Monthly Archives: October 2015

Tales from the Road: World Meeting of Families

Pope Francis took the United States by storm when he visited at the end of September, traveling to Washington D.C., New York and finally Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. And while most of us had to watch the events from our homes, a small group of people from the Diocese of Shreveport were able to go to D.C. and Philadelphia to be a part of the giant World Meeting of Families and catch a glimpse of our beloved pope. Each traveler had a beautiful, unique and spiritual experience. Enjoy this glimpse into their favorite parts of their trips.

Dotye Sue Stanford and Carol Gates

Dotye Sue Stanford and Carol Gates are the Diocese of Shreveport family life representatives. As part of their trip to the World Meeting of Famlies, they kept a blog ( You can view all of their entries there, but here are some highlights:

9/23/15:  Today was our first day in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families!  It was exciting to be there for the opening. We made it in town around 12 o’clock and grabbed a taxi with a priest in charge of youth from the Diocese of Alexandria. The opening session was really exciting! Then we had our first meeting, Keynote Speaker, Bishop Robert Barron talked… The Mass was wonderful, with Archbishop Chaput. There were over 200 priests and at least 100 cardinals and bishops, so many that it took almost 30 minutes for the procession. There were also so many sisters – it was just fantastic!

9/24/15: How can we be light? When God created light, he did so to bring order out of chaos. Cardinal Sarah explained to us that we sin when we become enslaved to things. We can only find fulfillment and happiness when we love God and neighbor. Sin separates us from God, repentance brings us back to Him. .. As disciples of Christ, filled with God’s mercy, we can help others come to know God. As family, we can transmit the faith, speak of His praises, and serve as a Light to the world in the darkness!  Are you ready to be that light?

Breakout presenters, Dr. and Mrs. Popchak suggested that families do these things with intention: strive for intimacy; regularly schedule time for play, prayer, talk and work; practice radical, self-donating love, ask family members, “What can I do to make your life better today?”, and spoil children with affection and love;  show and speak of your love!

Along with about 300 other individuals, this afternoon volunteers set aside one hour to help pack over 30,000 food packets for the hungry in Africa. The packet consisted of servings of dried vegetables, soy, rice and vitamin packets!  All week, participants are joining the Catholic Relief Services’ Helping Hands project at the World Meeting of Families –  the youth are winning as the group with the most meals packed in one hour! Way to go!

As thousands gather this week for prayer, fellowship, celebration of the Eucharist, and talks, thousands are also taking part in an attempt to break the Guiness Book of World Records for the greatest number of people painting a mural! The picture will become the image of the World Meeting to the max!

9/25/15:  We joined approximately 100 sisters from orders throughout the world for prayer in the Chapel at 7:30 p.m.  Portions of the prayer are in song, their voices were like angels! Outside the Chapel, they erected structures, provided lines and railings for pilgrims and visitors to add their prayer intentions, and we believe there are thousands and thousands of prayer intentions posted on that sacred spot!  We added ours which includes all of you! Inside the Cathedral, as part of our pilgrimage, we viewed the sacred relics of co-patron saints of the World Meeting of Families, Pope John Paul ll and and Gianna Beretta Molla, and a combined  reliquary  containing  relics  of  Saint  Thérèse  of  the Child  Jesus  and  her  venerable  parents,  Blessed  Louis  and  Zélie  Martin—who  will  be  canonized  Saints  by  Pope  Francis  on  October  18th of  this  year!

9/26/15:  Bishop Duca joined in the events of the World Meeting of Families today and spent time with the Shreveport delegation.

9/27/15:  To complete our day, at sunset, our smiling pope wheeled past us very quickly, we call out to him, he looked our way!  Just so overwhelming! Unforgettable!
Our pope’s every word was covered on channels nationwide! What a wonderful week for Catholics and Christians! We will be talking about how he has encouraged us, and how we can put this encouragement into action in our homes and parishes and dioceses! The WMoF organizers estimated that close to one million people would attend the festival – they had to be close.  On the stage were top musicians, comedians and speakers!

9/28/15:  Dotye and Carol persevered in order to join the group to be present at the Cathedral to escort the deacons bringing Holy Communion to individuals on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway!

On Sunday before the papal Mass, [Pope Francis] circled around the Cathedral!  The state police relaxed their original plans to make us stay inside and allowed us on the Cathedral steps so we could wave hello to the pope! He blessed us, as we stood in the midst of his deacons! Then he surprised us all by getting out of his Popemobile to visit the prayer site in front of the chapel! They erected structures for visitors to place prayer intention ribbons. He walked around it, read a few, then got back in his mobile to go to the head of the parkway.

In the cathedral, it was almost completely filled with deacons and escorts (us), and at a specific point, our escort lined us up, matching us to a deacon. We were given a yellow and white umbrella to hold open over the deacon and Body of Christ.  The Mass was very emotional for so many, what a wonderful liturgy to be a part of!
Mass was beautiful, serving in the Communion line was touching and our pilgrimage to Philadelphia was unforgettable!

Deacon Bill Roche

It was very powerful to experience the nearness of Pope Francis and to observe the total embrace by the City of Philadelphia and the vast outpouring of devotion and affection by the people gathered in Philadelphia. It was Pope Francis everywhere: light post banners, welcome signs, traffic alert signs, t-shirts and even pizza boxes. My traveling companion and friend, Rick Colbert, and I stood in front of Independence Hall on Friday afternoon where Pope Francis stood 24 hours later and delivered an address on freedom in general, the immigrant experience and religious freedom in particular.

On two occasions on Saturday evening, and again on Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis paraded close by where we were standing. Beyond the thrill and joy of being that close to Pope Francis, I realized that he was blessing the crowd, and me, as he passed by. This was particularly visible on Sunday afternoon when the Popemobile passed by slowly.

The huge crowd that gathered both days was so well behaved and appreciative. The crowd on Saturday evening was festive while they were being entertained by world class performers. The pope also sat and enjoyed the entertainment. The real surprise was on Sunday afternoon when a much larger crowd gathered for Mass. The people spoke, sang and played waiting for Mass to begin. However, when Pope Francis began the prayer of the Mass, the crowd hushed, and from that moment participated respectfully and quietly until the end of Mass. There was less noise and distraction than at a regular Sunday Mass!


Fr. Mark Watson

From March 13, 2013, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope, I have had great interest in Pope Francis. For the past two-and-a-half years I have enjoyed observing his humility and love as well as his wisdom, which is expressed so well in his written documents. When I heard Pope Francis would travel to the United States, I decided to be a part of the excitement.

My adventure began on Wednesday, September 23. I took an early flight from Monroe and flew to the Reagan airport in Washington, D.C.  After putting my luggage in my room, I went to a reception held by Network, a Catholic Social Justice Advocacy organization. Network sponsored a tour entitled “Nuns on the Bus.” This tour was made up of a group of religious sisters who traveled from Topeka, KS to Washington, D.C. At each stop they spoke on social justice issues and encouraged political participation. Given the pope’s visit, the sisters made Washington the final stop of their tour.

The next morning, Thursday, September 24, I got up at 5:00 a.m. in order to get ready to walk to the West Lawn of the Capitol in order to watch a Telecast of the pope’s address to the joint meeting of Congress. I stood on the West Lawn of the Capitol from 6:30 to 10:00 a.m., when Pope Francis began his address to Congress. He spoke to Congress about protecting immigrants and asked that those in Congress work against climate change, the arms race and the death penalty. I found the speech to be very moving. Afterwards he went to a balcony from which he could see the crowd.   From the balcony, the pope presented a short message and gave us a blessing.

On Friday, September 25, Congressman Ralph Abraham invited constituents who had attended the pope’s address to an Open House in his office. I spent the morning speaking with Congressman Abraham, his staff and other guests from Louisiana. After a short walk, I went back to the hotel and packed in order to take an Amtrak train to Philadelphia.

Soon after arriving in the train station, I took a light rail train to the Philadelphia International Airport where I met my mother and we began the Philadelphia part of our trip.

The pope flew from Washington to New York on Thursday evening.  He spent Friday in New York and flew to Philadelphia on Saturday, September 26. On Saturday he celebrated Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, gave a speech on immigration at Independence Hall and attended the Festival of Families, which was held outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mom and I spent most of the day on Saturday at the Festival of Families. We enjoyed entertainment by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Juanes, Andrea Bocelli and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The high point of the evening was an inspiring speech on the family by Pope Francis.   Shortly after he began, he turned from his prepared notes and spoke from the heart.  His message focused on the love of God and the hope found within the family.  He stated, “The family is a factory of hope, a factory of Resurrection.”  His speech also included humor when he said, “sometimes plates can fly, and children can bring headaches!  And I won’t say anything about mothers-in-law.”

Finally on Sunday, September 27 the pope celebrated Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  I was able to concelebrate with about 350 other priests. I was honored to be able to concelebrate a Mass which was celebrated by Pope Francis.

My experience in Philadelphia left me with a feeling of deep gratitude that God has blessed the Church with such a humble, loving and outgoing pope.

Aranda Family

“Love is something we learn; Love is something we live; Love grows as it is forged by the situations each family experiences.”  Pope Francis

This quote describes our trip to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit. From our four-day car trip with four kids to the week of amazing talks, to the six hour wait to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis and the four hour line for security to receive the final blessing at the papal Mass: this trip was about love.
Preparation for this adventure started a year ago. We were fortunate to be able to bring our whole family and our 12-year-old cousin from D.C. and stay with our dear friends at a bed and breakfast nearby. We took the train into the city everyday, which was an adventure in itself with four adults and nine children!

The talks were engaging. (You can listen to them at under podcasts). The exhibition hall with hundreds of vendors was like a Catholic Disneyland with everything from books about saints to sacramentals to life-size pope cut-outs. I loved that our family was surrounded by so many priests and nuns. There’s nothing better than seeing my kids chat with nuns about their favorite saints or seeing priests on the streets hearing confession and giving absolution.

On Friday, we were able to celebrate Mass with the Archbishop of Military Services. It was a blessing to see people from home when we had lunch with Bishop Duca and others from Shreveport one afternoon. Out of the thousands of people waiting for the papal parade on Saturday, who should I see, but my Shreveport friend Shelly Voltz!  In the massive pope-loving crowd, we also found our cousin’s brother and the rest of the Shreveport group. I don’t think these were coincidences, but  little acts of love by God. The pope’s words at the Festival of Families were inspiring and there was so much excitement and joy in our family as we waved and shouted when the pope passed us by in his parade. That night on the train someone led a rosary in our train car: love! Even though the next day, we only made it to the end of Mass because of the security line, the four-and-a-half hour wait was enjoyable. People were so friendly and helpful, sometimes pushing a stroller as I nursed my son, or entertaining my energetic kids. My kids felt the love and were well-behaved for the very long wait. Our family will never forget this love-filled adventure and we are hopeful that we can do it again in Dublin 2018!

 Rosalba Quiroz

While waiting in line, like thousands of others, Pope Francis passed about 50 feet away from us for about 30 seconds. Adriana Gonzalez-Toledo, my trip mate, helped me up a cement base that put me above everyone’s head (I wanted her to go up, but she has had the fortune of seeing Pope Francis on two more occasions, so she made sure the crowds did not push me). As Pope Francis passed by, I felt his blessing directly on me and my heart became warm and full of joy. I like to think that I had a mini Pentecost experience. Although I did not speak in tongues, I was inspired to pray for all of us there and for all who were not able to attend.  My prayer to God in that moment was that He help us to follow the pope’s example of honesty, humbleness and love. I thanked God for the privilege of working for Him and the opportunity of being close to the person He gave us as Jesus’ successor.

More than a million people made it to Philadelphia, but less than half were able to enter to the pope’s Sunday Mass because it took about seven hours in line to go through security. After six hours in line, I was able to enter, just as Pope Francis gave the final blessing and I was able to see it on a screen, still a mile away from the altar.

I would do it again, if given the chance. What a blessing is to belong to the Catholic Church that invites and encourages us to follow Jesus’ teachings and the hope that we will all be together in God’s Kingdom!

Pope Francis on His Apostolic Trip to Cuba and the United States

Vatican City – The catechesis of September 30’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square was dedicated to the Holy Father’s recent apostolic trip in Cuba and the United States. The pope took the opportunity to once again express his gratitude to the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, and the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, for the welcome they gave to him, and to the bishops and collaborators in the organization of the trip for their work.

The pope recounted that he presented himself in Cuba, “a land rich in natural beauty, culture and faith,” as a “Missionary of Mercy.” “God’s mercy is greater than any affliction, any conflict, any ideology; and with this gaze of mercy I was able to embrace the entire Cuban population, at home and abroad, looking beyond any division. The symbol of this deep unity is Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, … Patroness of Cuba, … Mother of Hope … who guides us on the path of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation. … I was able to share with the Cuban people the hope of fulfilling the prophecy of St. John Paul II: that Cuba will open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba. No more closure, no more exploitation of the poor, but instead freedom and dignity. It is the path that draws strength from the Christian roots of the people, who have suffered greatly.”

The pope proceeded to the U.S. “A symbolic step, a bridge that, thanks be to God, is being rebuilt,” he commented, adding that “God always wants to build bridges; we are the ones who build walls. But walls always fall down”.

He then spoke about the three phases of his trip to the United States: Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. In Washington D.C. he met not only with the political authorities, but also the clergy, the poor and the marginalized. He remarked that the greatest wealth of the country and her people is her “spiritual and ethical heritage. And so, I wanted to encourage the continuation of social construction faithful to the United States’ fundamental principle, that all men are created by God, equal and endowed with inalienable rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These values, that may be shared by all, find their fulfilment in the Gospel, as was clearly shown by the canonization of the Franciscan Fr. Junipero Serra, the great evangelizer of California. St. Junipero shows us the way to joy: going forth and sharing Christ’s love with others. This is the way of Christians, but also of any person who has known love: not to keep it to oneself but to share it with others. The United States of America have grown on this religious and moral base, and on this base they can continue to be a land of freedom, welcome and cooperation for a more just and fraternal world.”

Turning to the second phase of the trip, in New York, the pope recalled his address to the representatives of nations at the General Assembly of the United Nations, in which he renewed the Catholic Church’s commitment to support the institution and “its role in the promotion of development and peace, especially with regard to the need for joint and active commitment to care for creation,” and highlighted his appeal “to stop and prevent violence against ethnic and religious minorities and against civil populations.” The Holy Father recounted that he had prayed at Ground Zero for peace and fraternity, accompanied by representatives of various religions and families of victims of the September 11 attacks, and celebrated Mass for peace and justice in Madison Square Garden.

“In both Washington D.C. and New York I was able to meet various charitable and educational bodies, emblematic of the enormous service that the Catholic community – priests, men and women religious, and laypeople – offer in these fields”.

However, the climax of the trip was the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, “where the horizon extends to all the world through the ‘prism’ of the family.” He continued, “the family is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a dual challenge: fragmentation and solidification, two extremes which co-exist, support each other and together support the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer as it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and community dimensions, and at the same time the model for a sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the protagonist of an integral ecology, as it is the primary social subject which contains within itself the two basic principals of human civilization on earth: the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Biblical humanism presents us with this icon: the human couple, united and fruitful, placed by God in the garden of the world to cultivate it and protect it.”

The Holy Father concluded by greeting the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, noting his great love for the family made manifest in the organization of the event. “It is not by chance, but rather providential that … the witness of the World Meeting of Families came at this moment from the United States of America – that is, the country that during the last century reached the highest level of economic and technological development without renouncing its religious roots. Now these same roots are asking to be replanted in the family, to rethink and change the model of development, for the good of the entire human family.”

New Dormitory for the Homeless Near the Vatican

Vatican City – “Dono di Misericordia” (“Gift of Mercy”) – is the name of the new dormitory for the homeless, newly established near Santo Spirito Hospital and the Church of the same name in Rome. In an extraterritorial zone, the dormitory is a gift to the Pope from the General House of the Society of Jesus in response to the pope’s appeal to religious communities and orders to house people in need or in difficulty in their properties.

It is a “Gift of Mercy” as it is offered as a gift from the community, and mercy is the second name of the love expressed through concrete and generous gestures towards others, according to a press release from the Apostolic Almoner, which financed and carried out the works necessary to adapt the structure to the needs of its users. It was funded by the proceeds from the sale of parchments of the Apostolic Blessing and by generous contributions from private individuals. The Almoner, along with the Sisters of Mother Teresa, will continue to provide economic support for the Dormitory.

The structure is able to house 34 men. The religious sisters engaged in its administration are those who already assist people in need at Termini Station and San Gregorio Magno al Celio. According to the regulations of the Gift of Mercy Dormitory, guests are received following an interview with the Sisters for reception and registration of applicants (at the Casa Dono di Maria in the Vatican), and may stay for a maximum period of 30 days. There is a precise timetable regarding entry into the dormitory (between 6 and 7 p.m.), waking time (6:15 a.m.) and closing time (8 a.m., to allow general tidying and cleaning). There are also rules regarding personal hygiene and the personal maintenance of each bed and cupboard.

Guests who stay the night may also dine at the canteen at the Casa Dono di Maria before arriving at the Dormitory, and are offered breakfast prepared at the Dormitory before they leave. They may use the showers available under the Colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

It should be recalled that since 1988, in the Casa Dono di Maria in the Vatican, 50 beds are available to accommodate women for overnight stays, of which around 30 are occupied on a stable basis.

Pope Francis Visits the “Dono di Misericordia” Dormitory
Vatican City – Shortly after 7 p.m. October 16, following the Synod meeting, the Holy Father visited the new dormitory for the homeless located in premises provided by the Society of Jesus, inaugurated on October 7 and managed by religious sisters of Charity and a number of volunteers who will manage the new structure, under the auspices of the Office of the Apostolic Almoner.

The pope was welcomed upon arrival by the Apostolic Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, superior general of the Jesuits Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon. He toured the dormitory and services, and spoke at length with the current guests.

by Vatican Information Services

Kids’ Connection: All the Saints!

Click on the image below to download and print the page!

Poor Man’s Supper to Support Christian Service

On Sunday, November 1, Christian Service’s annual Poor Man’s Supper will be serving up more than just a bowl of soup in downtown Shreveport. The event will kick off a fundraising campaign for the renovations of a facility recently donated by Hope Connections, which provides shelter for the homeless.

“Hope Connections donated the warehouse next door to its operations on Levy Street. The building formerly belonged to Caddo Tile, who donated it to Hope Connections,” says Jane Snyder, President of the Board of Christian Service, “But we need to raise $750,000 for the renovations.”

Christian Service, which is currently housed in three buildings in downtown Shreveport, serves 200 meals a day to those who would otherwise go without food, including many children. “We serve breakfast from 9:30 until 11 and supper from 2 to 4, so we can catch children who are home after school,” says Snyder.

“We will become the food and clothing part of the Hope Connections campus,” says Snyder. “We hope to be in the new facility by next year.”

The Poor Man’s Supper will be held Sunday, November 1, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Hunter Building at First United Methodist Church on Common Street. Several local restaurants will be donating the soup, which will be served up by celebrity servers including Bishop Michael Duca, local ministers and city officials. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets are a $20 donation and can be bought at the door.

by Bonny Van

Reflection: Thanksgiving and Aging

Thanksgiving is the epitome of gratitude that wells up in our aging hearts. Our strength does not come from youth, because we have left that part of our lives behind, but from an indomitable will and spirit which we picked up in our aging journey. Let your actions of gratitude be your trademark.

Let’s not loose sight for the reasons behind our aging journey! Eternity is our divine treasure house, but the present moment is already here, even if we do not understand why it is this way. When the world gives up, God says: “I will grant peace in the land…and no one will make you afraid.” Each day is as amazing as we allow it to be – be thankful that you are a blessing in action! Don’t waste the rest of your years, and no second-guessing.

The Proclamation made by George Washington in 1789, has taken on several different meanings for many people. For me, Thanksgiving has a very religious meaning for our country and should be one of continuous praise to God every day, not just once a year. Be thankful for the great country we live in with freedom to be who are meant to be by God. What could be more powerful than the beautiful emotion of gratitude, which at times makes us laugh when a kindness has been done for us. That laughter comes from a heart filled with gratitude. Honor your family gathering with peals of laughter showing your joy, filled with gratitude for their gift of life and family. Forget the food, family comes first!

For all the years that have come and gone, be grateful. For all the times we watched a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a new baby being born, be grateful. For all the challenges we faced, having to give up our car keys, burying a relative or friend, be grateful for remaining faithful to your religious beliefs in a world so mixed up. I’m so grateful to be back in Italy by the Adriatic Sea where everything is a reflection of God’s beauty.

St. Paul says in Ephesians,“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but wise, making the most of the opportunity…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another with hymns of praise, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving THANKS always for everything.” (Ephesians 5:15-20) It is a matter of giving new value to our lives and living in gratitude as we set the example for others around us. How much more beautiful could our aging lives become? We have become “givers of gratitude” to others.

Live wisely my friends with a joyful heart. God shows us His Face in those who live His Gospel. Let us become lost in the wonder, love and gratitude for that face. Have a new conversation with God this Thanksgiving. Pray often about anything: growing older, for your health issues and your family, and for world peace, and do it with Thanksgiving.

Let’s keep in mind the phrase of Joanne Fink as we celebrate the Giver of all things, our Thanksgiving celebration and all the blessings we have received. “Live with promise, Love with passion, and Laugh with pleasure.” May I add, to do it all with gratitude from the bottom of our grateful hearts. “Give thanks with a grateful heart.” (Thessalonians 5:18)

Happy Thanksgiving from Italy!
Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

Bolstering Catholic Charities Through Caritas

Seminar with Fr. Klaus Baumann at Franklin University.

As a Catholic and the Executive Director of our local Catholic Charities, I have had an extraordinary year, but not for the reasons you might think. While I get out of bed each morning with a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips, knowing just how blessed I am to have a wonderful family, my health and a job that motivates me to do more and be a better person each day in the service of my Church and God, my exceptional year really began with the O’Grady Institute in Frankfurt, Germany.  Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that these trips were not funded in any part by Catholic Charities’ monies, nor were they included in the budget.

I spent the first week in study with a small group of directors from Catholic Charities across the country and the Caritas Chair at Frankfurt University, Fr. Klaus Baumann, PhD.  Daily seminars were held, discussing such topics as the New Evangelization, works of mercy, suffering and foundations of Caritas within our Church, leadership and Catholic social teachings.

The second week was spent in Rome where we had the privilege of meeting Cardinal Turkson, the President of The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican, and his staff, as well as Michel Roy, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, and his staff.

We were able to visit a Caritas site and see firsthand the work they were doing to help those living on the margins of Rome. I came away with an incredible sense of pride and much deeper understanding of the work so many are doing in our Church throughout the world.

Caritas, of which Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services are both members, is our Church’s charitable arm throughout the world. The icing on the cake: Cardinal Turkson graciously arranged for our group to have VIP seating as Pope Francis’ audience!  Being about 30 feet from the Holy Father was truly amazing, but seeing him interact so lovingly and compassionately with those who were disabled was quite extraordinary.

My year became even more exceptional when Catholic Charities Executive Directors were given the opportunity to witness President Obama welcome Pope Francis to our nation’s capital.  While we were waiting on the South Lawn of the White House, I spoke with two men in full army regalia, both chaplains. However, when I confused the ranks of Major General and Lieutenant Colonel, I was incredibly embarrassed, especially after learning the gentleman was the Chief of all United States Army Chaplains and a war hero!  I was not sure whether to call him General or Father!  He was very polite and explained the many ribbons and metals on his uniform.

I saw the pope only from the jumbo tron, as we were so far away, but it was wonderful to be surrounded by people who were happy simply to be near the Holy Father.  Later that afternoon, I attended the canonization Mass for Junipero Serra. My feet were sore and my lower back was killing me from standing in line for hours, but it was worth it for this once in a lifetime opportunity!  It was simply a remarkable day in an incredible year.

Now you know the other reasons why I have a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips each morning!

by Jean Dresley

Taste of Shreveport Charity Event to Support Holy Angles

This year marks the 34th Annual Taste of Shreveport-Bossier, one of the area’s largest fundraisers, which benefits the residents and Day Program participants of Holy Angels Residential Facility. At $50 per ticket, “The Taste” attracts over 1,500 guests and brings together premiere chefs from over 20 local restaurants to create a sensational culinary experience that is renowned throughout the community. The evening also boasts some of the area’s finest music and art from both the creative and talented members of our region and from Holy Angels’ extraordinary residents, whose artwork is truly exceptional and inimitable. The event will be held on Friday, November 6, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  at the Bossier Civic Center, located at 620 Benton Road in Bossier City, LA. We invite you to join the families and friends of Holy Angels as we celebrate 34 years of love for art, food, wine and Holy Angels!

In addition to the delicious dishes from over 20 vendors, there is a silent auction coordinated by this year’s Taste Auction Chairman, Mrs. Kevin Driscoll. The Angel Auction showcases over 100 pieces of artwork created by Holy Angels’ residents and AngelWorks Day Program participants in addition to donated artwork from regional artists. The auction items include original paintings, jewelry and ceramics. The auction also features wonderful trips, gifts and products generously donated by local vendors and shops.

All auction and event proceeds benefit Holy Angels with approximately 85 cents of every dollar going directly toward resident care. Please consider showing your support by donating an auction item or piece of artwork to our 34th Anniversary of A Taste of Shreveport-Bossier. For questions, please contact Sharon Driscoll, Taste Auction Chairman at 318-517-7015, or To accompany the evening’s festivities, there is also live music provided by the A.J. and the Two Tone Blues Band, and the Master of Ceremonies will be Mr. David Merrick. The Holy Angels’ Choir will also be performing.

Participation in the 34th Anniversary of A Taste of Shreveport-Bossier through corporate sponsorship and the artist auction donation adds tremendous value to our community and assists in providing for our 180 deserving residents.  Holy Angels, established in 1965 by Bishop Charles P. Greco and the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, is an independent, residential training facility focused on sustaining our legacy of care for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in our community.  Holy Angels strives to meet the ever-changing needs of our residents who range in age from young children to senior citizens.

To purchase tickets or for more information, contact Lindsey H. Tison, Holy Angels’ Events and Development Coordinator, at 318-629-1711 or, and visit

Farewell Monsignor Charles Murray Clayton

by Randy Tiller

I was asked to write an article regarding the life and times of our beloved servant, pastor, friend, confessor, spiritual adviser, counselor, champion of the poor and homeless: Msgr. Murray Clayton. Fr. Rothell Price painted a portrait at his Vigil that left us with a perfect image of Fr. Clayton; likewise, Fr. Pike Thomas at the funeral shared his experiences of being mentored and formed under the hand of Fr. Clayton that also gave depth to who he was.

Reverend Monsignor Charles Murray Clayton could fill up a magazine, not just an article. To see Fr. Clayton as a precursor to Pope Francis is an understatement.  He knew well the smell of his sheep and his sheep knew him. Fr. Clayton saw the face of Christ in every one he met with no regard for race, color, creed, ethnicity, gender, age or economic status. They were all his brothers and sisters in Christ and, as a truly humble man, saw himself at the bottom of the spectrum.

To listen to a homily from Msgr. Clayton was to receive a lesson in linguistics, scripture history, anthropology and geography.  He painted a picture that brought the scriptures alive. Fr. Clayton never shied away from delivering a lesson or sermon unless it dealt with finances. He knew that God would provide; so he accepted his deficiency in the world of finance and humbly accepted the comments from his Finance Council. And God did provide right along with funds for Mexico, for a true sense of doctors without borders before it was an international organization.

Fr. Clayton told the story many times in a wonderful imitation of Bishop Charles P. Greco: Bishop Greco came to Fr. Clayton and, in his best bishop’s voice, said something akin to, “Murray, my boy, I need your help at one of our parishes. St. Joseph in Shreveport is having some difficult times and I need someone to settle things down.”  Not really in rebuttal, because Fr. Clayton would have never said no to Bishop Greco, however he pointed out to Bishop Greco that he was Chancellor of the Diocese of Alexandria, and editor of the diocesan Catholic newspaper, Church Today, and not an experienced parochial pastor, and, “Bishop, they have a school!”  Bishop Greco accepted his comment and indicated that his assignment would only be for a couple of years and he would be replaced and brought back to Alexandria.  We all know the rest of the story.

Many a young Catholic family went to Fr. Clayton professing their extreme concern that they would not be able to send their children to St. Joseph School because of the tuition. I am not sure if anyone really knows the number of children who attended St. Joseph at a much reduced rate or no rate at all. Fr. Clayton would not say no to the children.  Nor does anyone really know the number of boys who, due to Fr. Clayton and the generosity of the St. Joseph parishioners, were able to live in the orphanage, rather than in the prisons in Mexico. Or the number of people in Mexico who received medical, dental and orthopedic attention, as a result of his relationship with Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children.

I never ran into Fr. Clayton at church, in Albertsons, at the Strand, or at a meeting that he did not lean over and give me a kiss on the cheek.  It was his extra little way of showing the love he had for all God’s children.

Fr. Clayton helped to form supper clubs, established “the boat” for the youth of the parish with the help of Buddy Caesar, through the intervention of Michael Kenney built an adult choir, a contemporary ensemble, a bell choir, a children’s choir and a youth choir at St. Joseph. Liturgies were beautiful, vibrant, spiritual and meant to involve as many ministers and members as possible.

He personally walked with, cried with, laughed with many of the parishioners as we anxiously endured the tense moments of a surgery or a medical issue, the wonder of the birth of a child, the passing of a parent, spouse or loved one.  As Fr. Clayton got older and many of his friends and people he knew and loved passed away, he began to back away from presiding at the funerals and wakes, instead sitting with the family and giving them his personal brand of consolation, spiritual understanding and personal love.

Fr. Clayton teamed up with Sr. Margaret McCaffrey to breathe life into her idea to help the less fortunate among us. To their credit the organization known as Christian Service is still serving the needs of our area. They have established soup kitchens, transitional housing for men and women and a clothes pantry.

There are so many examples of his love for his fellow men and women; his special devotion to the less fortunate, and his desire to “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Shreveport-Bossier 40 Days for Life Update

The Shreveport-Bossier 40 Days for Life campaign has been off to a great start!  We trained 25 new sidewalk counselors at our annual Sidewalk Counseling Training Event with Sidewalk Advocates for Life (SAFL).  SAFL executive director Lauren Muzyka equipped these new counselors with the skills to peacefully, lovingly reach out from the sidewalk outside Shreveport-Bossier’s abortion facilities.  They are able to offer life-affirming choices to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

One short week later we had our 40 Days for Life Kickoff Rally.  Bishop Michael Duca led the opening prayer before dozens of people at Messmer Stadium.  Keynote speaker, former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino, shared her story of conversion to life. She told of how she was inspired by the local 40 Days for Life presence outside her facility.

We have had a very good presence on the sidewalk in the first few days of the campaign.  We are very happy to report our first save by veteran sidewalk counselor Rachael Wells. She had a woman follow her in her car away from the Shreveport abortion facility and to the local crisis pregnancy center.

Perhaps the biggest news so far was the birth of baby Noah on Day Two of this year’s fall campaign. His mother and father had considered abortion during last year’s spring campaign. But through the efforts of another of Shreveport-Bossier’s veteran sidewalk counselors, Melissa Tittle, they chose life!  Though we are faithful that God saves lives because of our prayers every day, this may be the first time we were able to actually meet a baby saved from our efforts. This time, God has shown us in a powerful way the fruits of praying for an end to abortion.  God bless our campaign these 40 days and the over 300 campaigns worldwide!