Monthly Archives: January 2014

Seminarians Accepted as Candidates for Holy Orders

Formation for the priesthood is not for the faint of heart.  It requires openness, humility, perseverance and prayer.  For anyone desiring to discern formally in a seminary setting, it means leaving behind many things and going to a new place. This is not something that any man should undertake lightly. We are blessed in this diocese to now have nine men who are willing to follow where they feel God is leading them in a radical way.

As men move through the process they know that if they go all the way that it will take either six years for those with a Bachelor’s degree, or eight years for those without one. This period of time sounds long and, yes, at times in formation it feels long as well.  There are certain moments along the way that help to break up this period of time, however, that the Church in her wisdom has put into place. The first benchmark of seminarian formation is the installation as a lector, followed by acolyte, then the rite of admission to candidacy for holy orders, ordination to the transitional diaconate and finally the ordination to the priesthood.  Each of these moments is important because they mark the progress of a man in formation culminating with the entry into the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ.

On December 22, 2013 at St. Matthew Church in Monroe, David Keith Garvin and Jerry Daigle, Jr. were accepted as candidates for Holy Orders. This was the first time Bishop Duca formally accepted men to candidacy who are studying to be priests for the diocese. In the past this has often been a ceremony that has taken place at the seminary. St. Matthew Church was not chosen for this important occasion because it is the Mother Church of the Eastern Deanery, but because it is the home parish of seminarian Jerry Daigle.  The next step for both Keith and Jerry is the ordination to the Transitional Diaconate. Keith’s ordination to the Transitional Diaconate will be held on January 11 at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.  Jerry’s ordination to the Transitional Diaconate and Keith’s ordination to the Priesthood will be held on May 31, 2014 at the Cathedral.

These are exciting days in the life of the Church and I hope many of you will be present to show your support.

by Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Vocations

Catholic Charities’ Volunteers Essential to Programs

An enormous sense of job satisfaction and achievement.  Also an awareness that you don’t need to be someone in power to make a difference.” – Volunteer Centre Ireland

If you ask any of the dedicated group of volunteers who give so selflessly every week to keep Catholic Charities of Shreveport moving forward, they would say the same.  When we tell our volunteers that we could not do this work without them, it is the reality for us. With four programs of assistance, it takes a large group with a wide range of skills to keep things going.

Our volunteers have logged hundreds of hard working hours of service this year. Imagine if Catholic Charities had to pay for all that labor, not to mention the personal hours many of our volunteers spend on things like purchasing items for Gabriel’s Closet, picking up donations or making phone calls.

This year we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of requests for assistance and that has stretched us past our capacity for handling the work load at times.  Gabriel’s Closet is currently open on Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00 – 4:00, but we would love to open the shop for low-income moms and their babies as well as the classes we offer in child safety and development at least one morning a week.  Many of the young women we help work shifts and simply can’t be here in the afternoon. Right now, the group of caring women who manage the shop, interview and complete applications, counsel and care for these mothers are stretched to the max. They just don’t have any more hours they can give.

Have you been thinking about the possibility of giving your time and your heart to something important?  To work that fills the soul?  There’s a place for you at Catholic Charities and we can promise that you’ll be surprised at what volunteering will do for you. Just ask De Allen, one of the  co-managers of Gabriel’s Closet, “I’ve received more blessings than I have given to Gabriel’s Closet.”

There are many other opportunities to consider for men and women who want to be of service in our community and make life-changing differences for the poor and vulnerable.  If you have computer skills, we can use your help.  What about data entry?  That’s always a need, especially for those who are bi-lingual in English and Spanish. Would you consider speaking on the phone or in person to clients? Our immigration and emergency assistance departments always need help. That is the heart of Catholic Charities: clients who need to be heard and helped. Perhaps you could become a financial coach for those who’ve completed financial education. Please prayerfully consider the possibilities to make a life-changing difference for yourself and most especially, for the poor.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

The Church at Home: Forever Open to Life

by Katie Sciba

It’s time to evaluate the domestic church, the family, the most basic unit of society. It’s time to take an honest look at how open to life we are to the ones at home. The Catholic colloquialism “open to life” is more often used in reference to Natural Family Planning (NFP) and efforts against abortion; and though it’s certainly relevant, the idea has a broader umbrella involving family life as a whole. Openness to life goes widely unconsidered when it comes to the domestic church, but it’s both fundamental and paramount for a family to thrive. When society prominently participates in what Blessed John Paul II called the Culture of Death, we have to remain firm in our Catholic conviction that a culture of LIFE is the way to imitate Christ and welcome Him into our homes.

The roots of any family grow from deep within marriage. It seems uncharted to apply the idea of being open to life here, but being receptive to each other and seeking to love as Christ loves will do nothing but cultivate lasting peace and joy at home. More easily said than done, right? In any normal situation, being open to life in marriage means seeking to understand before being understood; it means helping your spouse reach goals and dreams; but we know marriage isn’t always wedded bliss. It might take a concerted effort to maintain a welcoming spirit to our spouses, but who should be more welcome in our lives than the people we married? Welcome your spouses opinion, insight, and decisions… especially when it comes to disagreeing. My husband and I learned (and re-learn) that in an argument, our focus shouldn’t be him vs. me, it should be finding common ground together. It takes patience to validate each others feelings and sacrifice our desires to be heard. Ultimately though, its better to support the two of us as a team instead of trying to “win” an argument alone; and for us its a demonstration of acceptance if were feeling defensive or vulnerable.

In every Catholic wedding, a couple makes vows to be faithful, total, exclusive and fruitful. Thats right – Catholics make a sacred vow that theyll accept children from God in their union; and while there are certainly just reasons to postpone pregnancy in marriage, were encouraged to welcome little souls into our families apart from societys message that kids are a messy inconvenience (CCC 2367-2368). To commit to the vows on your wedding day is to accept the whole personhood of your spouse and to give your entire self in return. For this reason, the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is wrong because it places a condition on the covenant made with God and your spouse; a condition that says, I accept all of you, except your fertility. I accept Gods plan for us, except if He wants to bless us with children (CCC 2370). Dont worry, this doesnt mean we need mindlessly have baby after baby after baby; God gifted us with reason to prayerfully discern the growth of our families and we are free to employ Natural Family Planning for the achievement or deferral of pregnancy (CCC 2370). At this point, its obvious that remaining open to more children is not some rosy ideal for affluent, peaceful families – this is a hardcore challenge not for the faint of soul. It takes courageous faith in Gods providence and grace because, lets be real, parenting isnt the most comfortable job out there and I can think of a hundred vacations Id like to take, a nicer car to drive, or more hours to sleep at night. For Andrew and me, wrangling small children tests our mettle hour by hour with tantrums from toddlers and infant insomnia; and truly, the thought of starting over with another new baby some day is exhausting. But we ask for the grace to be open, always open, to what God will ask of our family, knowing the value of one life is incomparable to anything else.

And speaking of kids, it takes a conscious effort to be receptive to them because we get used to them, or maybe a little annoyed with them; and there are no family members who can drain parents so much as their own kids. As a mother of three little boys, I get how much our sons need us and to be honest, its exhausting. But I notice that the exhaustion is cut in half, surprisingly, the more I invest in them, the more I listen to them, and the more I set aside what Im doing for the sake of being with them. My two older sons are 3 ½ and 2 years old, but even as little ones they have concerns, ideas, and activities they want to do. Im amazed at how much happier and more energetic they are when Im more of a Yes Mom. Yes, Ill look you in the eyes when youre speaking. Yes, your concerns are my concerns. We cant color right now, but yes we can after your nap. Ive heard that parenting becomes more challenging as children get older, but I have a hunch that if our boys know they can come to us now, theyll come to us later. Being open to life as a parent means being open to the life you helped create, the life playing in the room down the hall and sitting at the table next to you. How often are we open to hearing our children out? Do we welcome their opinions, imperfections, and mistakes with loving guidance and correction? The child of a parent whos open to life will walk confident in his or her own value and be more inclined to receive others.

Openness to life among family – husbands, wives, and children alike – is of paramount importance to the thriving of the domestic church and the Catholic Church as a whole; but none of it is possible unless were open to the Author of Life Himself. The keys to accepting spouses and children are recognizing Gods profound love for them, and investing our time and attention without counting the cost. So it is in a relationship with God; invest yourself in Him with reckless abandon by making time for personal prayer, pray for and with your spouse, and pray for yourself. Demonstrate a humble example by praying with your children no matter what age. Marriage and family life demand much from any person; to succeed we need active relationships with God and opportunities to sharpen ourselves, making us equal to the task by Gods grace.

In the Diocese of Shreveport, were blessed with a special zeal for life, the fruit of which being two extraordinary events happening within just a few weeks. For the first time in diocesan history, were hosting our very own marriage conference on Saturday, January 25th. The conference will cover topics like fighting fair, Natural Family Planning, second marriages, and more. Additionally, Bishop Ducas 4th Annual Pro-Life Banquet, Living By Faith, is February 20th; a perfect chance to learn more about being pro-life and to support the growing cause here at home. Find registration and more information for both events on www.dioshpt.org.

Upcoming Family Life Events

Diocesan Marriage & Family Life Conference
at the Catholic Center in Shreveport on Saturday,
January 25.  Benefit from fantastic presenters and breakout sessions for couples of all ages. Topics include
“Fighting Fair,” “Natural Family Planning,” “Second Marriages” and a Spanish track! Contact 318-868-4441 for more information, or visit www.dioshpt.org.

Fourth Annual Bishop’s Pro-Life Banquet
Each year the Diocese of Shreveport hosts a pro-life banquet to bring awareness to life issues and raise money to support life ministries within the diocese. The next banquet will take place on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at the Bossier Civic Center at 6:00 p.m. Call Bernadette Boyd for more info at 318-458-5252. For more information, click here to visit the diocesan website.

St. John Berchmans Students Placed 3rd in Robotics Competition

The St. John Berchmans School Robotics team placed third in a recent RARC competition hosted by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC).  The 5th graders on the team are Brandan Bowers, Xander Kihlken, Isabella Bozeman, Katie Ogden, Jack Cryblyskey and Meredith Townley and are coached by  Shannon Back. The RARC is a series of three STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) competitions for students in grades 4-12.  The competitions build upon one another and allow students to work together in teams and compete against other students within their division in STEM and liberal arts challenges.  SJB will compete in two more tournaments in 2014.

 

St. Joseph School 5th Graders Qualified for State Robotics Competition

St. Joseph School 5th Graders qualified for the State Robotics Competition in New Orleans. This competition matched 60 teams up from around the state to chase the ultimate recognition in robotics. In their first year, our Falcons received the “Rising Star Award.”

Jesus the Good Shepherd Students Participated in Food Drive

Students at Jesus the Good Shepherd School participated in the KTVE-KARD Christmas Cheer Food Drive for the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank. The students collected 16.8 lbs per child of canned goods and enjoyed the feeling of participating in an event that helped others. The school won second place in the Elementary Division and will donate their prize money to the Society of St.Vincent de Paul.

Loyola Students Hosted Flyers Aiding the Hungry

Flyers Aiding the Hungry (FAiTH) is a student-inspired and organized effort at Loyola College Prep that works to provide a holiday meal for more than 600 disadvantaged families in the Shreveport-Bossier area. The 24th annual FAiTH Day was held on Monday, December 9 in the Loyola gym. Supported through fundraisers, donations and basket sales, chairmen and officers join the majority of the Loyola students in distributing baskets of food for families and a toy for each child who accompanied their parents on this special distribution day.

Catholic Schools Week 2014

This coming year marks the 40th anniversary of National Catholic Schools Week (NCSW) (January 26 – February 1, 2014).  The theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” and it will remain in place for at least three years.  The joint sponsors of the week, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), believe that this will give schools longer-term opportunities to brand National Catholic Schools Week and their ongoing marketing activities with repeated mentions and use of a consistent logo.
Catholic Schools Week is celebrated across the nation to bring attention to and recognize the unique learning opportunites Catholic Schools afford their students.

Since arriving in the Diocese of Shreveport in 1999, I’ve been asked many times, “How do I know the Catholic schools are Catholic”?  I offer the following to parents as a guide when choosing a Catholic school in north Louisiana.

Our Catholic identity in our schools:
Centered in the person of Jesus Christ
Contribute to the evangelizing mission of the Church
Distinguished by excellence in education
Committed to educate the whole child
Steeped in a Catholic world view
Sustained by Gospel witness
Shaped by communion and community
Accessible to all students
Established by the expressed authority of the bishop

These clearly defined characteristics are the backdrop for all we do as Catholic educators, and what parents who choose Catholic schools expect. Everyone who believes in Catholic schooling should talk to those who do not know about these defining characteristics which make our schools different.

In their 2005 document “Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops again affirmed their statement from the 1973 document “To Teach As Jesus Did,” “We are convinced that Catholic schools continue to be ‘the most effective means available to the church for the education of children and young people,’ who are the future of the church.”

The Catholic Schools celebration will begin in Monroe on Monday, January 27, at St. Frederick High School.  Bishop Michael Duca will serve as the presider at the Liturgy. He will be joined by all the pastors and deacons in the Eastern Deanery to celebrate Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.

The Shreveport Catholic Schools communities will celebrate on Wednesday, January 29, at Loyola College Prep. The pastors and deacons of the Shreveport area are invited to join our community celebration.

Thursday, January 30, St. John Berchmans Cathedral School will host their annual Religion Scholars Bowl.  Students from each of the elementary schools and St. Frederick Junior High will gather for this friendly competition.

The schools will be hosting many other events at their school sites.  See the sidebar on the right for a list of some events, or contact the schools for a complete schedule.

by Sr. Carol Shively, Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Navigating the Faith: Intercessory Prayer

by Dianne Rachal, Director of the Office of Worship

Catholics are often asked why we pray to Mary and the saints.  While prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God and the requesting of good things from Him, intercessory prayer concerns the needs and hopes of others.  Jesus Christ, our High Priest, always intercedes for us before the Father, and he calls us to intercede for others as well.  The saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary continue this prayer of intercession in heaven.  As Mother of the Church, Mary continues to pray with a mother’s care for the Body of her Son on earth.

At Cana, Mary interceded with Jesus on behalf of the couple who had run out of wine.  Jesus heard her prayer and turned water into wine.  Mary’s last words in Scripture are spoken to us: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (Jn 2:5).  Our holy Mother always brings us to Jesus.

In our culture, there can be discomfort with praying for Mary’s intercession on our behalf.  This seems to be a mediating role that crosses a line set out in the First Letter to Timothy: “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tm 2:5).  So Jesus Christ is the one and only mediator.  Jesus alone is the Savior.

But this does not deny the possibility that Christ would permit others to share in his mediating role.  Here on earth we routinely ask others for prayers.  Instinctively, we turn to holy people for their prayers because they seem nearer to God.  Why would we stop asking saints for their prayers after they die?  If we believe they are in heaven, would not their prayers be even more effective?

From the earliest times, Christians have sought Mary’s prayers and help.  There has been the basic sense on the part of the Church that Mary continues in heaven to be concerned for the growth of all members of the Church into holiness and an intimate relationship with her Son.

“Because of Mary’s singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her” (CCC, no. 2682). This twofold movement of joining Mary in praising God for His gifts to her and seeking her intercession has found a privileged expression in the Hail Mary.

Along with the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary is one of the most widely used prayers in the Catholic Church.  While the first half of the Hail Mary comes from Luke’s Gospel account of the annunciation, the second half of this prayer is an intercessory prayer:

Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Church, with a special love, venerates Mary, the Mother of God, and also offers for the devotion of the faithful the memory of the martyrs and other saints.  Throughout Church history, saints have left a heritage of prayer “by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings,” and their continued prayers in heaven on our behalf.  We rely on Mary and the saints for their intercession when we present our needs to God in prayer.

Forms of popular devotion include the use of icons, holy pictures, stained glass windows and statues as supports for prayer.  Religious art has always been an important part of our Catholic tradition. The veneration of icons—religious images of Christ, Mary, the angels, and the saints—was upheld by the seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicea (AD 787).  The fact that, in the Incarnation, Christ took on human nature provided the foundation for the Church’s tradition that artistic images such as icons can portray mysteries of salvation.  Whoever venerates a holy image venerates the person portrayed.

The faithful do not worship pictures and statues.  In images of Mary and the saints we venerate the persons represented.  This veneration of Mary and the saints—and images of them—differs from the adoration that belongs to God alone.  The veneration of Mary and the saints ultimately leads to God.  We do not pray to Mary and the saints in the same way we pray to God.  In praying to Mary and the saints, we invoke their intercession on behalf of our needs, whereas when we pray to God we ask Him directly for gifts and favors.

Devotional prayers to Mary and the saints include the rosary, novenas and prayers to individual saints. The Litany of the Saints is a special invocation of the Blessed Mother and of the saints chanted at baptisms and ordinations. We honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with a number of feasts in the liturgical year.  The feasts and memorials of the martyrs and saints are occasions to praise God for what He has accomplished in them and to imitate their virtues.  The saints are examples to us of love for God and others, of heroic courage in practicing faith, and of concern for the needs of others.  We rely on their intercession when we present our needs to God in prayer.

In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, and all your Saints; we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help.  (Eucharistic Prayer I)

From United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C., 2006.

Moveable Feast: A Family Tradition

by Kim Long

We follow many kinds of instructions in our daily lives: taking notes from sacred scripture or inspirational readings and stories of great people or the wise counsel of a trusted friend, all the way down to our GPS systems. But have you ever considered that we are also taking instruction when we follow a recipe?

Many Christmases ago I received a blank spiral bound book whose cover announced to me that here in my hands rested my own “Family Cookbook.” In other words, I was to write my own. I still have it and was given a second volume not long ago by a different relative. Both are nearly full. They, not Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson, are often my first choices when rummaging for something a bit different. My mother, grandmother and my beloved aunt are my mentors at this time of year when the Thanksgiving/Advent/Christmas holiday cooking marathon is behind me. And while its true that Mardi Gras is leading us toward Lent, we can take, if not quite a break from the kitchen, then a respite from the heavy turkey/ham/roast beef meals of previous weeks. We cast our eye toward something different, sustaining and easy on our budget. In the cases when we use a family recipe, we are choosing to follow someone elses experience and wisdom in our kitchens, in our menu planning, in how we choose to spend our grocery budgets. We are employing the wisdom and success of those who have gone before us.

I am fascinated by family recipes and if I am thumbing through cookbooks and a dog eared sheet of paper in my mothers handwriting falls out, I wont lie, I take it as a sign that perhaps on this particular day, at this particular moment, there is some wisdom here for me in this set of instructions we call a recipe.
And so it was this past weekend, which was really hectic, by the way, that I found “out of nowhere” a piece of paper as I was straightening. A smile lit my face when I saw Harriets Special Pancake. I thought I had lost this forever and here it was coming to me when I needed to feel the presence of my mother. I have never met Harriet, but this recipe had been used when my mother was living on a very tight budget. She made it often in the cold winter months. Simple, basic fare, but in the right company and with the opening of our hearts even the most humble offering can make us feel loved and cherished. So, Harriet, whoever you are, wherever you are thank you.

This month as we celebrate and honor family life I happily share a piece of our family with this simple but delicious recipe. Another morsel Id like to offer under the umbrella of kitchen wisdom is the word ‘cherish which means to lovingly protect and care for someone, which is exactly what my mother did when she cooked for us. Its what we do for one another and our extended family and friends. Cooking is a practical task, we gotta eat – not every meal will be a success or something to write home about, but on a deeper level cooking is one of the most commonly employed methods by which we show the people in our lives that we love them, that we cherish them.

In that first blank cookbook which is of course blank no longer, I wrote a proverb ‘eggs of an hour, bread of a day, wine of a year and friends of a lifetime and so may it be with you.

Harriet’s Special Pancake

Ingredients:
• 1/4 cup of butter
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup milk
• ½ cup self-rising flour

Directions:
Melt butter in a black iron skillet. In a blender or food processor combine the eggs, milk and flour. Pour into the skillet with the butter. Bake at 400 (yes 400) degrees until golden brown. This is really only a few minutes and since all ovens are their own person, just keep an eye on it. And here I will give you my mother’s advice which was written on the bottom of the recipe, “Good any time with sausage or bacon and lots of maple syrup. Doesn’t need to be buttered.”