Monthly Archives: March 2014

Archbishop Wenski Urges Congressional Support for Second Chance Act

WASHINGTON—Congress should take an important step to address issues faced by the more than 650,000 men, women and juveniles who reenter society each year from prisons, jails and detention centers. This was the message of the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the president of Catholic Charities USA in a March 4 letter supporting the Second Chance Act (S. 1690/H.R. 3465).

“Those who return to our communities from incarceration face significant challenges. These include finding housing and stable employment, high rates of substance abuse, physical and mental health challenges and social isolation,” wrote Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Father Larry Snyder in a March 4 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder wrote that, without necessary support services, these individuals have an increased chance of re-offending.

“The Second Chance Act supports much needed programs in government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support and other services to individuals returning to the community from prison or jail,” they wrote.

Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder noted the bill supports “common sense solutions” proven to reduce recidivism rates. These include grants for mentoring programs and family-based treatment centers, development of resources and best practices around reentry and a taskforce to promote cooperation between agencies.

The full text of the letter is available online:

Bishop Pates Urges Prayer and Action During Lent for Peace in the Holy Land

WASHINGTON—Catholics can make praying for peace in the Holy Land part of their Lenten journey by using resources from the Justice, Peace and Human Development department of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishop who chairs the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace also urges U.S. Catholics to act and speak out for peace.

In a January 24 letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, IA, urged U.S. Catholics to “focus prayer and attention on peace in the Holy Land this year.” Bishop Pates cited efforts by the United States to move Israel and Palestine toward adopting a framework for peace as a serious matter in need of much prayer.

“In the coming weeks, I invite you to pray regularly for Israeli-Palestinian peace,” he wrote. He also encouraged Catholics to write letters to the editors of their local newspapers and let their neighbors and public officials know of their support for the issue.

Resources provided by USCCB in English and Spanish include a Way of the Cross and suggested Prayers of the Faithful. They are posted online:
Bishop Pates’ letter is also available online:

The Thoughtful Side of Revelry

For several years now our Parish School of Religion has celebrated Mardi Gras in a rather grand fashion; we elect a royal court and have a presentation, we run a spiritual Mardi Gras with the children collecting the spiritual symbols of Mardi Gras, we sing the “Alleluia,” and after a discussion on what it means, we bury it in a black bag (symbolically) and raise it after Easter Sunday. Last year our students were expecting a huge treat—Mardi Gras royalty were coming to visit us and help with the presentation of our own court. The kids were really excited, asking questions that ranged from, “Will they drive to church on a float?” to “Will the queen wear her crown?” to “Will they bring us beads?” Truth be told the teacher and I were just as excited.

But first, something happened and, as it often goes, God had other plans; cliché perhaps, but there was really no other way to describe the chain of events that  happened.

I received a phone call, the King of this particular krewe had been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. Next I made several calls but the first one was to the person in charge of our prayer quilt ministry; more bad news there were no full-sized quilts available although there could be one ready as early as the next day she assured me. No, I said we needed it that night and I gave her a quick rundown of what happened. She said they did have some prayer squares. She told me to just go on over to the room and find one I liked. My next call was to my coordinator to give her the news. As mothers we are use to making adjustments, but we both wondered what the students would think. Would they be really disappointed?

We needn’t have been too worried. When the situation was explained to our “royalty” why the King and Queen couldn’t be present with us they immediately asked another range of questions, but this time the focus was on the person who was sick: “What happens when a king gets sick?” “My grandma had to have an operation, was there blood?” “Will he have to go to heaven or will Jesus fix him here?”

When we asked if they’d like to tie a knot and then we could all say a prayer, several hands shot up to ask it they could lead the prayer. Fr. Francis blessed the square and it was delivered that night to the hospital.

This year the same King and Queen asked if they could come and visit. Of course we were excited, but nothing prepared me for what followed.

“King” Johnny pulled a drawstring bag from the chair we put aside for him and, better than a magician with a hat, pulled the prayer square from the bag. He told me that nothing had touched him in such a way. Someone standing nearby wasn’t familiar with the story, so here is what the “King” told him: “I was sick last year and had to have surgery, but was supposed to be here with these kids. When they found out I wasn’t coming instead of being upset they were worried about ME!” His wife added that the doctor told him he had made a faster recovery than “normal” and she told me they KNEW it was due to prayer.”

These days we are all trying to instill values in our children and a sense of caring for one another in a world that supports the opposite. Even amidst revelry there is faith!

by Kim Long, DRE, St. Mary of the Pines Parish

Fast-Tracks Work at Highland Medical Center

CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier announced that the $55 million investment in CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center will continue with certain elements of the construction moving more quickly than originally planned.

“We’re pleased to announce that we are able to fast-track some of our construction at Highland,” according to William Lunn, M.D., COO of CHRISTUS Health Shreveport-Bossier.  “In addition to moving and consolidating the NICU and Birth Place services on the Highland campus earlier than planned, we’ve also opened a new primary care practice in southeast Shreveport and will open a satellite clinic in Bossier for our Cancer Treatment Center in April.”

Groundbreaking for Phase 3 of the Highland construction, the West Wing of CHRISTUS Highland Medical Center, was held on Tuesday, March 18th at 10 a.m.  The West Wing will include two new floors for the hospital, which will house the Birth Place, NICU and rehabilitation services. It will also include a new hospital lobby and a first floor devoted to the Cancer Treatment Center, which will relocate to Highland in Summer 2015.

In addition, the new plan will include a new adult ICU and additional day surgery space in the project once the West Wing construction is complete.

The new strategic direction announced by CHRISTUS in 2013 included providing more access points for primary care and outpatient services, as well as expansion into Bossier.  A new Family Medicine physician, Donna Wyatt, M.D., has joined CHRISTUS Primary Care Associates at the Highland campus and Dr. Asha Kilaru opened her new Internal Medicine practice in southeast Shreveport. The satellite clinic for the Cancer Treatment Center in Bossier will be located in the CHRISTUS Bossier Healthplex facility located at 2539 Viking Drive.

According to Lunn, most of the adult services at the CHRISTUS Schumpert campus have been transitioned to the Highland campus, and 15 additional acres adjacent to that campus have been acquired. “The momentum is growing, and we look forward to announcing the completion of more milestones of this investment in the future.”

by Dana Smelser

Catholic Women’s League Serves the Community

The Catholic Women’s League is a ministry that aims to coordinate and participate in the work of all Catholic women’s organizations in an effort to meet the changing needs of all people. They also aim to serve as a medium through which all Catholic women of the League may speak and act on matters of public interest; establish friendly relations with civic and social societies in the communities in an effort to aid the solutions of religious and social problems; and initiate new and special programs and projects at the request of the bishop. Any Catholic woman may join the League.

The League remains active and there are many exciting opportunities for you to take part in. We have social time for the ladies of each parish to get together and gather information on the many activities and events going on at each parish. We meet every quarter (March, June, September, December) and a different church hosts each quarter. We have a business meeting and then the host church presents a speaker or entertainment followed by a delicious lunch and many fun door prizes. The cost to attend is only $6.00!  We meet the second Tuesday of each quarter.  Registration is at 9:30 a.m.  The meeting starts promptly at 10:30 a.m.
There are 14 churches that represent the CWL:  Barksdale AFB Chapel, Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, Christ the King, Holy Trinity, Mary Queen of Peace, Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament, Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Ann of Stonewall, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Joseph of Manfield, St. Joseph of Shreveport, St. Jude, St. Mary of the Pines and St. Pius X.

Our ministries are wide and varied. Each quarter the Madonna is passed around – the money collected is distributed to Gabriel’s Closet and the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

We continue to collect canceled stamps that are mailed to St. Francis Village in Crowley, TX.  We also continue to collect Campbell’s soup labels (and a few other brands) and these go to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City, NV.

We donate each quarter to the Rescue Mission with canned goods and clothing brought by the ladies.

We look forward to seeing you at our next quarterly meeting in June! For any questions or information on joining, please call Sandy Addison, Catholic Women’s League, 318-929-3766.

By Sandy Addison

Kairos Outside Helps Women with Incarcerated Loved ones

Prison ministry continues to be an ongoing need in North Louisiana, a call that a few priests and lay people are answering. But, just as important, is ministering to the needs of people who have loved ones who are incarcerated. Often overlooked, this group of people often feel singled out, alone, shamed, depressed and confused about their loved one who is locked away.

Fortunately the Kairos Outside program exists to help those women who are struggling with having a loved one incarcerated, or, who were once incarcerated themselves.

Barbara Guillory and Gail Crayton, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, are active members of the Kairos Outside program. The main ministry of Kairos Outiside are weekend retreats that are held twice a year  – once in the spring and once in the fall, open to women who are 20 and older who have a loved one incarcerated. They like to keep the details of the weekend retreats a secret for the women who attend, but the overarching goal of the retreats is to provide a safe place for these women to feel accepted, loved and to rediscover God’s grace.

“It’s a whole weekend that lets them relax from having to take care of everybody,” said Gail. During the retreats the women are pampered with food and love, and hear talks about issues they face as women who have been affected by incarceration. The program is Christian based and non-denominational. Everything discussed is confidential.

“It’s a life transforming thing because you push down that pain because we’re women and we’re strong and we pick up ourselves and put on a smile and say we’re fine. And you don’t know how to let some of that out. So this retreat is a place where you can let that out in a safe place and you’re not judged,” said Gail.

“The goal of all our programs is to provide a safe environment and show the love of Christ to people who may not feel love and some of the unlovable people,” added Barbara. It really changes their life. It makes them realize that they are worthy. So many of them have never felt the love of God in their lives. And that’s what it’s all about to show them that someone loves them, someone cares about them.”

Both Gail and Barbara got involved with Kairos Outside because they have loved ones who have been incarcerated. In fact, both Barbara and Gail learned about the program through their loved ones who participated in the Kairos Inside program.

After the prisoners complete their Kairos Inside program, they often encourage their loved ones to attend a Kairos Outside retreat.
“Men in prison can’t give their loved ones anything because they don’t have anything to give, but this weekend is a gift that they can give that far out gives anything physical they can give,” said Barbara.

The Kairos program is always looking for many different avenues of support. You do not have to have been through the program to participate in a retreat, but if you have not been through a retreat weekend, you will likely be paired with a mentor. They are always in need of musicians, as music is a big part of the program, and they also need women to sit in the background and serve as spiritual directors when needed.

The Kairos programs are non-profit and provided free to anyone who wants to attend. The actual cost of a Kairos retreat weekend is around $10,000 and is funded by donations from retreat leaders, their churches, area businesses and organizations.

To participate in a Kairos Outside weekend retreat, call Gail (318-268-1508) or Barbara (318-272-207), pick up a pamphlet at your church or visit

“It’s a life changing experience whether you know someone incarcerated or not. To be able to give these women hope and show them love that Jesus wants us to show as humans on this earth is an experience that you’ll never forget and it grows you. You can’t out give God, and the more you try to help his children, the more He blesses you,” said Barbara.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Annual Red Mass to Honor Legal Professionals

The Red Mass Society is honored to have Bishop Michael G. Duca as the principal celebrant and deliver the homily at this year’s Red Mass.

The Red Mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Church in Shreveport on May 2 at 9:00 a.m. A votive mass offered to invoke the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude, the Red Mass is sponsored annually by the Diocese of Shreveport and the Red Mass Society under the auspices of the Shreveport Bar Association.

The Red Mass is celebrated throughout the world. It is generally held at the beginning of the judicial year, but in Shreveport it is often celebrated during Law Week. Judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers and public officials of all faiths, and the public at large, participate in the Red Mass. Its primary purpose is to ask for God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice. The tradition of the Red Mass dates back to the 13th Century in Europe. It is called “Red Mass” for the color of the vestments worn by the celebrants of the Mass which symbolize tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit.

This year the Red Mass will honor Cara Center and Gingerbread House in recognition of their service to abused children in our community since 1988.

All lawyers and non-lawyers are most welcome and encouraged to attend the Red Mass.

Music provided by the Zion Baptist Church Choir and St. Cecelia Choral Society begins at 8:30 a.m.

by Bill Fleming

Revived Catholic Campus Ministry at Centenary

On the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificiate on March 13, Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Church Vocations, offered Mass at Centenary College commemorating Pope Francis’ anniversary. Although the numbers were small it was a great “new” beginning for Catholic Campus Ministry at Centenary College in Shreveport.

The last line of the Gospel for March 13 from Matthew 7:12, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you…” is often referred to as the Golden Rule. What we want to do with Campus Ministry at Centenary is bring the students to the Gospel and bring the Gospel to the students. We want, as Pope Francis said, to reach out, evangelize and share our talents and our time with the students. We want to make students “disciples of Christ.”  We want to “teach them all that we have been commanded to do.” There are over 100 students at Centenary College who listed Catholic as a religious preference; we want an opportunity to minister to these students as well as other students at Centenary who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Church. What better way to do this than to offer the students food for the soul and the body and fellowship?

Canterbury House generously and ecumenically offered us the opportunity to come together to celebrate Mass in their location across from Centenary’s campus. Dr. Peter Huff, faculty advisor, joined us as we enjoyed a dinner.

The students who attended were excited about the Catholic presence on their campus and looked forward to inviting their friends to the next scheduled event. Centenary Catholic Campus Ministry wants to build a strong base and eventually have regularly scheduled Mass, dinners, events with speakers and retreats and be present at registration and other campus events. We want to build fellowship and a sense of belonging by having events on campus that give each student an opportunity to profess their faith, gather for food and fun and share fellowship.

Reverend Peter Mangum, Rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, is the Catholic Chaplain of Centenary Campus Ministry.
So come one, come all!  Get in touch with Megan Funk at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, ( or phone 318-221-5296) and give her your contact information so we can keep you informed as plans are made for future events.

by Randy G. Tiller, Acting Director Diocesan Department of Youth, Campus Ministry and Young Adults

Catholic Charities: Feeling Hopeless in Poverty

This morning I grabbed the paper and settled inside to enjoy a cup of coffee with breakfast.  I often grab lunch at a local restaurant with a friend during my work day and after work head home to my comfortable surroundings for a safe, relaxing evening with family. Now, let’s follow Chantel for a day. Chantel awakens at 5:00 a.m. so she will have time to get her three children ready for school, ride the bus and drop them off at a friend’s house, praying that the friend will safely deliver her children to school because Chantel’s first job for the day begins at 7:00 a.m. She struggles to get the children to the friend’s house in time to catch another bus and make it to the fast food shop to begin cleaning and performing all she must before leaving for her second job.

Chantel doesn’t have time to take a lunch break before arriving at the home of the elderly woman she sits for in the afternoon. Her next bus trip takes her to the downtown building where she will clean offices until late in the evening. When she leaves her third job, she may stop at the fast food store near her stop to pick up dinner for herself and her kids. She must depend on her sister to gather her children from school in the afternoon and bring them home just before Chantel arrives around 8:00 p.m.

It’s a long, hard day and there is little if any relief for Chantel who, even with three jobs, still is unable to provide everything her children need.  There’s the problem of not enough food to last through the month, the extra costs for school projects and supplies, not to mention clothing and shoes for her growing brood and the thing that causes sleepless nights for her, not enough money to keep up with all the bills.

Exhausted, afraid and with nowhere else to turn, Chantel came to Catholic Charities. We were able to help with past-due rent, with completing an application for SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and got her into our financial education class to show her a better way.

The reality is this. Being poor means feeling hopeless and helpless. It means only being able to focus on the immediate issues. It is time consuming to be poor. It’s stressful and frightening constantly worrying about the rent, the utilities and how to have enough food. Survival is difficult. There is constant unrelenting struggle with no let up.  Poverty is dehumanizing.

You can see that your donation to Catholic Charities makes a life-changing difference for those who, like Chantel, come to our door in such desperation. You change a life every time you give your time, your talents, your treasure. It matters to each of them and it matters to you for your life will be changed as well.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

Chrism Mass Explained

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

Chrism Mass is held during Holy Week in every Catholic diocese.  The celebration of Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans is the largest diocesan liturgy and highpoint of the diocesan liturgical year.  Bishop Michael Duca presides, surrounded by his priests and deacons, and his flock who are all the faithful of the diocese.  This is the preeminent manifestation of the local Church.  Bishop Duca blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism, and these holy oils are distributed to all the parishes and Catholic hospitals in the diocese.

In ancient Greece and Rome oil was used by athletes to limber up muscles.  Oil was believed to bring strength and protection.  Oil was also used for its healing properties, as the Good Samaritan poured oil into the wounds of the injured man, Luke 10:34.  Oil was poured on the head as a sign of belonging, for example, in the initiation of Roman soldiers.  In the Old Testament oil was used to consecrate altars, sacred places and sacred vessels, as well as to anoint priests.  Prophets were also considered anointed by God’s Spirit to speak powerfully and with authority in God’s name.  Kings were anointed to rule God’s people.  Anointing was also a sign of God’s strength, favor, and a sign of the joy of being God’s servant, as in Psalm 45:8:  “God your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness…”  Oil was an important ingredient in preparing the food that kept people alive.  Oil was poured over the head of guests as a sign of welcome.

The biblical word for one who was anointed was “messiah.”  Translated into Greek, the language of the New Testament, messiah becomes Christos, or Christ.  When we call Jesus our Messiah, we are saying that he was anointed by God to announce God’s word—the Good News of salvation—to God’s people.  In Luke, Jesus says:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” Luke 4:18.

Baptism makes us Christians, that is, anointed ones who share in the life of the crucified and risen Jesus, God’s anointed one.  Immediately before being baptized with water, we are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, which strengthens and purifies us.  After baptism with water, we are anointed with the Sacred Chrism which consecrates us as members of Christ’s body who share in Jesus’ anointing as priest, prophet and king. This anointing with Sacred Chrism gives us the Holy Spirit’s strength to live out our baptism.  Anointing with Sacred Chrism at Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism, and seals us with the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s gifts.

The Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick are blessed; Sacred Chrism is consecrated. Only the bishop may consecrate Sacred Chrism. When these oils are used to anoint people in the sacraments, they are symbolic of Bishop Duca’s presence, even though he cannot be present at every Baptism, or Confirmation or Anointing of the Sick.

The blessing of oils is an extremely ancient tradition in the Church, as attested to in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus around 250 AD.  In the early church, bishops consecrated the chrism at the Easter Vigil when catechumens were baptized, blessing the other oils at the same time.  As the church grew, eventually blessing of the oils moved to the Holy Thursday evening celebration to allow time to distribute the oils from the cathedral to the parishes.  For over a millennium bishops blessed oils at this Holy Thursday liturgy.  In 1955, with Pope Pius XII’s reform of Holy Week, a separate Mass of Chrism was added to Holy Thursday earlier in the day.  “If, however, it is difficult for the clergy and people to assemble at this time, the blessing may be transferred to an earlier day, but as close to Easter as possible.”  This is done in our diocese:  Chrism Mass is celebrated in the evening on Tuesday of Holy Week.  At the end of Chrism Mass, the Holy Oils are brought back to the parishes of the diocese for use in the coming year.

All of the oils are olive oil.  The Oil of Catechumens is used at Baptism to strengthen and purify catechumens before baptizing in water.  The Oil of the Sick is used in Anointing of the Sick to bring the strengthening and healing power of Christ.  Sacred Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and fragrant balsam.  Balsam is an oily, resinous and fragrant substance from plants.  It symbolizes an innocent life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Since Sacred Chrism consecrates and enables us to live out the call to follow Jesus the Christ (the anointed one), it is used:

•  In Baptism to anoint the newly baptized on the crown of the head.
• At Confirmation when the bishop anoints the forehead of the confirmand.
• In Holy Orders when the bishop anoints the hands of the candidate to the priesthood; the bishop anoints the head of a priest being consecrated a bishop.
• To consecrate the altar and anoint the walls in the dedication ceremony of a church.

The bishop mixes the balsam into the oil for Sacred Chrism and breathes over the open vessel in the sign of the cross.  This is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who blew over the face of the waters before creation (Gen 1:2b), and of the risen Jesus, who appeared to his disciples and breathed on them saying “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (John 20:22-23).  It is the Holy Spirit who consecrates this oil through the bishop’s invocation.

The large urns for the holy oils and the small bottles that transport the oils back to the  parishes bear the initials of their Latin names:

OS    Oleum Sanctum        Oil of Catechumens
OI    Oleum Infirmorum    Oil of the Sick
SC    Sanctum Chrisma        Sacred Chrism

The holy oils are presented to and received by the local parish community with the rite Reception of the Holy Oils.  The reception of the holy oils may take place before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday or on another day after the celebration of Chrism Mass.  The holy oils, in suitable vessels, are carried in procession by members of the assembly.  The oils are received by the priest and are then placed on a suitably prepared table in the sanctuary or in the repository where they will be reserved.  The holy oils are kept in a special glass cabinet called an ambry, usually located close to the baptismal font.  It reminds all who see it of the anointing which unites and strengthens us to live as one body in Christ, and comes to us through the ministry of his Church.

Holy oils are kept in a special glass cabinet called the ambry.

Pope Paul VI added acknowledgment of the ministry of priests to Chrism Mass, highlighting Chrism Mass as a manifestation of the priests’ communion with the bishop.  Standing before the bishop, priests renew their commitment to priestly service, promising fidelity in fulfilling their office in the Church.

Chrism Mass is a celebration of the entire Christian community:
• a community that gathers around Bishop Duca as one body made up of many parts, with Christ as its head,
• a community whose oneness comes from its union with the crucified and risen Jesus—God’s anointed one—through Baptism,
• a community that shares in the riches and consolation of Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit through the sacramental ministry of its Bishop and priests.

Enter more fully into Holy Week and the liturgical life of the diocese by participating in the celebration of Chrism Mass on: Tuesday, April 15  at 6:00 p.m.  at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. A reception follows Chrism Mass in the Multi Room of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.