Monthly Archives: May 2015

U.S. Bishops To Meet June 10-12 in St. Louis, Hear Presentations on Synod, Family, Strategic Plan, Encyclical Themes

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for their annual Spring General Assembly, June 10-12, in St. Louis. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president, will present a summary to the bishops on the consultation of U.S. dioceses for the 2015 Synod on the Family. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., will give an update on the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which Pope Francis will attend on his September Apostolic Journey to the United States.

Alice and Jeffrey Heinzen of the Diocee of La Crosse, WI, will give one of three presentations by married couples on marriage and family. The Heinzens were observers to the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family. The other presenters are Lucia and Ricardo Luzondo, directors of Hispanic Outreach for Marriage Builders, and Claire and John Grabowski, Ph.D., members of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Curtis Martin, founder and CEO of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will speak on messaging the Gospel to young people.

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications, will unveil new digital resources available to U.S. bishops and dioceses. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, will lead a discussion on themes associated with the anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis on ecology. Archbishop Wenski will also give an update on a planned 2017 convocation by the Bishops’ Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, will present on the Conference’s marriage policy efforts ahead of the anticipated decision by the U.S Supreme Court. Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, MSpS, of Seattle will give an update on USCCB’s ongoing work in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Bishop Elizondo, who chairs the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and the Committee on Migration, will join Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California, for an update on immigration reform.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houson, USCCB vice president, will provide an update on the work to update the bishops’ quadrennial statement on political responsibility, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the bishops’ liaison to World Youth Day, will give an update on World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, will report on the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Summit, to be held in St. Louis ahead of the bishops’ meeting.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, USCCB secretary and chairman of the Committee on Priorities and Plans, along with Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, secretary-elect, will lead a discussion on feedback on the bishops’ recommended priorities for the 2017-2020 planning cycle. The bishops will vote on the strategic priorities for the next planning cycle.

The bishops will also debate and vote on revised Canticles for the Liturgy of the Hours for use in U.S. dioceses and whether to seek renewal of a five-year recognitio from the Vatican for the Program of Priestly Formation, Fifth Edition.

Reflection: Senior Season

I have been writing articles for many years now, and all the while, I grow older and constantly try to live each new aging moment with grace. Yet I know sometimes it is difficult to find God in aging, like when we have a heart attack, find out that we have cancer or break a hip.

We must remain open-minded to the mysterious ways of God working in our lives, because aging is filled with mystery and wonder. Clear all the roadblocks so your path may be empty of the obstacles that pop up here and there. Growing older is a mystery because often, we are unable to understand all the things that happen to us. If we can keep moving our bodies, minds, spirits and souls away from the past and move them into the future with faith and trust all will be well with God and us.

We would like to stop time, but we have no power over it. I’ve heard aging called  “The Great Liberator,” which simply means that oldsters simply care less what others think about them. However, what we think as we age is what’s so important. Pope Francis said, “Old people are transmitters of a story; they bring us memories, the memories of a people, of a nation, of a family, of a culture and of a religion.” The legacy we leave is up to us.

Eleanor Roosevelt  said, “When you cease to make a contribution as you age, you begin to die.”  Do you have new expectations for yourself? What else to do but live the present with passion? We will live into the future as long as God permits us. Continue to be a creative person and embrace your future with hope.

How do we open the doors to the future during a celebration of aging? Is it possible to realize the beauty, passion and wonder aging constantly places before us? All we need to do is keep our hands and hearts ready to accept it. Why should we spend all our aging moments in tears and sorrow? Why is it so difficult to see Gods blessings in all this? We should get in touch with our hearts and move much deeper into the recesses of our souls.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser says we spend 98 percent of our lives waiting for something else to happen to us. We need to ask God to give new meaning to our lives as each day passes instead of waiting. We are destined for much more than our lives can give us now.

Pope Francis is waking us up and calling us to task. Transforming the Catholic Church has been the hallmark of his two-year papacy. This calls us to spread joy as we go about our daily activities. He also calls us to authenticity, to a new hope, to a new Christianity of aging and to step out into something new and different. Let us step out in faith together as we appreciate growing older with Gods graces. The quality of your aging should be your delight. Our season of old age is here and what really matters is what we do with it today.

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Reflection: Holy Tears

When a child is delivered from her mother’s womb, she sheds tears of joy, for she is alive! When a child grows up, a mother sheds tears of pain and suffering. If a dad does not have a job, he sheds tears of burden when he is not able to feed his family. Some parents shed tears of distress when their child takes a wrong path. Every mother and father wants their children to grow in their sight; mothers shed tears of joy, love and happiness when their children succeed in school, college or professional work. At a wedding the groom, bride, parents and sometimes the faithful shed tears of love.

Mother Mary shed tears of sorrow when her son was lost in the temple, but those tears turned to joy when she found him in the midst of the elders proclaiming the kingdom of God. She was in tears of anguish when her son was pulled, dragged, whipped, stripped, hit and crucified on Calvary. She shed tears of joy when he was raised from the dead. She sheds tears of sorrow when her spiritual children sin and go away from her son, Jesus Christ. His tears and blood washed us clean and made us adopted children of the Heavenly Father through our Baptism.

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions in the Church, “There are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.” Whenever we go to confession, we shed tears of repentance. When Simon Peter remembered that he denied Jesus three times, he shed tears of repentance. A sinful woman began to wet the feet of Jesus with her tears, wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment.

Many of us shed tears of joy, sorrow, pain, anguish and suffering in our lifetimes, but these tears speak a lot in our lives. St. Monica shed tears for the conversion of her son and her husband. Her tears were non-verbal prayers to God.

My own mother shed tears of grief when my dad died, but she was consoled by God. She shed tears of joy when her two sons became priests to serve God and his people. I shed tears of prayer when I was ordained on June 21, 2014 at St. Mary of the Pines Parish by Bishop Michael G. Duca. My friends, my church family and people who came from near and far shed tears of prayer when I was ordained. Sometimes we cannot express our joy, pain, sorrow and happiness through words; rather, we shed tears of love, hope, faith, prayer and repentance.

Very certainly we shed tears of prayer for all our brothers and sisters who have been killed by ISIS. God hears our tears and soon He will wipe away all our sorrows by his son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus hears the tears deep down from our hearts because he has an open ear to listen to us. The Lord God will wipe away tears from every face of the earth.

  by Fr. John Paul Crispin, FMH

Sr. Margaret Daues Was Pillar of Faith Community

Two objects stood on the credenza in the Shreveport Chancery office of Sister Margaret Daues: a statue of St. Joseph the Worker and a wooden plaque of a mallard with the phrase, “Be like a duck. Stay calm on the surface but paddle furiously underneath.”  Together they characterize the life and ministry of Sr. Margaret:  her strong faith, her joy and commitment to religious life, and her dedication to unceasingly proclaiming the Gospel.

Sr. Margaret, first chancellor of the Diocese of Shreveport, died peacefully in the early morning of April 10, in St. Louis, MO. Sister came to Shreveport in 1983 after completing studies for a doctorate in administration for non-public schools and church leadership at Fordham University in New York. She accepted the position of Vicar for Education for the Diocese of Alexandria-Shreveport. In this role she directed and coordinated the educational ministries of five offices.  Her educational experience in other parts of the country included service as Vicar for Education and superintendent of Catholic schools in Mobile, AL, and principal and teacher in Catholic schools in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Colorado.

In 1986, Sr. Margaret was appointed chancellor of the newly established Diocese of Shreveport. She was the fifth woman in the U.S. to achieve this role. Her many talents were the perfect complement to those of Bishop Friend as they structured and developed the ministries of this new diocese. In addition to authoring policy books, board manuals and pastoral planning materials, Sister was instrumental in creating programs for lay education and working with pastoral councils.

Sr. Margaret served the Diocese of Shreveport for 20 years: 18 as chancellor and a final two as Director of Mission Effectiveness. Upon her retirement, she returned to the St. Louis Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

During her 69 years of ministry, Sr. Margaret received many awards and was involved in numerous organizations. She was especially honored to be chosen in 1985 as a board member of the National Council of Christians and Jews, and, later, to receive the Founders’ Day Award for Church Leadership from Fontbonne College, St. Louis.

On her 50th anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister was asked to reflect on her ministry. She wrote, “I entered the religious order at 17 years of age, following high school graduation. My hope as a young religious was to love God and to help others know how good He is. My entire adult life has been spent in seeking to help our society and myself grow and function as members of God’s family.”

During her life, Sr. Margaret did not view death with sorrow but instead with joy, trusting completely in the promises of Christ. Let us pray in thanksgiving for her ministry in our diocese and consider the words of Matthew, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

by Christine Rivers, Chancellor

Msgr. Edmund Moore Leaves Legacy of Ministry

There are some priests who enter our lives and never seem to depart. They are present for Baptisms, Confirmations, marriages and funerals.  For the faithful of Jesus the Good Shepherd Church, Msgr. Edmund Moore was that priest for so many members.  Nearly every parishioner of Good Shepherd had a connection to Msgr. Moore through one of the sacraments because he was faithfully present to the people of God for so long.  After nearly 60 years of dedicated priesthood, Msgr. Moore departed this life on April 13, and was laid to rest by Bishop Duca and the people of Monroe.

Thus ends a remarkable legacy of ministry to God’s people by a priest who was a dear friend to so many and who would never forget a name once a person made his acquaintance.  He would also remember the names of family members and the maiden name of a persons mother because he was very good at genealogy.  In his own mild-mannered way, Msgr. Moore grew Jesus the Good Shepherd into a vibrant, active parish and school over two decades of serving as Pastor.  He also had a great love for St. Frederick High School and countless generous donations to the various missions of the school are a testament to his passion for Catholic education.

While he was overly generous to the causes he believed in, Msgr. Moore was also famously frugal when it came to Church finances, and his penchant for saving money helped provide the seed funding for Good Shepherd’s present sanctuary to be built at the conclusion of his role as Pastor.  Even with a new worship space and a successful conclusion to his active work as a priest, Msgr. Moore did not slow down much during his retirement years.  He visited the sick, attended Catholic events in the area and was always present at the entrance to Good Shepherd to greet parishioners as they arrived for worship at each and every Mass.  For so long he looked and acted so healthy that he just didn’t seem to age, but everyone knew he was actually getting older.

His smiling face that greeted everyone by name is what so many worshipers will miss.  How he loved the people of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, and it seems only fitting that his wonderful spirit will surely be present in the Narthex of Good Shepherd Church for eternity.

by John Mark Willcox

100% PSR Participation

The Parish School of Religion program at Sacred Heart Parish in Oak Grove has received 100 percent participation by children in the parish the last few years.

Marie Costello, Director of Religious Education, said of the 12 families who have children who are of age to participate in the PSR classes, all attend each week. This year the parish has 19 in the PSR program for children in grades Pre-K through 12th.

“All of our students go until they graduate from high school,” Costello said. “We start in September and go until May.”

In the past, classes took place before the 10:00 Mass on Sunday. However, Costello said the attendance was low during that time. The parish then changed the time of classes to 5:30 for Pre-K through 8th grade and 6:00 for the high school students on Wednesday evenings. This helped to create the 100 percent participation rate.

Costello said parents are another reason for the high attendance.

“The parents are faithful and want to see their children get religious education,” she said. The five teachers who teach the classes are all parents of PSR students.

She said another positive aspect of the program for students is taking part in activities outside of the classroom. “About every quarter we have a youth Mass. The high school students will do the serving and lectoring, and the younger students will usually sing in the choir,” Costello said.

Starting in January, students who will receive their First Communion or First Reconciliation in May prepare during eight weeks of classes. The completion of both these classess end in retreat.

“At the Reconciliation retreat, we have a little skit the high school students do to start off the retreat,” Costello said. “Then we divide the parents and children off into groups to answer questions about what is sin.” The retreat ends with a ceremony right before the children go into the church for their first Reconciliation.

Students make First Communion banners at their retreat that are displayed in the parish hall. There is also a person at the retreat who gives a tour of the church and explains certain areas such as the sacristy and the sanctuary.

Costello said students in the PSR program are allowed to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation when they are in the 8th or 9th grade, and students are encouraged to keep attending after their Confirmation. “Confirmation does not end religious education. They go until they finish high school,” she said.  Graduating seniors are encouraged to get involved in whatever campus ministry they can, she said.

Costello said although Sacred Heart is a small community, they have great participation by families, and even if they have only two students participating, they would do the same thing. “It is not the quantity,” she said. “If we only have one student, we will do it for the one student.”

by Raney Johnson

Sewing for the Future

Most know the story about teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish. It makes perfect sense to us that a lifelong skill that can readily fulfill a need has enormous value, especially as it concerns the multitude of poor people around the world and right here in our own community.

At Catholic Charities, we always teach about a hand up rather than a hand out. We teach financial education through The Money School because when people spend their lives never having enough, never knowing if they will be able to pay for their most basic needs, it is our duty to help them understand a better way to manage whatever income they have and to aspire to something better.

We teach young women who are about to become mothers and those who already are how to safely care for themselves during pregnancy and for their children after birth. It is never enough to help with supplies like diapers, a car seat and a safe bed. Our nurse volunteers teach the safest way to put baby down for sleep time, how to give an infant a bath and much more. The safety concerns for children can be overlooked because of insurmountable stress and crisis. For some, finding a way to earn something, anything, is the first hurdle.

We currently offer sewing classes for those who wish to learn this important skill, one that will help them with more than a garment for their child.  The current class is teaching the group, including immigrants and an unemployed father, to create attractive clothing for little ones that they can then sell for personal profit. They can earn some income and enjoy the work that helps them achieve that goal. There is a great sense of pride and satisfaction for all the students when they first complete a piece.

All the supplies are donated, so there is no cost to the students.  Teacher Donna Collins has a heart for giving more than sewing instructions. It was her idea to find outlets where the students can sell their beautiful projects, like outdoor festivals and markets.  She is invested in them and their success!  And that’s what it is all about at Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, investing in the future for those who haven’t had much hope of one.  Clearly, this may not support an entire family, but it is a great beginning and learning process that teaches many more skills than sewing.

Please pray for these students and for all who come to us with a desire to learn and move forward in their lives.  Your prayers are as important as anything we receive, and we thank you for caring about our clients and the work of Catholic Charities.

by Theresa Mormino

Catholic School Inspires Faithful Life

While reading the “Class of 2014: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood” done for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through Georgetown University, I was excited to learn 50 percent of the diocesan and religious ordinands who responded attended a Catholic elementary school.

It meant a lot to me, because as I reflect on the many parts of my past God used to guide me on my path of discerning the priesthood, attending Catholic school holds a lot of the influence. It was during my time at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Academy in Shreveport when I first started thinking of joining the priesthood.

Although I did not seriously consider discerning the priesthood until my 7th grade year at OLBSA, the seeds were planted as early as second grade.

I do not think my time at Catholic school was similar to the typical Catholic student’s experience, because the majority of the students belonged to a Protestant faith. I remember after making my First Communion in May of my second grade year feeling guilty because my fellow classmates were unable to come up with me to receive communion. However, it also helped me understand the importance of the sacrament and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  I never really found it strange that there were so few Catholics at my school until 5th grade. During this period, I was asked many questions about different parts of the Mass and Catholic teachings. Unable to give an answer most of the time, I encouraged myself to better understand my faith.

As I reflect back on my time at Catholic school, especially the spiritual moments, God reveals to me constantly the aspects of my time there he used to call me to the priesthood. He used Fr. Andre McGrath and the religious priests and brothers of the Franciscan Missionaries of Hope, some of whom actually lived in a house on the school property. God used the Friday Masses and the morning devotions. He also used the Sisters of the Holy Family who came to the school after Hurricane Katrina, and it was one of those sisters who first invited me to consider the priesthood.

Catholic, Protestant or any other religious belief, I wish sending a child to Catholic school is something every parent could experience, even if they could only do it for one year. There is something different about attending a private school, especially a Catholic one. At Catholic school, I was able to attend Mass every Friday, discuss spirituality openly in religion class and live in a truly ecumenical environment. I realize now a Catholic school can act as both a place for instruction in the faith for young Catholics and a way to introduce the faith to non-Catholics. I enjoyed my time attending a public high school and university, but after nine years, I am happy to return to Catholic school when I attend seminary in the fall.

by Raney Johnson, Seminarian

Youth “Unplugs” for Ministry

On August 8, 22-year-old Olivia Landry is going unplugged. And in order to do that, she is practicing turning off and tuning out. It’s part of her year long service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), which provides volunteers to work with people who are poor and marginalized both domestically and overseas.

“I’m spending more and more time away from my cell phone.  Now, I turn on ‘do not disturb’ automatically at 10:00,” she said, via cell phone from Ruston, where she is set to graduate with a degree in Family and Child Studies from Louisiana Tech University.

By the end of the summer, Olivia will join other JVC volunteers for a week-long retreat in California. From there, they will head to their posts where they will be assigned four people to a house in the communities they’ll be serving. They won’t have TV or wifi.

“They’re living among the folks they’re serving so they’re learning about those communities and what those people deal with,” said Kelly Gibbons, JVC Program Coordinator.  “It makes you dependent on the people you’re living with. They’ll have communal budgeting and they’ll share meal costs.”
Gibbons admitted there are challenges with the living situation.  “We ask our volunteers to go deeper so they can get to know each other and their communities on a deeper level,” she said.

“I’m super excited,” said Olivia.  The Shreveport native will work as a program aid in early childhood development at the Pio Decimo Center in Tucson, AZ.  “I never thought I’d ever do anything mission-based. I had to decide what I wanted to do, like teaching, getting my Masters degree or going to law school, and this was perfect.”

Olivia certainly had plenty of time to think about signing up.  Her father began sending her JVC information her freshman year in college. “Olivia is the perfect fit for this ministry,” said her father Brian Landry, who learned about the program at a spiritual retreat in Manresa. “St. Paul told the Corinthians, ‘Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. Olivia is love.  It is the single most important trait that marks her life.”

Olivia, whose family includes dad Brian, mom Denise and brothers Brian, 19, and Adam, 14, said she is most afraid of being away from her family.  “I mean, I went an hour away from family to college,” she laughed. “My mom is already asking me if she can order a pizza and have it delivered to our house in Tucson.”

“It will be hard for Olivia to be so far away and not just down the road like Ruston,” said her mom, Denise.  “I hope what she learns from the program is strength, both as an independent woman and in her faith.”  Already, Denise is planning a family Thanksgiving trip to Arizona.

As for Olivia, being a part of the JVC community is definitely a leap of faith.  “I learned from my parents,” she said.  “They always guided me to helping others.”

by Bonny Van

Deacons Reflect on First Year Anniversary

by Deacon Mike Whitehead

We asked the Permanent Deacons celebrating their one-year anniversary in the Diocese of Shreveport to submit short reflections on their parish ministries.

Deacon Tom Deal
Jesus the Good Shepherd Catholic Church
My first year as a deacon in the Catholic Church has been filled with challenges, surprises, but most of all, blessings.

The challenges of my first year have come in the integration of my life as a deacon with my other life –– as a husband, father, grandfather and insurance agent. The problem is not so much time management of the required duties of a deacon as it is the management of choice –– deciding how to spend what used to be “free time.”

The subjective judgment to expand my duties as a deacon requires time be taken from some other part of my life –– home and family, work or personal time. That’s not so hard at first because you naturally take your personal time, but when you get past that, the choices become more difficult and affect your life more. I have managed it and have more or less settled into a routine, keeping my priorities as we were taught in formation –– God first, family second, work third and church fourth. If being  a deacon was not so rewarding and satisfying, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The first and most notable surprise in my first year as a deacon came with some sadness followed by joy. The first on the list is the passing of our beloved priest, friend and mentor, Father David Richter, pastor of Jesus the Good Shepherd where I am assigned. The surprise included the four services at the church on the Saturday and Sunday following Father Richter’s death, with Bishop Duca, Father Price and Father Garvin presiding, with fellow Deacon Chris Domingue and I in service.

The masses were emotional for our parish, yet healing at the same time. The joy of all this came in knowing Father Richter was receiving his just reward in heaven and leaving us behind to play expanded roles in our parish, but not before teaching us how to be willing servants by word and, of course, example.

The next surprise also serves as the blessing I spoke of earlier.  It came in relation to a funeral when I was asked to preside over a vigil service, funeral and graveside service for a young man killed in a car accident. This happened after Father Richter’s death. No priest was available, so I was called upon to do the service.

I had almost no time to prepare and it was my very first time serving at a funeral, as a deacon in this or any other capacity. I’m still not sure exactly what I said in the reflection at the vigil service, but the family said it was perfect. The funeral and graveside service the next day were equally spiritual and rewarding experiences as a deacon in service.

I have since done three funerals as presider, and I have come to the realization that our service as deacons is no more needed, appreciated and rewarding than when provided to a grieving family at the death of a loved one. The sense of loss, despair and sorrow are so profound, so overwhelming that for us to serve as an emissary of Christ to bring comfort and peace to a  family in this context may very well be our most rewarding service as a deacon. It is a true blessing.

Deacon Chris Domingue
Jesus the Good Shepherd Catholic Church

As I look back on the last year, I see mistakes, successes, tough times and sheer joy.  All of it has been a blessing. I have been touched by the people of my parish and those of other parishes who know that I am a deacon and who not only congratulate me for my ordination, but thank me for my service.

I have had the pleasure of working with a quiet and solid spiritual leader in the pastoral care of Father David Richter, before his sudden passing. I had the honor of serving at the celebration of his life during the funeral mass offered for him at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans.

Most recently, I have experienced the loss of Msg. Moore who has been a fixture of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish for many years. In my heart I know that Father David Richter and Monsignor Moore are still guiding me in my ministry. I am blessed to have the energetic and enthusiastic, yet profoundly spiritual, leadership of Father Keith Garvin. Ihave the honor and opportunity to work with Deacon Tom Deal whom I admire so much and who teaches me by word and example.

I have led sessions in the RCIA process and was able to see 12 candidates come into full communion at the Easter Vigil. I have personally welcomed five new members to the Catholic family through the Sacrament of Baptism and assisted in the wedding of a nephew in south Louisiana.

I have persisted in my daily morning and evening prayers. I have found myself in complete awe of the Liturgy of the Eucharist as I served on the altar. I have spoken words that I did not know were there as I prepared and then delivered my homilies. I have done several Benedictions, communion services and vocational prayer services. I have been blessed to have the privilege to serve with the Bishop at the Red Mass and other liturgical services.

I have been afforded the privilege of using my gift of singing the Christmas and Easter proclamations, as well as with our choir when I am not serving on the altar. I have continued to participate and lead a small faith sharing community (Bible study group) and see it grow.

Through it all my wife, Szu-Wei, and my family have been solidly at my side –– sometimes cheerleading, sometimes refereeing; but at all times, the grounding wisdom of my ministry. And though sometimes, perhaps often times, I have made mistakes; I have been blessed by everything God has brought me to and through.

It has been a good year.  A year of learning, of praying, of crying (I even cried at my first Baptism, I was so moved), and laughing, it has also been a year of personal and spiritual growth and growing into my ministry. Though I do not know the future, I trust in God’s plan to lead me where he needs me. I pray that I serve God and all his people well, and that it brings him (not me) all the glory.

Deacon Steve Lehr
St. Jude Catholic Church

My first year as a deacon began with me being ordained on a Saturday and an hour later I assisted at my mass at St. Jude and was called to give my first homily.

What a day of joy and a little bit of anxiety. I made it through that day and was welcomed by a great community of people at St. Jude. I am still getting use to people calling me Deacon Steve, but it is a great honor to serve Bishop Duca and the Catholic Church. I have so much to experience and to learn, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I will continue to hope in the Lord and be brave.

There has been several memories for reflection that I would like to share. I have stood many times at the altar and looked out into the congregation and witnessed great reverence and praise for our Lord in the most holy Eucharist. As a community we are truly participating in the most important event in all of our lives and that has become more evident to me as a Deacon on the altar. I am very thankful to serve at the mass. The Benediction at the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a powerful prayer, even though I am not good at singing in Latin. God’s presence is such a precious gift until he returns in his glory and to take the time (which is the key to conversion) to be still and give him praise can be a new beginning.

The blessing of the graves is a rite that touched me immensely. I have been Catholic all my life and never knew about the blessing of graves of love ones who have passed on.

I was called to lead with other fellow deacons and I was inspired by the faith and love of all who come every year to remember their love ones and lift them up in God’s mercy. I walked through the cemetery in my vestments not in sadness but in joy. The stories and love of family members that people shared with me before each prayer of blessing was a beautiful testament that faith is alive not dead. God’s love is bigger than any grave and he proved that the moment the stone rolled away.

One of the most precious memories of all is when I did my first baptism. I baptized Ella, my granddaughter. I was so excited to witness God’s grace on this day. I have to say that baptisms are such a great joy overall. I could go on and on, but I will have to end with an exultation –– God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

Deacon Danny LeMoine
Christ the King Catholic Church

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since our ordination. My wife, Linda, and I find that our days and weeks are incredibly busy lately. We have been so blessed and serving the parishioners of our parish has enriched our lives so much. In addition, we continue to grow stronger together spiritually as a couple.

Our year has been very full as we have become more involved in the parish. I have been well received by the parishioners of Christ the King and Holy Trinity, and I am so grateful for the love and support that I have received from them. It is real now. The first time I was addressed as Deacon Daniel was so humbling. The feedback has been very positive. Several parishioners have told me that they can connect to or see themselves in my homilies.

At Christ the King, I usually preach on the last weekend of the month, and assist Father Karl during at least one mass a week. In addition, Msgr. Provenza and Fr. Charles Glorioso have given me the honor of preaching on the second weekend of every month at Holy Trinity.  Over all, it has been a beautiful spiritual filled year.

Deacon Jack Lynch
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church

The call you receive from Willis-Knighton Pierremont or the Veteran’s Administration Hospital does not always explain the circumstances of someone’s health. They could be near death or just wanting prayer before a relatively minor surgery. Often times when the patient is going in for a dangerous surgery or is near death, you are not just praying for the patient, but for the spouse and family, as well.

On one of my first outings I was called to pray over a veteran who was just about to go in for surgery. Before we prayed, I asked his wife what his first name was. She gave me his name, and then she gave me her name. My tunnel vision of  being focused on the patient only was suddenly broadened when I realized he was not the only one who wanted or needed prayer.  He might have been facing a serious operation, but his wife also needed the assurance of the Lord’s presence to quell her anxiety and fears about her husband’s health.There is no training for doing this. You just take the call, grab your copy of the Pastoral Care of the Sick and go in the name of the Lord.

Some of the situations you are called into are rather dire. Last month I prayed over a young man whose two friends had been killed in a motor vehicle accident and he was in extremely serious condition. When I arrived at the hospital, his bed was surrounded by medical staff hovering around the patient’s bed with his mother anxiously standing beside him. His body was covered with a sheet, but his Mom and I managed to uncover his hand. We placed our hands on his hand and we prayed for the Lord’s mercy in his life and for the Lord to be with him. But I also prayed for the mom who would see her son slip away to be with the Lord in a few short hours. Prayers for the dying are important, but prayers for the living  are important, as well.

Deacon Robert Ransom
St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

My experience as a deacon is going well. I definitely have been accepted into my community. I am transitioning more and more into the fabric of the community. Interestingly enough, the older parishioners accepted me right away. They tell me that when I read the gospel, they don’t have to strain to hear me.

I am involved in several ministries and that is going well. I co-teach the Confirmation class with Tracey Oakley and we had a record number of students in our class this year –– 34. And one-half of them were Latinos. I must admit, I became teary-eyed during the ceremony, watching so many 9th and 10th graders saying “yes” to the Holy Spirit. It was awesome. I’m also working with the CYO group in Ruston, as well as leading a junior high and high school bible study group. Indeed, I am staying very busy.

Ricardo Rivera
Christ the King Catholic Church

What can I say? The last year has rushed by so fast. I have had the opportunity to assist at several funerals with Father Joseph Ampat, Father Karl, and Father Rigoberto Bentancurt Cortes. Just one baptism so far, but assisted Father Rigo with seven or eight. I’ve had the privilege to participate in hospital visits. I’ve continued to work with my wife, Wanda, in Pre-Cana classes in the Spanish ministry at Christ the King.

I have become more involved with the liturgy of the mass and now I am the point of contact for liturgy in the Spanish masses and services. Doing Spanish and English homilies has been some work, but it has been very rewarding. It has been very humbling when you get compliments about the homilies –– I chalk it up to the Holy Spirit working through me to maybe touch someone out there.

I’m sure Deacon Danny will tell you there is no shortage of weekly meetings to go to whether it is one or both parishes. There have been some challenges to getting both parishes working together; however, we are progressing. Working for Father Karl and Father Rigoberto has been very rewarding and a blessing. Father Karl came from St. Joseph and has been very supportive of deacons.

On All Saints Day I tripped at Hillcrest Cemetery and almost broke my ankle (sprained) and scruffed up both hands. It was a unique way to end the day of blessing graves. But it was a humbling experience to provide blessings and comfort to those who came to honor their loved ones.

At every mass we have an opportunity to bless the children who have not received First Communion. Just as Christ did, I feel very honored to provide blessings to the little ones.

Wanda has been my cornerstone helping me with my ministry –– Spanish homilies and working with Our Lady of Guadalupe group at Christ the King. Wanda helps out with RCIA and I have helped her with some of her sessions. I thank the Lord every day for the opportunity to serve him in whatever he wants me to do.

Deacon Charles Thomas
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

The one thing that makes feel good is the over whelming acceptance and appreciation the people in my parish have for my calling to the diaconate. I do make visits to the hospital and nursing homes, and you can see in the faces of the people I visit how much it means to them just by me stopping by to visit and bring them communion.

Deacon Marc Vereen
St. Joseph Catholic Church (Bastrop)

It hardly seems possible that it’s been a year since the day I was ordained as a deacon in the Catholic Church. It’s sort of surreal. I can’t believe it; it’s how I felt after graduating college as well, it was so much a part of my life for four years.

During those four years, I think I have experienced every possible emotion. There were good times and not such good times. There were times when I just didn’t think I could make it through the classes and tests in formation, but, as we all know, God has a plan for us. I truly believe that when he nudged me to send in my application, he also agreed to see me through it until the end.

While I do, in fact, credit God for being there for me, I would be remiss without acknowledging my family. My son was only six-years-old when I began this journey and I missed a lot of activities of his. But he always understood and for that I am grateful. My wife, Kim, stood by me the whole time, as well; she was my tutor, critique person, sounding board, classmate and, most importantly, my rock. Together we persevered, and together we continue to go forward and grow in and with the ministry of the diaconate. To say it has been a blessing seems a little cliché, but it’s what it is.

I have been blessed to serve at the right side of an amazing priest that has the utmost respect for me and, more importantly, the role of the deacon. Together we are indeed making a difference. I’m in a more unique position than some; I was assigned to the church where I grew up and have attended for 44 years. I thought that would make for an awkward transition, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My parish welcomed me with open arms and continues to support and encourage me. It’s what keeps me going, –– knowing that I am doing what God called me to do and that I am making a difference.

To any men thinking they may be feeling the tug of the diaconate,  I ask that you prayerfully discern your decision. If it’s what God wants you to do, you will know it. I encourage everyone to continue to pray for vocations and those that have already answered the call. I am proof of your prayers working.