take a look at a handful of these places and their Catholic significance and roots.

St. Matthew Church, Monroe, Louisiana

The Diocese of Shreveport has a rich Catholic history that spans across the entire geographic landscape of the diocese. Monroe is home to St. Matthew Catholic Church, which has ties back to 1851 when a plot of land on Wood Street in Monroe was donated by Grammont Filhol for the erection of a church. At the time priests ministered to a small group of Catholics there and donations for building the church came slowly. Dubbed “the mission of the Ouachita,” the church project was eventually taken over by Fr. Louis Gergaud in 1856 and dedicated on June 9, 1858. The building was finally completed in February 1861.

With the yellow fever epidemic in Shreveport, Fr. Gergaud left to aid those in the city in 1873 and the church was pastored by Fr. Ludovic Enaut, who was instrumental in adding on to the priest’s residence and helping fund St. Francis Hospital, which still serves those in the Monroe area today (see pg. 16).
The church was eventually moved from Wood Street to the corner of Jackson and  Grammont Streets where it resides today. The current St. Matthew Church building was dedicated by Bishop Van de Ven on December 27, 1905. This beautiful church continues to serve as a place of worship for many in the Monroe area.
St. Matthew Church is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest Catholic church in north Louisiana. To visit, call the church office at 318-323-8878, or attend a daily Mass. www.stmatthewofmonroe.com.

Holy Trinity Church, Shreveport, Louisiana

Stained glass windows at Holy Trinity Church depict priests who died in the yellow fever epidemic.

At the intersection of Fannin and Marshall in Shreveport is Holy Trinity Catholic Church, a beautiful, large red church built in 1856.

In the mid 1850’s Fr. J. Pierre, a priest serving in DeSoto Parish, visited Shreveport and recognized a need for serving the Catholic community in the area. Bishop A. M. Martin authorized Fr. Pierre to take up residence in Shreveport. By 1858, under Fr. Pierre, a brick building had replaced the original. Less than 10 years later, a yellow fever epidemic swept the city, claiming the life of Fr. Pierre and four others: Fr. Quemerais, Fr. LeBiler, Fr. Vezouet and Fr. Gergaud.

Fr. Joseph Gentille from Lake Providence succeeded Fr. Pierre and served for 22 years. It was he who made the plans for a new church. The cornerstone was laid a year after Fr. Gentille’s death.

The beauty of the Church is undeniable. The altar is Romanesque carved from Italian marble. The two side altars were originally in St. Vincent Academy. The church is home to 60 stained glass windows, including five dedicated to the priests who perished in the yellow fever epidemic. Sitting in the pews of Holy Trinity when the sun brings the colors of the stained glass windows to life as they splash over the white marble of the altar carved so long ago, one gets a sense of beauty many modern churches don’t have.

Weekday morning Mass is early, 7:25 a.m., to accommodate those early risers, many who work in the nearby downtown offices. Holy Trinity thanks the community each year in October with an outdoor Mass and an old fashioned street fair where there is lots of fun at no charge. This year mark your calendar for October 13 at 10:30.  www.holytrinity-shreveport.com.

Rock Chapel, Carmel, Louisiana


Driving down into the southern deanery of the Diocese of Shreveport, you will see signs for a little town with a rich history called Carmel. There, tucked away off the road, back into the woods, resides a small rock chapel steeped in Catholic joy and sorrow.

This chapel was conceived by the Carmelite Brothers to assist African Americans in DeSoto parish in the late 1800’s during a time of extreme racial tension in the South. Dubbed the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the small structure was built on monastery property in 1891, in what was then known as Bayou Pierre. The friars utilized the chapel to offer education to black children, and it was the first ever private school for black children in DeSoto parish. The success of this project spurred other stone chapels with similar missions to be built at Bayou Gloster and Cote d’ Afrique.

The friars also used the chapel for daily solitude, prayer and mediation and it later became a cemetery for the friars.

Despite outside racial pressures and sometimes violent actions from the surrounding community, the friars continued their ministry through 1897, until they departed the area.

In 1904 a fire destroyed the church, rectory, monastery and school in Carmel, and with it the sacramental records. The original rock chapel, however, still remains in a restored form and is a reminder of the history of the Carmelites in north Louisiana and their service to the poor African Americans in the late 1800’s.
Recently, local Catholic Scouts have done service projects to help maintain the small chapel, its grounds and the Stations of the Cross that reside there. To visit the small, beautiful chapel you must obtain a key to the gate before arriving. You can do so by contacting LaJuana at 318-872-3468.

Outdoor Altar, Chopin, Louisiana


Crossing into the Diocese of Alexandria, just past Natchitoches, near I-49 is an unexpected oasis. If you take the Chopin exit and make an immediate right hand turn you will be rewarded. Holy Rosary Chapel is on the left, and as you drive in past it at the top the hill, a scene unfolds that is as beautiful in its simplicity as it is powerful in its spirituality; a prayer garden that is unlike any I have seen before. Unobtrusive, it seems to rise up from the setting as though it grew there.
And while this outdoor altar and prayer garden might not have sprung from the ground literally, it definitely grew from the faith and vision of some nearby families. In 1985, under the pastorate of Fr. John Cunningham, the project to utilize the hill behind the chapel began to take shape and become the beautiful altar space it is today. Permission was granted to cut down some of the trees behind the altar in order to provide a clear view of the valley below. Upon completion in 1987, a Mass at sunrise was held there on Easter Sunday.

The outdoor altar is a place for peaceful meditation, prayer and Mass. The furnishings are made of concrete. There are tables and benches and even a sink to serve as a sacristy. Behind the altar is a large crucifix complete with a statue of the Blessed Mother keeping watch at the foot. The atmosphere is serene and looking out over the valley it is easy to believe your feet are not in Louisiana, but in another state with a higher elevation… perhaps making this oasis, this garden, a bit closer to heaven.

Leading to the Prayer Garden are tall white crosses where many people “make the stations” during the Lenten season. These crosses are 12 feet tall and seem to serve as sentries, supporting the many prayers offered by those who take the time to pray in their shadow.

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Natchitoches, Louisiana
In the city of Natchitoches lies a Louisiana treasure in the form of a minor basilica. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was designated a minor basilica on January 10, 2010. Only the second minor basilica in Louisiana (the other is St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans), this special church designation is not easily obtained. According to basilica rector Fr. Ryan Humphries, the church must meet a number of criteria to become a minor basilica. Some of those things include: the church must have historical value (in this case it was formerly a cathedral), must have a vibrant faith community and must be able to fulfill liturgical and adult education requirements after it is designated. Additionally many pages of paperwork must be completed and it’s best to have an advocate or two in Rome to help the church obtain its designation.

One of the many special things about a minor basilica is the ability to obtain an indulgence on certain days in connection with the church. At this particular basilica, there are four established days when you can go and obtain a plenary indulgence – January 5, the basilica’s anniversary; August 5, the feast day of the basilica’s sister church in Rome; December 8, the feast day of the church; and May 13, a special day assigned by the rector of the basilica. This aspect of the basilica makes it ideal for being included in a pilgrimage.

The church’s history dates back to the early 1700’s, but the present structure was completed in 1892. Over the years it has seen additions and restoration and was re-dedicated in 1996. Formerly the Cathedral for the Diocese of Natchitoches, it was made a regular parish again when the See City was moved to Alexandria.
Rich in historical value and situated in a town that draws thousands each year to its Christmas festivals, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception has many tourists. It is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and the Parish Gift Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. The Bishop Martin museum, across the street from the Basilica, is open by appointment only. www.minorbasilica.org

Radio Maria: Alexandria


Radio Maria was born as a parish radio in 1983 in the diocese of Milan, Italy. Its purpose was to keep parishioners informed and to help them through prayer by broadcasting daily Mass and the rosary. In 1987, the Radio Maria Association was formed by laymen and priests with hopes to give the station independence from the parish and broadcast on a larger scale. Within three years Radio Maria Italia was a National Broadcasting Station. Enter the World Family, established in 1988, to bring this medium to the rest of us! Currently Radio Maria operates in over 30 countries, spreading the Gospel to millions of listeners in more than a dozen languages. Radio Maria began broadcasting from its first English-speaking station on May 25, 2000 in Alexandria, Louisiana where its national American headquarters reside.

Entering the lobby of Radio Maria headquarters, a lovely statue of the Blessed Mother was the first thing I saw. I couldn’t help but think how calm and peaceful her face was. Moments later we were warmly greeted by Frank Hare, the Production Manager. The station’s chapel is a pint-sized room with just a few pews. He gave us a quick run down of the station whose call letters are perfect KJMJ (Jesus, Mary, Joseph). Then took us “behind the scenes” to a sound booth. We had a bird’s eye view of the opposite room where there was a live show being broadcast.

Radio Maria has a lot to offer listeners including a variety of programming, (100 percent listener funded) and Mass broadcast daily from different local parishes. Programming is a combination of local and national speakers. In addition to the radio, Radio Maria broadcasts are available via Internet and an app for smart phone users. Their website also offers an e-newsletter.

Visitors are welcome to attend the daily Masses at the station, as well as volunteer to help as needed. www.radiomaria.us

40 Days for Life

From September 25 through November 3, our community will be uniting with many others from coast to coast – and internationally – for a major simultaneous pro-life mobilization – the 40 Days for Life campaign. The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.

www.40daysforlifesb.com

Kickoff Rally
September 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Loyola’s Messmer Stadium
Opening prayer by Bishop Michael Duca and keynote address by Gail McWilliams, a national pro-life speaker whose blindness was caused by pregnancy and her decision for life has given her immeasurable vision (http://gailmcwilliams.com/)

Halfway Rally
October 12 (tentative)
Hope Medical Center at 210 Kings Hwy

Victory Celebration
(Candlelight Vigil)
November 4 at dusk
Hope Medical Center at 210 Kings Hwy

Pope Addressed Seminarians, Novices & Those Discerning

VATICAN CITY (VIS) – The joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer were the reference points in Christian mission proposed by Pope Francis to the young seminarians, novices and all those who participated in Mass celebrated on July 7 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery … in which foundations are laid for the future. … Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. … What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer,” said Pope Francis.

“Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. … Listen well: ‘evangelization is done on one’s knees.’ Always be men and women of prayer! Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook, a priest – is your job being a priest, being a sister? No. It is not a job, but rather something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!” he added.

“The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed by the number of persons, nor by the prestige of the institution, nor by the quantity of available resources. What counts is being permeated by the love of Christ, allowing oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.”

Pope Francis Announces Theme for 47th World Day of Peace

by Vatican Information Services

Vatican City (VIS) – “Fraternity, the foundation and pathway to peace”: this is the theme of the 47th World Day of Peace, the first during the pontificate of Pope Francis.

The World Day of Peace was an initiative of Pope Paul VI and it is celebrated on the first day of each year. The Message for the World Day of Peace is sent to particular churches and chancelleries all around the world, drawing attention to the essential value of peace and the need to work tirelessly in order to attain it.

As the theme of his first Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has chosen Fraternity. Since the beginning of his Petrine Ministry, the Pope has stressed the need to combat the “throwaway culture” and to promote instead a “culture of encounter,” in order to build a more just and peaceful world.

Fraternity is a dowry that every man and every woman brings with himself or herself as a human being, as a child of the one Father. In the face of the many tragedies that afflict the family of nations – poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, conflicts, migrations, pollution, inequalities, injustice, organized crime, fundamentalisms – fraternity is the foundation and the pathway to peace.

In a world that is constantly growing more interdependent, the good of fraternity is one that we cannot do without. It serves to defeat the spread of the globalization of indifference to which Pope Francis has frequently referred. The globalization of indifference must give way to a globalization of fraternity.
Fraternity should leave its mark on every aspect of life, including the economy, finance, civil society, politics, research, development, public and cultural institutions.

St. Vincent de Paul Month

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The Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Poor Man’s Supper and Silent Auction will be held on Thursday, September 26, at 6:00 p.m. in the Gymnasium at Jesus the Good Shepherd School in Monroe. This is the 14th year that the Society, together with Jesus the Good Shepherd School, St. Frederick High School and area churches, will volunteer to raise around $20,000 to be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy.

Since opening in April of 1999, the pharmacy has served 6,200 unduplicated patients in a 19-parish area, filling 183,000 prescriptions at a retail cost of $14,500,000. We fill 97% of all prescription requests to the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy. The Mission of the SVdP Pharmacy is to provide prescription medications free of charge to those who have no means of acquiring them. This channel of charity is a community-wide effort of all faiths, races and backgrounds.

Tickets for the Poor Man’s Supper are $10 and can be bought at the door or purchased early at the church offices. For more information call (318) 381-9670.
Additionally, the Society will sponsor their 6th annual Friends of the Poor Walk and Run on September 28 to benefit the needy and those living in poverty who are served by the Society. SVdP programs include food pantries, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, clothing, transportation and utility costs, thrift stores, home visits, care for the elderly, medicine and youth outreach.

The Conferences of the Diocese of Shreveport Council encourage all to participate in the Friends of the Poor® Walk locally – as walkers, pledgers, volunteers or all three. Those conferences which do not have either the facilities or support to conduct a walk within their parish are invited to join the Diocesan Council and St. Jude Conference for the Friends of the Poor® Walk/Run. All are welcome to join us Saturday, September 28, any time between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway in Bossier City. We will be starting from the main pavilion right next to the boat launch, just south of the Shreveport-Barksdale bridge. Any monies raised in the name of your parish will be given to the St. Vincent de Paul conference servicing the poor in your parish. Come on out, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and become a friend of the poor. Find out how good it feels to give.

Log on to www.fopwalk.com to give. Contact Brian for more information at 318-746-1299 or baburgess@gmail.com.

by Brian Burgess and Joann Crone

Early Christian Faith: “After the New Testament” Course to be Offered

Instructor Jim McGill

Contemporary Catholics might well imagine that we are living in an era of unprecedented conflict and controversy within the life of the Church. Scandalous behavior among the faithful, disputes among theologians, conflicts with the culture, abuses of the clergy, persecutions by authoritarian regimes and the like may seem to dominate our perspective. Surely such things are rare in Church history!  Our times must be unusually corrupt, confused and sinful.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. No era of Church history has been immune from such challenges. We may have been taught that there was a “golden age” when everyone agreed on everything and the beliefs and practices of the faith were upheld with near unanimity of support. However, even within the New Testament itself we see disagreement among the apostles of Jesus (Acts 15 and Galatians 2:11-14). And in the centuries immediately after the New Testament the voices of early Christians can seem at times more like a cacophony than a harmony. There are reports of Christians debating the two natures of Christ in barbershops and marketplaces the way they would sports or politics.

I will be teaching a course beginning in the fall in Shreveport on the first two centuries of Christianity called “After the New Testament.” Christianity during its earliest centuries was a remarkably diverse movement. These early Christian thinkers established the core of our faith: the collection of the books of the New Testament, the creation of the basic elements of the early creeds, the development of the liturgy and sacraments. And they did so in the midst of scandals, disputes, persecutions and controversy.

In this course we will survey the literature, history and theology of the period hearing first hand from those who were there what concerns held their attention and how they articulated a response.  A broad spectrum of issues emerges, including conversion of non-believers, persecution and martyrdom, apologetics both inside and outside the Church, development of church offices, liturgical practices, ethical norms and doctrinal beliefs.

This treasure of early Christianity needs to be rediscovered and explored by believers in the 21st century. In so doing the depth and diversity of the early Christian heritage will be reclaimed for the challenges facing the Church today.

Courses are once a month on Saturdays at the Catholic Center beginning September 21. Registration is required and may be done through Ginger by calling 318-868-4441.  Cost is $615 and financial assistance is available on as-need basis.

by Jim McGill

Catholic Charities: Reaching Out to New Mothers in Need

It’s not unusual for our volunteers to hear heart-wrenching stories week after week, especially those who so graciously give their love and time to Gabriel’s Closet, our shop for low-income new moms, their infants and small children. These dear women tend to the immediate and emergency needs of mostly young single mothers who often have nothing at all for their new baby. When we say nothing, we don’t just mean a pretty layette or a fancy crib, we mean no diapers, formula, bottles, clothing, furniture or car seat.

We also see young women who have not yet had their babies and this is an especially critical opportunity for the volunteers to be of even greater service. Recently, a young lady, “Larinda,” came for help and sat down with one of our dedicated volunteers. As she began to tell her story, the volunteer saw in this young woman’s face the fear and worry she was facing alone. Her family did not support her and had asked her to end the pregnancy.

“I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes,” said Larinda. “Everyone was telling me to get rid of my baby and there was so much pressure to do that. But something inside me just told me that this would be the worst mistake I could ever make. That it would be really wrong.”

The volunteer listened intently and, with a smile on her face she said, “Congratulations on your baby Larinda,” and gave her a big hug. The young woman told our volunteer she was the only person who had said that to her. In fact, all she got from her family and friends was discouragement and negative comments. Imagine being so alone at a time that should be filled with happy anticipation.

We always hope that life is celebrated, but we know often it is not. We are so grateful that Larinda decided to seek help from Gabriel’s Closet and Catholic Charities. She has peace of mind now knowing she has caring people who will lovingly support her and be there to help her through her journey. She will have the things she needs for the baby and will be able to learn and grow through our classes on infant safety, health and care taught by a volunteer retired OB nurse. Everything she needs to build a safe, happy life for herself and her little one is available to her through Catholic Charities of Shreveport. We celebrate Larinda, our dedicated volunteers and this newest member of our Gabriel’s Closet family.

by Theresa Mormino

A Century of Healing: St. Francis Medical Center

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Picture: Nurses and patients at St. Francis Medical Center in 1913.

In 1911, six Franciscan Sisters left their homes in Calais, France and selflessly set sail crossing the ocean at the request of Bishop Van de Ven of Alexandria, LA to open a hospital in Pineville.Upon their arrival in Pineville, they were greeted with the unfortunate news that funding for their hospital had fallen through. The seed!

Ever confident, Mother de Bethanie quickly contacted Fr. C. Mahe, a priest from Louisiana the Sisters met on the journey across the Atlantic. He urged them to go to Monroe where funding and land were available through the generosity of another priest, Fr. Ludovic Enaut. Father Enaut was satisfied that his dream was finally being realized. He wanted sisters “who would work for nothing (except for the Lord) and be interested in everything.” Within months the St. Francis Sanitarium and Training School was under construction. The seed was planted!

The St. Francis Sanitarium opened its doors earlier than planned, on July 14, to take care of a 10-year-old girl who was admitted with abdominal pains. She had arrived at the sanitarium after a 50 mile train ride and was diagnosed with appendicitis. The mission of this new Sanitarium, named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the Franciscan Sisters, would be to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to God’s people, especially those most in need. On the opening day, July 22, 1913, the St. Francis Sanitarium and School of Nursing had four patients, and by late September, 193 had been admitted. Mother de Bethanie wrote in her diary, “That the hospital be located in Monroe was God’s plan. Everything went so smoothly and fell right into place.”

The seed that was planted over 100 years ago in Monroe continues to be nourished and supported by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, and the over 10,000 team members who provide care through each of its hospitals serving 40 percent of the state’s population across Louisiana: St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales. As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel always and when necessary use words.” As you can see, through the foundation of one mission and the planting of one seed grew a healthcare ministry with one call… the call to serve!

by Saundra Nalley

New Seminarians!

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Photo: Seminarians left to right: Kevin Mues, John Bosco Nyirenda, John Parker, Jerry Daigle, Jr., Martin Aviles-Vazquez, Steven Griego, Keith Garvin, Duane Trombetta and Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long

It seems like only yesterday that I moved to Shreveport and began my assignment as Vocations Director. The reality is that I have been about this work of the Lord for over a year. This year has been one of many ups and downs, but more importantly it has been a year of learning for me. As with any new ministry, I can never be certain exactly what it will entail, but I had to be open to following the Spirit’s lead. Under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, this year has been extremely fruitful. It has been fruitful to me personally by affirming me in my vocation as a Priest.  It has been fruitful to me in strengthening my relationship with Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother. It has been fruitful to me in building up my hope that the future of the Church in North Louisiana is secure.

Click here to download a printable sheet of seminarians and their contact information.

The true fruit of this year has been an increase in the number of seminarians. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspiration of Mary Immaculate we have the largest number of seminarians in the history of our diocese. This is the result of prayer, of the work of priests and religious in our parishes, and the support of the people of God. We were able to maintain all of our seminarians from last year and add three new seminarians this year.  There is only one thing to be said to this, “Thank God” and “Thank you.” We thank God because He is the only one who can call more laborers into the harvest and we thank you the priests, religious and people of the diocese because of your untiring support and prayers for this important work. Although we have accomplished much, that does not mean the hard work is over, it means that it is only just beginning.

With an increase in seminarians comes an increase in the budget for the Office of Vocations. Great sacrifices were made by the entire Catholic Center staff so this could be accomplished and for that the seminarians and I are grateful. Now I ask you the people of the diocese, to continue your support of this important work.  I invite you to adopt a seminarian and pray for him. I encourage you to send our seminarians notes of encouragement and support.  I ask you to send them a gift of some kind to assist them as they prepare themselves to spend their lives in service to Christ and His Church (see pg 15 for their school addresses). I especially implore you to turn to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and ask her to continue to pour grace upon the work of vocations in our diocese.
“O Mary, conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”

by Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Vocations

Mission Possible: Young Catholic Men Gathered for Fun & Retreat

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Two boys, poised to sprint, stare at one another 40 yards apart. A giant, five-foot-tall canvas ball sits exactly midway between them. “On your mark, get set, GO!” Seconds later, they impact the ball with such force that they are both thrown to the ground – then scramble up and try to muscle the ball past one another, until one finally pushes the ball past the other’s goal line.

This scene played out dozens of times at the recent Mission Possible weekend for teenage boys. “Earthball,” as the rough-and-tumble game is known, was a huge hit among the 35 boys who attended. And it wasn’t even the most popular activity! By general agreement, that honor goes to the giant zip line, on which boys traveled at high speeds through a leafy corridor of woods near Dubach, Louisiana.

Seminarian Jerry Daigle, along with four other seminarians, helped to run the camp. His observation sums up the experience: “All the fun activities were important, but the most important part was gathering together in prayer to listen to the Lord. To me, that was the crux of the weekend.”
Fr. Matthew Long, Vocations Director, agreed. “The point of Mission Possible – and I really want parents to hear this – is that we’re trying to form men of God. Hopefully some will become priests, and others will go on to become good husbands and fathers. But first and foremost, we’re helping the boys understand what it means to strive for holiness.”

Each day began and ended with prayer, including Confession, Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours.

“I thought it went really well, especially the activities,” said seminarian John Parker. “They’re typical teenage boys – good guys who were a lot of fun to be with.”
For his part, Fr. Long said he was extremely happy that attendance doubled compared to last year’s retreat. “There was a great mix of boys, from public schools and Catholic schools, and I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In my opinion, it was a great success. I’m already looking forward to next year!”

by Sam Alzheimer, Vianney Vocations