Monthly Archives: October 2013

Christ the King: The Light at the End of the Liturgical Year

by Kim Long

In the movie Saving Grace, the pope, played by a young Tom Conti, greets the crowd of faithful pilgrims on a bright Easter morning with the words, “I want to tell you a story, because it’s a good story.” And so it is with each of us and our own stories.

I came to Catholicism in part through the novels of the late priest and author Andrew M. Greeley, which to me served as a fictional vehicle for theological truth. In his early novels a particular family, the Ryans, served as a prototype for the Church. Through these stories I was introduced to the people and their parishes, which were also characters. One in particular grabbed me – “Christ the King.”

In this fictional parish, the ebb and flow of life was lived out. As a convert I had not really thought of Christ as a king, even though as Baptists we had belted out many hymns which spoke of Jesus in just this way.

Years later I had the opportunity to attend a Kol Nidre service at a local Jewish synagouge. A Jewish friend knew of my love for God, history and all things religious and told me the music was beautiful, the prayers powerful  and she thought I would enjoy it. Before attending I asked her the meaning of the service. She said, “All year long God is our friend, our partner. Tonight he is our King.”

That night God and I began to travel down a path of serious and lengthy meditation on our liturgical year. Over the course of many years I have thought of that night and my friend’s statement and our own Catholic year. As dear Fr. Greeley might have put it, God hit me over the head with a cosmic baseball bat. I began to see what others before me had seen; that this beautiful feast is more than a resting place before Advent and the inevitable bustle of Christmas. It is a chance to see where we have come from, how we have learned and where we need to continue. It is maturation and renewal, rest and refreshment at the feet of love abounding. It is remembering that Christ is King; King of our hearts, King of our lives, King of the universe. It is remembering that “the greatest of these is love.”

So I did some research.

The feast of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe, which falls on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, is a relatively new feast in our tradition. It comes to us from Pope Pius XI who served the faithful between the two great wars of the 20th century. I know very little about the men who became our popes. I knew nothing about Pope Pius XI but as I read about his life and the document Quas Primas, I got to glimpse through a window into our history.

Imagine, if you will, a year in which earthquakes and tornados leave thousands dead and injured, world leaders set themselves up as dictators rather than guiding those citizens in their care, and a book is written and published by an author who will forever change the world. And then there is one Achile Ratti, known by the faithful as Pope Pius XI. With definite ideas of his own – he earned three doctorates, philosophy, theology, and canon law – there was more to him than a glance can reveal. An athlete who climbed mountains, he reached the summits of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa to name just two. This was not a leader who lived in his head and retreated from the rest of the word. Reportedly when Hitler came to Italy to visit Mussolini, Pius XI left earlier than normal for his summer home intending this as a snub towards men whose policies he felt were directly against Christ’s teachings. Not exactly a lightweight. So in December 1925 when he wrote Quas Primas he had things to say.

As writings of the Holy Fathers go it’s an easy read, only about 10 or 11 pages in length. I was amazed that it wasn’t written in our current time, it’s that relevant and timeless. It was written to speak to secularism, a way of life that leaves God out of our thinking and living and organizes humanity’s lives as if God doesn’t exist. Pius XI wanted to help the faithful regain the sense of respect for Christ. Just as the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist had waned, so it was with this feast. Respect and love for Christ needed to be paramount in the minds of the Church again: “That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, our minds, our wills, and our bodies.” Quas Primas 32

Pope Paul VI stated in Mysterii Paschalis, “the whole mystery of Christ unfolds within the cycle of a year.” Again from Paul VI, “The Paschal Mystery and its celebration constitutes the essence of Christian worship in its daily, weekly and yearly unfolding. The Second Vatican Council clearly teaches this.”
In its current position as the last Sunday of the Church year, the Feast of Christ the King  is poised to bring us into a fuller understanding of what we have journeyed toward as we began the previous Advent. We began during Advent, being pregnant with the love of God, birthing that love during Christmas, growing with it, dying and rising with it through the year. Now we bring our experiences, the Masses we have been part of, every offering, every hurt, joy, sadness, guilt, every birth we have celebrated, every loss we have mourned, every hour of our awareness, we bring to this Feast of Christ our King. It is the culmination, maturation of another year of growth, relationship with our God, our Church and ourselves, realizing that God and His love for us permeates all.
Does that mean we always “get it right,” that we never forget that Christ is King? Probably not. For me this feast is a powerful reminder of Christ’s kingship. The colors of gold and white, the readings, the music and the prayers call me to cast aside the user friendly God that I have probably made in my own image and open myself up to the immensity, the beauty, the love of God who created all and cares for all, truly a King.

So as our liturgical year winds down and the department stores court us with Christmas carols in October, be strong and resist being swept away prematurely. Be in the moment, be present, and celebrate this feast given to us by God, which Pope Pius XI so gently reminded us of in the turmoil of 1925, and remember that in the midst of the messiness of life Christ is King.

This year the readings for the Feast of Christ the King are from Cycle C. The psalm response serves as an invitation of the sweetest kind, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.” May we each arrive rejoicing at the celebration of this feast.

Quas Primas by Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI wrote the document Quas Primas in1925. In it the Feast of Christ the King was established to help regain a sense of respect for Christ. The encyclical includes many reasons to establish the Feast of Christ the King, including:

Christ is said to reign in the hearts and will of men in intellect, truth, grace and inspiration. QP 7

He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.” QP 7

We read throughout the scriptures that Christ is King, both in the Old and New Testaments. QP 8 – 10

Christ speaks on his own kingly authority in his reply to the Roman magistrate, who asked him publicly whether he were a king or not; after his resurrection, when giving to his Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing all nations, he took the opportunity to call himself king, confirming the title publicly, and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given him in heaven and on earth. – QP 11

“…the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings.” – QP 12

Francis Convenes Extraordinary Synod on the Family for October 2014

by Vatican Information Services

Vatican City – The Holy See Press Office announced that Holy Father Francis has convened the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in the Vatican from 5 to 19 October 2014, on the theme “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

In the Chapter of the Code of Canon Law relating to synodal assemblies, the Synod of Bishops meets in an extraordinary general assembly when the matter under consideration, while related to the good of the universal Church, requires rapid definition.

“It is very important that an extraordinary Synod has been convoked on the theme of the pastoral of the family,” said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. “This is the way in which the Pope intends to promote reflection and to guide the path of the community of the Church, with the responsible participation of the episcopate from different parts of the world.”

“It is right,” he added, “that the Church should move as a community in reflection and prayer, and that she takes common pastoral directions in relation to the most important points – such as the pastoral of the family – under the guidance of the pope and the bishops. The convocation of the extraordinary Synod clearly indicates this path. In this context, the proposal of particular pastoral solutions by local persons or offices carries the risk of engendering confusion. It is opportune to emphasise the importance of following a path in full communion with the ecclesial community.”

Fr. Lombardi mentioned that Pope Francis attended the meeting of the Secretariat of the Synod, taking place during these days in Via della Conciliazione.

New Bishop for Houma-Thibodaux Diocese

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of New Orleans to lead southern Louisiana diocese

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Sam G. Jacobs of Houma-Thibodaux and named Auxiliary Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of New Orleans to succeed him. The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington, Sept. 23, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Fabre, who was ordained Titular Bishop of Pudenziana and Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans, at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans in February 2007, was installed as the fourth Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux Wednesday, October 30, at 2:00 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Francis de Sales in Houma.

Bishop Jacobs says he is grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Bishop Fabre as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.
“I have personally known him since his ordination as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I believe that he is the right person at this time of the life of this great diocese,” said retiring Bishop Jacobs.

As required by Canon Law, Bishop Jacobs tendered his resignation on his 75th birthday in March of this year. He was born March 4, 1938, in Greenwood, MS, and was reared in Lake Charles, LA. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lafayette in 1964, and was ordained to the episcopacy and became the 10th Bishop of Alexandria in 1989. He was installed as the Third Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux in 2003.

“I am grateful to God for my 10 years as shepherd of this diocese. I have been blessed in many ways by the ministry and cooperation of the priests, deacons, religious and laity. At this point in my lifetime I know it is time for me to pass the torch of administration and embrace more fully the priestly ministry I was ordained for. My plans are to live in Houma and continue to serve the Church until the Lord calls me to him,” adds Bishop Jacobs.

At a press conference at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Schriever, Sept. 23, Bishop Fabre said, “I am humbled and excited by this appointment by the Holy Father, and I pledge to serve the needs of the Church here in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux to the very best of my ability. In all that we do, it is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we praise and serve, and I am confident that together we will grow in faith. … I look forward to making the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux my new home, and I rejoice in the opportunity to become a part of this local Church and this unique area of our state of Louisiana. … At this point in the history of this wonderful diocese, let us renew our trust in the Lord and again pledge to serve him by serving one another. In God we place our hope and our trust, and we can be confident that God will never leave us to endure anything alone. I look forward to this faith journey with all of you. As I pledge my prayers for all in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, I ask your prayers for me as well.”

“Comfort my people” from Chapter 40, Verse 1 of the Book of Isaiah is Bishop Fabres episcopal motto, which he intends to keep. He says, “I chose that because I think there are many, many ways to give comfort. Life can hurt a lot sometimes and I think that is one of the roles of the Church – to comfort people not only by speaking the truth, but speaking the truth in love. That phrase has always spoken to me on many, many levels. I just love it.”

by Janet Marcel, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux

Mary of Nazareth Movie Coming to Diocese

Ignatius Press and the Diocese of Shreveport are happy to report the showing of the soon to be released full length movie presentation, Mary of Nazareth. The film depicts the life of the Blessed Mother. We have secured screenings for the Catholic Center, located at 3500 Fairfield Ave. in Shreveport, on November 17 and 18. There will be two showings on Sunday and two on Monday – a 2:30 matinee and a 6:30 evening showing.

Tickets are free, but donations will be accepted for the Summer Enrichment Program and Camp at the St. Catherine Community Center, a program that reaches out to impoverished youth in the Cedar Grove area of Shreveport.

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, considered one of the foremost experts on the life of Mary, had this to say about the film, “In light of the reality that the Virgin Mary is Gods created masterpiece and the pinnacle of the feminine mystery, there is no harder person to portray in a movie than her and, yet, Mary of Nazareth offers the best presentation of Our Lady I have ever seen. Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece!  It will make you want to love her more than ever. Mary’s beauty is pure and ageless; her feminine mystery filled with wonder and virtue, and her divine motherhood is both tender and captivating. Without a doubt, this is the most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film!”

Tickets are available through the Catholic Center. Call today to reserve yours, 318-868-4441.

It is a fantastic movie and a chance to close the Year of Faith, while looking toward the beginning of the Advent and Christmas Seasons.

by Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness

Every Day is a Thanksgiving

You’re blessed to be a blessing. Every single thing you do matters. You have probably begun to enjoy some of the changes of older age like me. What we did at 30, or even 60, no longer counts because as we age we do everything differently. All unborn generations will have their lives shifted and shaped by the moves we make today. What an awesome feeling in my heart as I reflect once more on aging in Italy and another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate silently in my heart.

Become filled with laughter and be happy to face your future and whatever surprises it may bring. Just continue to be a thankful person, even after Thanksgiving. I tell myself constantly that every day is Thanksgiving. “Love the simple joys in life that put a smile upon your face, a light in your eyes, and find happiness in your heart.” Unknown.

This will help us through hard times and is so good for the health of our minds and bodies. Laughter is good for the soul, so laugh every day at yourself, first of all, and then with someone else.

This is your call to wholeness, laughter and thanksgiving. Think about that now that you are preparing for Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends, and with the turkey and dressing will come peals of laughter to help your digestion. It should be a part of the menu!

This time of the year has arrived again for those of us who are constantly grateful to the Lord. The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of an elder person is thankfulness. At least I think so. I asked God, “Where is the greatest treasure in the world to be found?” He answered me saying, “If you have a grateful heart, you have already found it.” There is nothing more honorable than a grateful heart. “In everything give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Most of us think about food, family and friends during Thanksgiving, and less about pilgrims, Indians and George Washington proclaiming a day for giving thanks to God. Our day should be motivated by the faith and love we treasure, for our families and friends and for our new pope, for family prayer and for a forgiving thankfulness.

Let us not forget where we came from or the people who helped us along the way and make your day a splendid, grateful one.

In what ways will we show our gratitude this year? What kind of heart will you have on Thanksgiving day? I would like to think that our aging heart would think differently because of our years. It should be an indomitable heart that is grateful, happy, wise, caring, strong, laughing, celebrating, passionate, nurturing, religious, prayerful and beautiful. Hopefully this is a good description of our hearts this Thanksgiving.

Lets quiet our hearts and minds and calm our thoughts and say a prayer, and let flow all the things you have to be thankful for. As you reflect, let your feelings of joy and laughter well up inside of you, so a sense of gratitude seems to flow out like a poem or a song. Its amazing how beautiful an aging heart can be; one of Gods many miracles. Let your day become one of continuous Thanksgiving.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is “thank you,” it will be enough. – Meister Eckhardt.

Take a moment each day to be grateful and reflect on your blessings. Each of you are my blessings from God and I hope I have been a blessing in your lives too. I am sincerely grateful for you and pray to God to constantly be at your side, creating a new heart, new mind and soul for you. Happy Thanksgiving from Italy!

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

100 Years of Healing: St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe

Three special events at St. Francis Medical Center helped to commemorate 100 years of providing compassion and care.

In conjunction with the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi on Friday, October 4, the unveiling and blessing of the centennial art piece, Healing Hands, was held at 11:30 am. The stained glass, designed by Fr. Mark Bleakley, an Anglican priest from Vicksburg, MS, features five scenes representing our core values: service, reverence and love for all of life, joyfulness of spirit, humility and justice. The art is located in the main lobby of the downtown campus in Monroe (See back cover of this issue).

A special Mass of Thanksgiving for a Century of Healing was held at 2:00 p.m. in Anna Gray Noe Park to honor and celebrate the sisters, physicians, team members and volunteers who have helped to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to those most in need at St. Francis over the past 100 years. Part of the offertory procession in the Mass were three glass vases filled with recommitment cards signed by St. Francis team members, a symbol of our continued commitment to perpetuate the mission that began a century ago.

The Most Reverend Michael G. Duca, Bishop, Diocese of Shreveport, presided over both the blessing of the art piece and the Holy Mass. Tours were available following the Mass of key points of interest at the downtown campus including historical exhibits, St. Francis Chapel, Giving Sculpture, Nazareth Hall and Walls of History and Recognition.

by Saundra Nalley

2013 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal Achieves Overall Pledge Goal

by John Mark Willcox

On September 18th, your Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal saw its overall pledge goal of $1,350,000 exceeded as the programs and ministries supported through Appeal funding are now enjoying the highest level of financial support in the history of our diocese.

In addition, more than $1.2 million dollars (92%) of our pledge amount has been honored by the faithful supporters of our Appeal in every corner of our diocese. Listed below are the parishes, churches and chapels that have made this achievement possible by facilitating successful Appeal campaigns during 2013.  A big thank you goes out to these places of worship that so diligently supported our Appeal this year.

Western Deanery
St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish,  Shreveport
Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Shreveport
Holy Trinity Parish, Shreveport
St. Mary of the Pines Parish, Shreveport
Christ the King Parish, Bossier City
St. Pius X Parish, Shreveport
Mary, Queen of Peace Parish, Bossier City
St. Clement Parish, Vivian
St. George Church, Coushatta
St. Margaret Church, Homer

Eastern Deanery
St. Patrick Parish, Lake Providence
Sacred Heart Parish, Oak Grove
St. Theresa Church, Delhi
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Farmerville

Southern Deanery
St. Joseph Parish, Mansfield
St. Joseph Parish, Zwolle
St. Ann Church, Stonewall

Western Deanery: 11   Eastern Deanery: 4    Southern Deanery: 3
Number of Parishes at Goal: 18/37 (47%)

All Deaneries
St. Jude Parish, Bossier City
Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Monroe
St. Paschal Parish, West Monroe
Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Monroe
St. John the Baptist Parish, Many
St. Paul Parish, Minden
St. Ann Church, Ebarb
St. Lucy Phurch, Hodge
Sacred Heart Parish, Rayville
St. Joseph Parish, Bastrop

Annual St. Vincent de Paul Friends of the Poor Walk

The Arthur Teague Parkway in Bossier City served as one of the locations of the 6th annual Friends of the Poor® Walk/Run on September 28. The Walk, conducted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), 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. Approximately 100 people joined in the Walk in Bossier City representing nine different SVdP Conferences from churches across Shreveport, Bossier City and Monroe. Just over $7,000 was raised, reflecting an increase of over 35% from last year’s total, providing much needed funds for each conference. All funds raised locally will be used locally within each St. Vincent de Paul conference.

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 700,000 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 149 countries on six continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, MO, membership in the United States totals more than 146,000 in 4,600 communities.

by Brian Burgess

Catholic Charities Opens Office in Lake Providence

by Theresa Mormino

Most people know there is a high rate of poverty in Louisiana but perhaps you didn’t know that right here in our state, we have a parish with the second highest per capita poverty rate in our nation!  In the last available census from 2011, *East Carroll Parish had a 44% poverty rate and, even more astounding, for children the rate is 54%!

Poverty rates are much more than statistics. Just ask Sr. Bernadette “Bernie” Barrett who works one-on-one each day, along with a dedicated team of volunteers, to help those who come to the new satellite office of Catholic Charities, which opened in Lake Providence this past July. Housed in a former health unit, the team works to help individuals and families who have little other resources for assistance. The job picture is bleak in that area and the poverty rate affects everything – education, income levels, medical care, elder facilities and care, and the list goes on.

Jean Dresley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Shreveport, working closely with Sr. Bernie and Fr. Mark Watson, quickly realized the enormous need in Lake Providence and in all of East Carroll Parish for programs of assistance and education. In the first week of operation, volunteers received more than 75 calls for assistance for everything from rent and utility help to food and diapers.  Poverty is no respecter of people, especially the children who suffer. When your stomach is empty, it’s hard to concentrate on homework, pay attention in school and succeed in life.

Following Jean’s lead and modeling the Shreveport agency’s program, our financial education course, The Money School, was established in Lake Providence. Classes were filled from the beginning and continue to be today. As in the Shreveport and Bossier communities, the people of East Carroll Parish who are at or below the poverty level lacked the knowledge and skills to change life-long habits that contributed to their struggle to pay their bills and meet their most urgent needs. It’s hard to think about a budget when you are worried about having enough food to feed your family or the possibility that you will all be out on the street because you’ve been evicted from your modest home.

We all sail in the same ship and it’s our calling and our job to see to it that others who travel with us are safe, fed, housed, clothed and heard. Sr. Bernie and Fr. Watson will be glad to have you join them in this much needed and worthwhile Christian calling. They need volunteers and funding, two things we can all do to be sure that more of God’s needy have the opportunity to change their lives and have hope for the future.  For more information, call our office at 318 865-0200, ext. 101.

*Definitions: Estimated number and percentage of the total population with incomes less than the federal poverty threshold.
Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division, Small Area Estimates Branch, Washington D.C.

Seminarian Spent summer at St. Jude Church

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend my summer assignment at St. Jude Parish in Bossier City under the supervision of Fr. Pike Thomas and Peggy Moran. Let me just say that St Jude is a very busy parish – never a dull moment!  While at St. Jude I was exposed to the vast ministry opportunities that were constantly going on – even in the summer!  Fr. Pike made sure to include me in the various meetings in the parish, such as those involving the building of the new church. This was very helpful to me in understanding the time involved and the decisions that have to be made when embarking on such a task. Peggy Moran showed me the ropes in what it takes to keep things running for the various Masses and celebrations that are involved in the life of a parish. Peggy also taught me all about church records and the difficulty that can happen when looking up information and how to overcome those obstacles that can arise in that process.

While there was a lot of work, there were also times of great fun!  I had the wonderful experience being St. Paul at Vacation Bible School this summer – the closest I will come to sainthood. Another time of fun and learning was “Lunch with the Seminarian” for Altar Server training – it is amazing how serious and attentive the young people can be when learning their responsibilities of serving at the altar.

There were many other ministries I took part in at St. Jude Chuch, such as grief support, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, feeding the poor, daily Mass, nursing home services, helping with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and being available for unexpected events and needs.These times in the life of a parish are so important to the formation of future priest – it allows us to stay connected with those we will hopefully be serving one day, and gives us practical experience in the parish.Thank you Fr. Pike and St. Jude Parish for teaching me and allowing me to experience the fullness of parish life from diverse experiences!

Keith Garvin is in 4th Year Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA.