Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Transforming Experience of Soup

by Kim Long

Soup has been embedded in my memory for decades. How can I make such a statement? Come with me and I’ll take you to Oak Street and one of my favorite childhood memories of being with my great grandmother, “Nannie”, on cold afternoons. We were greeted with the sing song voice some older women have, “come in the house!” We were ushered in so the door could keep the cold wind at bay and in the next instant we realized the smell of something good with a single word; the smell was that of soup, more specifically “wagon train” soup – her euphemism for vegetable soup. Sometimes there was meat, but mostly vegetables, always delicious, and served in thick white bowls with cornbread and, of course, love. Another family mainstay was potato soup and this was the domain of my grandmother. It seemed magical that she could make it from potatoes, red or white, as well as instant flakes and it always tasted good and nourishing, not thin and gruel-like, but really rib-sticking.

In our fast food world soup can seem like a bit of bother… we must shop, purchase, come home and make a space on the counter, haul out the chopping board and big soup pot and begin the peeling, chopping, and slicing (perhaps even humming as you go), until there are no longer individual ingredients standing on their own. We have a delicious pot of soup, sustenance to carry us through the weekend or the week. It takes time and when we give ourselves permission to slow down and really get into the cooking of a pot of soup we are a little different too. Perhaps our tone is softer. We lovingly reach for the bowls and spoons, check the clock and see that stirring up a pan of cornbread won’t take any time at all. We, like the ingredients, have had our own little transformation.

While it is true we are in the big middle of carnival season and Mardi Gras parades, dinners, parties, cook outs and balls, we are also in a transition within the Church year. Carnival isn’t an official season in our liturgical calendar, although some think it should be. Not growing up Catholic Mardi Gras and Carnival weren’t within my purview. A classmate with a cousin who had been to “the Mardi Gras” brought beads to our elementary class once. That was as close as I came to touching this amazing time. Amazing because I do believe that carnival is an invitation to a specific type of transformation.

Gertrud Mueller Nelson says in her book, To Dance with God, that Carnival is a time to explore our shadow self. Not an easy task but it seems safer, less threatening when done wearing the mask of Carnival. This is certainly visible when everyone around you at a Mardi Gras parade screams with unbridled enthusiasm “Throw me something Mister,” along with arms outstretched begging and cajoling for the treats of the season. We come away full of beads, laughter and smiles. We come away somehow changed by the revelry. We go home and put the masks away and ready ourselves for our Lenten journey. We have been fortified, we have allowed our shadow to dwell with us and we carry a little more of that self  knowledge with us into the desert.

I offer this unusual recipe for Mushroom Bisque because mushrooms grow in the dark and yet when they are harvested and brought into the light we can make wonderful dishes with them. So this year catch some beads, eat some king cake and embrace the side of you “under the mask!”

Mushroom Bisque

• 6 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 2 cups chopped celery
• 2 cups finely chopped spinach
• 4 cups sliced mushrooms
• 5 cups milk
• 4 tablespoons unbleached white flour
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoons salt
• dash of black pepper

In a three quart  soup pot melt two tablespoons of butter and saute the onions and celery over medium heat. When the onions begin to brown (about 10 minutes), add spinach and mushrooms and saute until tender (approximately three to five minutes more). Add four cups of milk (don’t skimp, use whole milk) and simmer on low flame, uncovered. Meanwhile, melt the remaining four tablespoons butter in a small pan. Add flour and stir until smooth. Add remaining one cup of milk, stirring with a whisk, then add to soup along with water. Add salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes and serve.

Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan published by Harper and Row

Hope for the New Year: Living as the Body of CHrist

by Bishop Michael Duca

At the beginning of every New Year I seem to find a reason to be more joyful and hopeful.  Some years it comes from a New Year’s resolution or a hope that last year’s problems are over and it is time for a new beginning.  This year though, the source of my new found joy comes from our new ordinations to the priesthood and the diaconate.

On January 11 of this year I had the joyful opportunity to ordain Keith Garvin, a seminarian for the Diocese of Shreveport, to the diaconate.  On May 31, 2014, I will ordain Deacon Keith Garvin to the priesthood and seminarian Jerry Daigle to the diaconate. Then, on June 28, I will ordain 16 men to the permanent diaconate who will serve in the most eastern parishes to the most western parishes of the diocese.  This is such a wonderful change for our diocese and it should give us hope, not only because we have new priests and deacons to serve our parishes, but because these new ordinations and our growing number of seminarians are a sign of a Church alive in Jesus Christ. This surge of ordinations gives me hope because it is a true answer to the serious problem of our shrinking number of diocesan clergy.

I think we often view the serious lack of priests in our diocese as a problem the Church can solve with the change of the celibacy rule or by changing some other external aspect of Church teaching or of the life of a priest.  But I think this is an incomplete understanding of the real issue.  There are real current day issues that affect vocations.  For example, the majority of our Catholic families are smaller with only one or two children.  Also, the secular message to succeed and achieve financial independence is powerful and is often drowning out the value and appeal of a life lived in service to the community, the church or the world.  But even these real life obstacles are not the full answer to why less men and women seem to choose a religious vocation.

I believe our vocation problem is rooted in our lack of a personal and Church-wide understanding of our own life as a vocation, that is a life lived in response to the call of God.  I have often said that if our faith is not the center of our decision making, or the source of our motivation, or guide in a difficult moral decision, then we need to find out what is our central belief, our primary motivation in life and our guide in moral decision-making.  As disciples we are called to put Christ in the center.  When we decide not to go to Mass this or that Sunday, WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT?  This decision is deeply important because the value that is more important than going to Mass is creating the person we are becoming.  As Christians we are to put Christ in our center so that we are daily shaped into someone more like Christ.  If we are not becoming more like Christ, then what are the more important values shaping us into?  Are we becoming a person who is more popular, richer, more beautiful, safer, more in control of our life on our terms, and seemingly more free?

The more we live together as the Body of Christ and live our vocation received at Baptism to become each day more like a disciple of Christ, then the more we will teach our children that to serve God is a noble and deeply worthwhile vocation.  And we will not even have to tell them this with our words because they will see it in our actions.  They will see it in what is most important to us.  We will live as a people called by God to service.

My hope this year and in years to come is that we will continue to have young men seek to enter the seminary and young women to consider the convent because they will have learned the value of service, the importance of faith and the wisdom of living their lives as a vocation, a call from Jesus Christ, to bring His love to the world.  My hope is that we have more vocations today and will ordain each year because of a renewed understanding in each of us throughout the diocese of what it means to be a disciple.  I hope each of us in our own spiritual lives will continue to discover new ways to be disciples of Jesus Christ because of our renewed involvement in the ACTS retreats, the Magnificat Association, our pro-life witness, our Catholic Schools, a renewed Catechetical program, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, Youth Ministries, Hispanic Ministries and so many other faith-filled organizations and ministries of our diocese.  My hope is that as this renewal of heart deepens our faith and makes our discipleship more central to our lives so we will encourage new vocations to the Church because we believe that to choose a life in service of the Church is a noble and joyful vocation.

Esperanza para el Año Nuevo: Vivir Como el Cuerpo de Cristo

Al comienzo de cada Año Nuevo parece que tengo una razón para estar contento y con esperanza. Algunos años este gozo me viene de alguna resolución de Año Nuevo o una esperanza de que los problemas del año anterior se han pasado y es tiempo de nuevos comienzos. Este año, sin embargo, la fuente de mi gozo nuevo me viene de nuestras nuevas ordenaciones al sacerdocio y al diaconado.

El 11 de enero de este año tuve el gozo y la oportunidad de ordenar a Keith Garvin, un seminarista para la Diócesis de Shreveport, al diaconado. El 31 de mayo del 2014, ordenaré al ahora Diácono Keith Garvin al sacerdocio y al seminarista Jerry Daigle al diaconado. Luego el 28 de junio, ordenaré 16 hombres al diaconado permanente que servirán en las parroquias, desde las más lejanas del este hasta las del oeste de la diócesis. Este es un cambio maravilloso para nuestra diócesis y que debe darnos esperanza, no solo porque tenemos nuevos sacerdotes y diáconos para servir en nuestras parroquias, sino porque estas nuevas ordenaciones y un número creciente de seminaristas son una señal de una Iglesia viva en Jesucristo. Este número de ordenaciones me da esperanza porque es una verdadera respuesta a los problemas serios que tenemos de un bajo número de clero diocesano.

Pienso que con frecuencia vemos la seria falta de sacerdotes en nuestra diócesis como un problema que la Iglesia puede resolver cambiando la regla del celibato u otros aspectos externos de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia o de la vida de los sacerdotes. Yo pienso que este es un entendimiento incompleto del verdadero problema. Existen verdaderos problemas actuales que afectan las vocaciones. Por ejemplo, la mayoría de nuestras familias Católicas son pequeñas con solo uno o dos hijos. También, el mensaje seglar de que el éxito y el logro de independencia financiera son poderosos y con frecuencia ahogan el valor y la atracción a una vida al servicio de la comunidad, de la iglesia y del mundo. Pero aun estos obstáculos verdaderos en la vida no son la respuesta completa al porque menos hombres y mujeres escogen una vida religiosa.

Creo que el problema de vocaciones esta enraizado en nuestra falta personal y como iglesia del entendimiento de nuestra propia vida como una vocación, o sea una vida vivida en respuesta al llamado de Dios. Con frecuencia he dicho que si nuestra fe no es el centro de las decisiones que tomamos, o la fuente de nuestra motivación, o la guía en una decisión moral difícil, ahí es donde necesitamos encontrar cual es nuestra creencia central, nuestra motivación principal en la vida y nuestra guía al tomar nuestras decisiones morales.  Como discípulos somos llamados a poner a Cristo en el centro. Cuando decidimos no ir a Misa en Domingo, ¿QUE ES LO MAS IMPORTANTE? Esta decisión es profundamente importante porque el valor que es más importante que ir a Misa está creando a la persona en la que nos vamos convirtiendo. Como cristianos debemos poner a Cristo en el centro para que seamos formados diariamente en alguien que se parece más a Cristo. Si no nos vamos convirtiendo más como Cristo, entonces ¿Cuáles son los valores más importantes que nos están formando? ¿Nos estamos convirtiendo en una persona que es más popular, más rica, más bonita, más segura, más en el centro de nuestra vida pero en nuestros propios términos, y aparentemente más libres?

Entre más vivamos juntos como el Cuerpo de Cristo y vivamos nuestra vocación recibida en el Bautismo de llegar a ser cada día más como discípulos de Cristo, más enseñaremos a nuestros hijos que servir a Dios es una vocación valiosa y profunda. Y ni siquiera tendremos que decírselos con palabras porque ellos lo verán en nuestras acciones. Verán lo que es más importante para nosotros.  Viviremos como gente llamada por Dios al servicio.
Mi esperanza es que este año y los años venideros continuemos teniendo hombres jóvenes que busquen entrar al seminario y mujeres jóvenes que consideren el convento porque habrán aprendido el valor del servicio, la importancia de la fe y la sabiduría de vivir sus vidas como una vocación, un llamado de Jesucristo, de llevar Su amor al mundo. Mi esperanza es que tendremos más vocaciones actuales y tendremos ordenaciones  cada año como resultado de un entendimiento renovado en cada uno de nosotros en toda la diócesis de lo que significa ser un discípulo. Que cada uno de nosotros en nuestra propia vida espiritual continuemos descubriendo nuevas maneras de ser discípulos de Jesucristo por nuestro involucramiento en los retiros de ACTS, de la Asociación Magnificat, de nuestro testimonio con Pro-vida, de las Escuelas católicas, del programa catequético renovado, de la Sociedad de San Vicente de Paul, de Caridades Católicas, del Ministerio de Jóvenes, del Ministerio Hispano y de muchas más organizaciones llenas de fe y ministerios de nuestra diócesis. Mi esperanza es que esta renovación de corazón vaya profundizando nuestra fe para construir  nuestro discipulado más central a nuestras vidas para animar  vocaciones nuevas a la Iglesia porque creemos que escoger una vida de servicio a la Iglesia es una vocación noble y alegre.

Mary Morgan Received Prestigious Dei Verbum Award

On Sunday, January 12, Dean Mark Goodwin, and professor Jim McGill and Gene Giuliano from the University of Dallas presented the Dei Verbum award to Mary Morgan at the 11:00 Mass at Christ the King Church in Bossier City. The award is given each year by the School of Ministry of the University of Dallas to a graduate of the Catholic Biblical School who has offered exceptional service to the local church, the ministry of faith formation and to the larger community, especially the poor.  This award was scheduled to be given to Mary on December 7, 2013 at the university, but an ice storm forced the cancellation of the event.

Mary has been teaching RCIA and pre-Cana classes for over 25 years. She also visits the sick every week, brings communion to them, comforts them during their suffering and is there for them as they face the end of their life. She is involved with Christian Services and the Poor Man’s Supper fundraiser, as well as actively paricipates in the 40 Days for Life by praying at the abortion clinic. Mary is also actively involved in prison ministry. This began with visiting prisoners and it has unfolded into giving support to their families. She volunteers at the Martin Luther King medical clinic and is a nurse, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. Congratulations Mary!

St. Jude Processed to New Church

St. Jude Church had a Eucharistic procession from the site of their old church to their newly built church on Sunday, January 5, 2014. They had more than 200 cars in the procession, along with a police escort from the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.  It was a great day for the church!

Reception Held for Deacon Garvin

A party was held in honor of Keith Garvin being ordained to the Transitional Diaconate at the home of Clay and Allison Cook. The Batson and McCurdy families helped give the party. Pictured: Bishop Michael Duca, Keith Garvin and Vocations Director Fr. Matthew Long pose with the host families’ children.

St. Patrick Church Hosted Christmas Party

On Sunday, December 15, St. Patrick Church in Lake Providence enjoyed its annual Christmas party and potluck meal.

Zwolle Children Performed Nativity Play

Everyone enjoyed watching the children of St. Joseph Church in Zwolle present the Nativity play and sing their Christmas song “Happy Birthday Jesus.” The children were surprised by a special guest: Santa Claus!

St. Joseph Church Mansfield Celebrated 20th Anniversary of Hispanic Ministry

St. Joseph Church in Mansfield celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Hispanic Ministry on December 8, 2013. Bishop Michael Duca led the celebration and Fr. Juan Garcia and Fr. Al Jost concelebrated the Spanish Mass.

Cathedral Dedicated Image of St. Vincent de Paul

With the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe so beautifully executed, members of the Cathedral parish decided on another project.  With their very active and ever growing outreach ministries, including two chapters of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, “we commissioned Granda to paint an image of St. Vincent de Paul, to complement the image of Our Lady to be added to the sacred space already filled with much art and stained glass and statuary,” said Fr. Peter Mangum. There are similar sizes, shapes and types of flowers in both paintings. The St. Vincent de Paul painting has a frame identical to that of the Our Lady of Guadalupe image.  It was blessed by Bishop Duca on December 8, with representatives of the diocesan chapters of the Society of SVdP and other outreach ministries present.