Monthly Archives: January 2015

2015 Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

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As you can tell from his column in last month’s issue of the Catholic Connection, the coming year will be one of transitional challenge for the people of our diocese. Bishop Duca will be conducting planning and listening sessions designed to help lead our combined faith community into the future. One thing that will not change will be the existence of our Annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal and the critical role it plays in weaving a beautiful fabric of generosity that helps define who we are as Catholics in the Diocese of Shreveport.

For the coming year, the largest Appeal allocations will be care for our retired priests and replacing those men with seminarians poised to become our new ordained leadership of the future. “We provide expert medical care to our older priests and that is costly,” comments Bishop Michael G. Duca. “But I have no doubt that this is the right thing for our Appeal to provide to these men who have given so much to sustain the life of the Church in our diocese.”

When discussing our vocations program Bishop Duca is hopeful: “We have good men in our seminarian program and we are starting to experience ordinations again in this diocese. That is inspiring to our people and our priests who stretch themselves to minister to our needs throughout the diocese.  I certainly see Appeal support of our ministry of vocations as critical.”

Religious education of our youth and young adults is another area that will see intense Appeal support in the months ahead. “Catholic education should be a priority among our parents of this diocese because we have an excellent Catholic school system in place to meet the educational needs of our families.” As Bishop Duca reminded us in last month’s issue, “Our religious education programs for both young and old need a new model for catechesis that blends prayer and learning and our Appeal will assist in providing that.”

In the area of charitable endeavors and outreach, our Appeal provides funding to established providers for the poor like Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Bishop Duca touched on this in January when he wrote, “I have witnessed the people of our diocese engaged in charitable work in a variety of ways and it is very inspirational to me and I pray our Appeal support of these programs will place these good works more at the center of our mission and make it part of our everyday life.”

The Appeal also provides for a host of other programs that accomplish real good for the people of our diocese. The success of these initiatives also brings pride to our chief shepherd: “There are components of our Appeal that for years have done great work for our diocesan Church,” said Bishop Duca.  “While I cannot touch on them all I must mention our bright and active Hispanic ministry that reaches young and old alike, our publication, the Catholic Connection, is award-winning and brings me consistent positive feedback from our people and even my brother bishops.  We have a successful diaconate program that allowed me the privilege of ordaining 16 men last year and an excellent Office of Worship to coordinate our liturgical celebrations.”

All this and more is what our Appeal provides for the people of our diocese: some 40,000 Catholics who worship at approximately 38 locations within 16 civil parishes, encompassing over 14,000 square miles. This is the demographic of an Annual Appeal that has been serving the diocese since its inception. Many who read this publication have been Appeal donors for over 20 years and helped last year’s Appeal to be extremely successful. Thank you!  If you have yet to participate in this annual effort, please prayerfully consider doing so. A copy of this year’s pledge card can be found on page 22 of this issue.
“Our people are so generous,” said Bishop Duca.  “Nothing would bring me greater joy than to see a larger percentage of our families making a pledge to our Appeal. It does so much for our diocese and for people in need. May God bless the new Appeal donors we hope to welcome to our giving family, and may His richest blessings be upon the people of this diocese.”

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship & Development

Meet Kevin Prevou: New DIrector of Campus, Youth & Young Adult Ministries

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It is with great excitement that the Diocese of Shreveport announces the hiring of Kevin Prevou as the new Director of Campus, Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Kevin comes with 33 years of experience –14 years in parish youth ministry and 19 years in diocesan youth ministry – working in San Antonio, Houston and, most recently, Ft. Worth, TX. He has a Master’s degree in Religious Education from St. Thomas University in Houston.

While the dioceses of Ft. Worth and Shreveport are very different in size, the two, said Kevin, share some important features, including many rural and small mission communities. “I was out in rural areas all the time doing trainings, helping folks get their youth ministries going – whatever they needed,” said Kevin. “The bishop at that time said ‘Get out there and serve the people, give them what they need.’ And I’m hearing a similar message here, certainly when I met with Bishop Duca. He wants to make sure the communities out there are served so they can develop vibrant ministry with young people.”

Kevin believes that young people are crucial to the life of any lively parish. “If you could have a great parish without having young people really involved in the life, mission and work of the Church, then I’d go do something else. But I just haven’t seen it,” said Kevin. “The really exciting churches are those churches where young people are invited into all aspects of the church. They’re not seen as ‘what are we going to do with those kids,’ they’re seen as an asset to the parish and part of the life of ministry of that parish.”

To help build that momentum of youth involvement, Kevin believes it’s important to work with the people already serving in youth ministry locally. He counts one of his personal strengths as being able to explain the processes and “why’s” behind procedures and policies to help each church build up their youth communities.

Kevin is very excited to be working for the Diocese of Shreveport.  “This just seemed like a place with a great spirit. Then coming and interviewing here for the position, I just felt like, wow, these folks are enjoying coming into the office and they’re really focused on their ministry. And that’s what I really love to do,” he said.

Randy Tiller, Director of Mission Effectiveness and part of the hiring committee, echoes Kevin’s excitement, “Kevin Prevou comes to the diocese with a wealth of knowledge and world of youth ministry experience. As a past diocesan director, he has the maturity and skills to coordinate his ministry with other diocesan departments for the best results. Above all Kevin has faith in today’s youth and their role in the Church of today and the Church of the future.”

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Our Lady of Guadalupe Honored at Christ the King

Ellen presented Our Lady to two of the Council Trustees. L to R: Paul Murray, Doyle Blasingame, Robert Bradeen, Ellen’s husband and current Financial Secretary, Calvin Joyner and Ellen Bradeen.

After the stroke of midnight on December 11, Bishop Michael G. Duca began blessing the large quantities of articles that had been brought into Christ the King parish to start the special services in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Christ the King has a large number of parishioners of Mexican heritage who annually start the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe by bringing in their important religious items consisting of statues, pictures, candles and other memorabilia, to be blessed on her special feast day. After the blessing the items are returned to their homes and prominently displayed to honor Our Lady throughout the year.
This year something very special happened: word was that Bishop Duca was planning to attend. The church was filled to the rafters for this special midnight service.

There was also another notable addition. Nearly four years ago, a very talented lady, Ellen Bradeen, was asked if she would create a “counted cross-stitch” creation to replace a beautiful picture that the Knights of Columbus Bossier Council #4873 had mounted in the prayer garden behind the Council home. That picture had, over the years, become very sun-faded and needed to be replaced, but, this time it would be properly framed and mounted inside the Council home. Ellen came in and, after reviewing several pictures, chose one and indicated that she would do her best to replace it.

After years in the making and with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe quickly approaching, I received a phone call from Ellen advising me that she had finished her labor of love, and requested that her husband and I meet with her to select a proper frame for Our Lady. We found the right one and the frame shop had it ready for the Midnight Celebration welcoming in the feast day.
I had the honor of taking a Masterpiece of Love, a most beautiful counted cross-stitch of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to Christ the King that Thursday evening, along with District Marshall Calvin Joyner, and held it while Bishop Duca gave his special blessing to it. All in attendance were invited to come forward to view and or have pictures taken with the portrait with their children or whole families.

by David Bodden

Catholic Charities: The Key to Change is Education

Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. – Matt. 25:40

When we engage with those who come to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana seeking help, one of the first things we do is make them feel welcome, let them know we respect them and are here to walk with them through any crisis they may be facing. We take seriously what we learn from Matthew 25. It is our credo that we live by every day.

For most of us, beginning a new year renews us with hope that we can accomplish our goals and perhaps, begin afresh. Our desire is to put away old, bad habits and replace them with healthy productive new ones. We see a bright new beginning and a future full of the things we most desire. It may be hard to consider that those who come in need to Catholic Charities for answers and assistance do not share that hope, not for the new year, not for any time in their recent past and certainly not for the distant future.  Something we don’t realize about the poor is how hard it is just to get from one day to the next.

Imagine being hopeful when you are facing homelessness and you have five children depending on you for all their needs.  You can’t even meet your own, let alone theirs. You aren’t able to provide them with even the bare necessities. Now you have another generation that only knows hopelessness. How can we make a significant difference in that generational cycle of poverty?

Catholic Charities believes the key to any change is education.  We continue to broaden what we teach to help move our clients out of the circumstances that keep them seeking assistance from various agencies.  If your eyes are opened that shopping wisely at the grocery store and preparing meals at home has more than the positive effect of healthier eating and better nutrition for the family, it means they may be able to put a small amount into a savings account for the first time. With that insight, they are more likely to make those positive changes. If they have gone from one quick loan place to another and are now in peril of losing their car, and their transportation to the job they finally got, learning how to avoid predatory lenders is crucial to break the debt cycle.

We hope that you will join us in this effort to move people out of poverty and toward a better, more hopeful life. There are many ways you can take part. You can become a sustaining member by joining our Matthew 25 Partnership, devoting a monthly pledge to the work of Catholic Charities, volunteer for any of our six programs of assistance or perhaps become a greeter who answers the door and makes welcome any who come for help.  Whatever you choose, we will be grateful and will welcome you into our family of those who love to do God’s work.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

St. Frederick Students Work for Good

Many of our churches and schools reach out to the less fortunate during the Christmas season, but it is rare that two young men take it upon themselves to provide for the students of an entire grade at a local, low-income elementary school. Cole Williamson and William Claussen, students at St. Frederick Catholic High School in Monroe, banded together and decided to provide gifts for the 75 second graders at Minnie Ruffin Elementary School in Monroe.

The project was big and the two teenagers weren’t sure where to begin. Fortunately, Cole’s mother knew one of the teachers from the school. “We knew that we wanted to give back, but couldn’t figure out a way to do it. The teacher came to us and said this school could really use some help,” said Cole.

“This is my second time to do this. I did it when I was in eighth grade for one of the other local schools. I really wanted to do it again before my high school career ended,” said Cole. “I asked William if he wanted to help, so he got involved. We went to local businesses and people we all knew and asked for donations. It cost $35 to sponsor a child.”

All 75 second graders were provided with bags of goodies that contained blankets, socks, coloring books, action figures for the boys and fairy wings for the girls. When it came time to deliver the gifts, the boys didn’t shy away from that either.
“If we were going to do it, we thought we’d go all out and dress the part,” said Cole.  The boys donned Santa and Elf costumes to bring Christmas cheer with their delivery.

“The kids were a lot more excited than I thought they’d be. The look on their faces was priceless,” said Cole.

“Seeing how excited and thankful they were was the real reward,” added William. “They would come up to me and say, ‘Are you really Santa’s elf? Where’s Santa’s reindeer?’”

The second grade class gathered in the school auditorium, where each name was called out. When it was their turn, they got to meet Santa and receive their gift.

The boys were so successful in their fundraising efforts that they had money left over. They used the remainder to buy the whole student body candy and a puzzle,
and the extra $364 was donated to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, which was given to a couple of families in need.
Cole had some advice for any other young people who want to pursue a social outreach activity like this, “Keep trying. It was hard because we’re just two high school students asking people for money. Keep going and keep motivated. Everything was really worth it. All the time we put into it – collecting money, loading bags, buying everything – it was so worth it.”

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

2014 Annual Report

Click to download a view the Annual 2014 Report for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Remembering Father David T. Richter

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by Lori Mainiero

He was my first office-job boss. He confirmed me. He heard my first confession. He married Dom and me. He baptized our first child. He blessed the land on which we built our home. He was the first priest I ever saw drink a beer.

He was part of our family in so many ways that including him in everything from the most special of occasions to the most mundane came naturally. He often attended family holiday gatherings where he witnessed first-hand our wrapping paper mayhem.

I had the privilege of working for Father Dave twice. During my senior year in college I was an office assistant at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish where he was pastor. Later, I worked as his secretary in the Chancery of our diocese where he served as Vicar General. In our second working relationship he asked me only once to take some mail to his apartment which was located on the other side of our office building. Inside his home I confirmed what I had always suspected – that he lived simply and neatly with very little fluff.

Usually serious and pensive, Father Dave had a unique funny side. To this day he is the only priest who has ever shot me with a rubber band. I will never forget the look on his face as he peered around a filing cabinet, professionally wrapped the band over his cocked thumb and took aim.

Father Dave had his favorites, too. He was a staunch fan of the Dallas Cowboys and all things Star Wars. As I stooped to take a book from the bottom shelf in his office one day, I was shocked to find that I was face-to-face with a 12-inch tall Yoda perched on the bookcase. I gave a startled gasp before laughing out loud, only to turn and find Father Dave rocking back in his chair, hands folded across his chest, nodding with a sly grin.

Educated at the Seminary of St. Pius X in Kentucky, Gregorian University in Rome and the University of Dallas, Father Dave’s priestly ministry began with his ordination on June 7, 1986.  He received his Licentiate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America in 2006.  His service to the diocese at large included appointments as Master of Ceremonies to Bishop Friend, Chaplain for Catholic Scouting, Co-Chaplain for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Greco Institute Professor, Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia and Director of Church Vocations. Father Dave is credited with beginning the vocation prayer apostolate and cultivating the vocation culture in our diocese. Father Matthew Long, current Director of Church Vocations, states gratefully, “The current success the vocations program is experiencing can be directly attributed to the foundation laid by Fr. Richter as Vocations Director.”

He was loved by parishioners across the diocese, especially at the churches he pastored: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Shreveport, St. Joseph Parish in Zwolle, and Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe.

He was soft-spoken and witty, and he gave great consideration to his words before he spoke them. He was kind and hard-working, gentle and good, quiet and reserved. He was far too young and his leaving came far too soon.

Preceded in death by his parents Harold Richter in 2013, and his mother, Margaret Richter just three days before his own passing, we continue to pray for Fr. David, his mother and all the family members he leaves behind.

To echo the words of the little green Jedi master: “Soon will I rest, yes, forever sleep.  Earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall…Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.”

Oh, Yoda, if only it were that easy.

Book Review: Being on Fire: The Top Ten Essentials of Catholic Faith by Fr. Richard Malloy

by Diane Haag Libro

Who doesn’t love a top 10 list? Colleges, sports plays of the day, ways to save money at the grocery store. They promise succinct nuggets of information and automatically generate thought – Why was that included? What’s my connection with the things on the list?

So as we approach Lent and start to think about the basics of our faith, Fr. Richard Malloy’s Being on Fire: The Top Ten Essentials of Catholic Faith had promise as a way to channel my thoughts on 10 things that really matter.
Malloy succeeded in generating thought.

A Jesuit professor at the University of Scranton, PA, Malloy aimed the book at young adults who are searching for meaning and purpose. Through these 10 essentials, he hopes they find a new fire that will transform their lives.

In keeping with his audience, he takes a largely conversational tone. Malloy gets that we’re not perfect (in fact, that’s one of the essentials) and we have to keep making a good faith effort in terms of our relationship with God.

In Essential No. 2 about how God constantly speaks to us through His creation, he leads an excellent discussion of prayer and the trouble many of us have with this central practice of faith. It is not necessarily a lack of faith that makes prayer difficult, he argues, but fear of an actual response.

“Prayer is a risk because the God who calls us to conversion and transformation takes us up on the invitation to get involved in our lives. And when that happens, the adventure begins.”

Malloy’s biggest strength is in his storytelling. He has plenty of quotes and support from popes and theologians for authority, but the chapters are full of personal anecdotes and jokes that put complex theory into easily understandable terms.

My favorite is his story of his own first confession. “On hearing that we could be forgiven for anything and everything, I was stunned. This was the best deal I’d ever heard of.” After confessing he did a million of this and three million of that, he leaves the confessional with the priest laughing and at peace with his clean slate. It proves that honesty and humility are rewarded.
The flip side of his stories is often the length and the quantity. He frequently spirals into tangents, sometimes insightful and sometimes superfluous or even overly-politicized.

Malloy also addresses some difficult issues head on, such as the sexual abuse scandal and the infighting between “liberals” and “conservatives.” His fearlessness is to be commended, especially since his Millennial audience particularly values authenticity and disdains anything that seems to be a public relations ploy.

But here I found the major fault of the book. Malloy raises several real challenges to faith, but he offers little practical advice on how to grapple with the problems.

He talks about the political divisions in the church, but makes no attempt to offer a third way to address our differences. At best, he repeats tired platitudes about working together instead of against each other.

And in the chapter on social justice, he raises the valid and difficult issue of income inequality and the fact that about 33 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. He calls the reader to solidarity, but offers nothing in the way of practical suggestions. He could have highlighted those corporations who are managing to both make money and contribute to the social good and pointed out ethical business practices.

Despite the tangents, anyone incorporating Malloy’s basic list into their lives will sense the fire of faith. He closes with the reminder that we have reason to smile. If we are open to it, God gives us the gift of faith and with that we find happiness, wholeness and freedom.

Sounds like the No. 1 essential to me.

Being on Fire: The Top Ten Essentials of Catholic Faith can be found in Slattery Library at the Catholic Center, as well as Amazon.com.

Domestic Church: Looking for Passion in the Right Places

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I relish in St. Valentine’s Day – my favorite non-Christmas holiday the whole year long. It’s a spark of warmth in winter’s chill; a day culturally dedicated to romance. So much so that the secular push for love lasts all month, but the common understanding of romantic passion has unfortunately been so twisted that the truth behind it seems a stark contrast. While many see an illusive love and despair that their marriages will ever blaze with that kind of fire, the truth is that the thrill of genuine romantic passion is easily within reach. I think now is the perfect time for a little clarification, time to put words to the feeling of passion, and time to have hope that a marriage of any number of years can overflow with it without succumbing to worldly ideas.
The secular approach to romantic passion is self-seeking, involving another person to achieve a certain kind of pleasure whether it be a physical or emotional high. So many think that you have to turn to steamy books and movies to find some sort of rapturous love, when really all that’s there is pleasure for the sake of pleasure. It’s this idea that is so deeply instilled in the culture that real passion is almost unrecognizable, so here it is: The whole point of genuine romantic passion is delighting in another’s being – spiritually and physically.  It’s being captivated by who they are and drawing happiness simply because they exist; it’s loving them to the point of devotion – a readiness to share and serve, and an eager abandonment of self for the good of the other. A love like this has 10 times the passion anything the world will offer, and if you don’t believe me, crack open your Bible to Song of Solomon; it’s within these pages that all-consuming fire and passion can be found.

Contrary to popular belief, marriage can overflow with romantic passion regardless if you’ve been together five months or five decades, exuding that iconic bliss from the wedding day. While it’s true that our marriages began with a sweet pursuit, it’s an at times disappointing fact that the pursuit dwindles. We tire from careers, houses, kids and time, which deplete thoughts and energy for wooing each other. The good news is that dwindled or even lifeless romance doesn’t have to mean dead and gone. It might not seem immediately obvious, but the best places to light a spark of passion in marriage are in conversation and small deeds of love and devotion. Go outside of yourself to recognize the needs and desires of your spouse’s heart, then help achieve them. The act of pursuit isn’t an effortless activity – it takes work of the will and concentration from both sides, and sometimes you have to help each other out a little. It takes communication and knowing each other intimately so you can meet each other’s needs. Wives, take the time to romance your husbands this way;  and dear husbands, give your wife the thrill of pursuit again. Show your beloved that they have your time and respect, and your mutual delight will create an umbrella effect over the rest of your marriage.

Katie Sciba is the author of thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and four children, Liam,Thomas, Peter and Jane.

Catholic Food: Rooted in Love

by Kim Long

When I was a child, my two siblings, parents and I lived in a small “FHA” house with three tiny bedrooms, one bathroom and a small dining “area.” We were stuffed in those four walls along with books, toys, clothes – all the normal possessions of life. My mother owned a piece of furniture which she called a buffet, but was really a dresser or a Welsh dresser with a place for plates, silverware and linens. It was this piece of furniture I wanted all my life, for it seemed to me an anchor. Years ago my mother gave it to me along with the other pieces which accompanied it: a dining table whose leaves were lost years ago and a china cabinet. I felt like I was bringing all the good experiences we shared in that little house home with me. It was a touchstone, a visible reminder of being grounded in my mother’s desire for family, in love, and in faith.

Every Monday night my children come home for “family night” to eat a favorite dish, to bring their friends and girlfriends home. This shared time echoes our Eucharistic celebration. It feels good, nourishing and sustaining to gather, give one another our respective days and to eat. It helps me feel grounded, rooted in family, love, faith and in troubling times and situations it has sustained me – another touchstone.

Sometimes when I hear the phrases, “rooted in love” or “grounded in faith,” they can conjure up a negative image of a person who doesn’t occupy my reality of scraped emotional knees! We have, like everyone, had lots of ups and downs, but we return to the family, to the love, to the faith, to the table to be sustained and nourished. With Valentine’s Day hard on our heels, this is a reminder for me that love really can endure all things. Note that scripture doesn’t say love endures only pleasant things or happy times, but ALL things. I sometimes read what I think the words say rather than what is written.

So tonight, rather than preparing a rich dessert (which I shall surely do soon for Valentine treats), I pay homage to the more practical side of the endurance of love and family by preparing a roasted root vegetable soup. As I peeled and quartered the vegetables, I thought of my children, the souls of my faithful departed and my friends and realized that my treasure really is where my heart lies. I hope that in this month of chocolate and flowers and throat blessings that you enjoy all good things and know life isn’t always smooth sailing. My prayer for all of us is that we remember that love endures!

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:
• 1 Irish potato          • Olive oil
• 1 sweet potato          • Salt & pepper
• 1 small beet          • 8oz chicken or
• 1 red onion             veggie broth
• 4 carrots

Directions:
1) Peel and cut the potatoes, beet, carrots and onion into chunks. Set aside.

2)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables on baking sheet and toss with good olive oil making sure to coat each piece. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Cover with foil and put into oven. Stir about every 10 minutes so the vegetables doesn’t burn. When tender remove from oven and let cool slightly (about five minutes, these veggies are really warm!)

3) Dump veggies into a food processor or a blender. Add 8 ounces of chicken or vegetable broth and blend. You can adjust the amount of liquid to your taste adding more or less depending on the thickness you desire.

Delicious with cheese toast or French bread and a salad!
PLEASE NOTE: I used what I had on hand, feel free to vary the vegetables to your own tastes. I would only use one beet since they are very sweet!