Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christian Service Kicks Off Campaign

On the first of November at the annual Poor Man’s Supper of Christian Service, Jane Snyder, President of the Christian Service board, announced the kick off of a Capital Campaign to raise funds to renovate the building at Hope Connections on Levy Street where Christian Service will move its Hospitality House and clothing facility to continue Sr. Margaret McCaffrey and Msgr. Murray Clayton’s mission to serve those in need in our community.

Pictured: Al Moore, Executive Director of of Christian Service presenting the Sr. Margaret group award to two representatives from WalMart.

– Jane Snyder

St. Jude Ladies Guild

The St. Jude Ladies Guild gathered for their annual potluck dinner.            - Mike Wise

Lighted Rosary at St. Jude

The high school youth at St. Jude Parish set up a lighted rosary in October to honor the Month of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Mike Wise

Pro-Life Donation from Knights

The Knights of Columbus presented Bishop Michael Duca a check from the proceeds from the Day at the Downs event to assist with the Culture of Life programs in the diocese. Pictured: Chris Davs, Distric Deputy Shreveport / Bossier City, Bishop Michael Duca and Dave Bodden, Event Coordinator.

Vocations View: Instituted Ministries of the Church

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by Duane Trombetta, Seminarian

In August 2015, I entered my second year of theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. With each successive year in the seminary, I become better equipped to celebrate the sacrament and sacrifice of the Eucharistic liturgy. The Church marks the journey toward that goal with milestones which impart blessings and designate responsibilities. In the past these were called “minor orders.” Today they are called “ministries.”

In the earliest centuries of Christianity, candidates for priesthood would be chosen from among the faithful and entrusted with the important duties of proclaiming the Word of God and assisting at liturgical celebrations. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) delineated the three “major orders” as Priest, Deacon, and Subdeacon, and the four “minor orders” as Acolyte, Exorcist, Lector, and Porter.  The second Vatican Council (1962-1965) consolidated and restructured the minor orders into the two “ministries” of Acolyte and Lector.

Formally instituted Acolytes are lay men who assist priests and deacons in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels at Mass and other church services.  They are considered Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. Formally instituted Lectors are charged with reading the Word of God in church. At their institution ceremonies, Acolytes and Lectors receive special blessings of lasting importance, by which they become consecrated to God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1672).

Though the Second Vatican Council made changes to the ministries of Acolyte and Lector, their fundamental goal remained constant: to prepare candidates to serve in the Eucharistic liturgy. After all, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. By carrying out the duties of Acolyte and Lector, a candidate for priesthood can be an effective disciple of Christ and help fulfill the mission of evangelization.

Discussion of the ministries of Acolyte and Lector took on timely significance to the Diocese of Shreveport on Saturday, October 24, 2015.  On that day we seminarians, our formators, family members, and friends attended the Rite of Institution in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Notre Dame Seminary.  Shreveport seminarian Kevin Mues received the institution of Lector, and I received the institution of Acolyte.

The Church expressed her happiness on that occasion through a solemn liturgy and by joyful singing by the Notre Dame Seminary Choir, the Schola Cantorum. The presider and homilist was His Excellency, Most Reverend Joseph Strickland, the Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland symbolically gave the Lectors a Bible to signify their ministry of proclaiming the Word of God, and he handed to the Acolytes a ciborium with bread to signify the ministry of assisting at the altar.
It is my pleasure and honor to serve as Acolyte for the Diocese of Shreveport. And now, destined in a special way for the service of the altar, I will do my best to learn all matters concerning public divine worship and strive to serve worthily in the Eucharistic liturgy of Jesus Christ.

Are you feeling called to a vocation in the Church? Contact Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Church Vocations, at 318-868-4441, or mlong@dioshpt.org

December Second Collections: National Retirement Fund for the Religious & Diocesan Infirm Priests’ Fund

Msgr. Franz Graef is one of many priests assisted by the Diocesan Infirm Priests' Fund.

I am so happy to enter this YEAR OF MERCY.  Just the thought of God’s mercy gives me such courage, hope and joy.  His love gives me the desire to acknowledge and eradicate my sinful imperfections. His faithfulness gives me a tremendous sense of security. His compassion makes me want to please Him all the more. I am so grateful to Pope Francis for promulgating this Year of Mercy.  I will take full advantage of this year of spiritual graces by personally making pilgrimage to the Cathedral, entering through the Holy Door to bow humbly before our merciful God.

An amazing “year of mercy” has begun! Two collections occur in this month that begin our new liturgical year and end our current calendar year: the National Retirement Fund for Religious Collection, and the Diocesan Infirm Priests’ Fund Collection.

NATIONAL RETIREMENT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS
Collection Dates:  December 12 & 13
Announcement Dates: November 29 & December 6
P lease give to those who have given a lifetime.”  Our first special collection in December is for The National Retirement Fund for Religious. Aging religious need your help. Senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests spent years working in Catholic schools, hospitals, and agencies – often with little pay. Their sacrifices leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and eldercare. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection helps to provide prescription medications, nursing care and more. More than 35,000 retired nuns, brothers and religious order priests are counting on the Church to give as generously to them as they have given to the Lord and His holy people. Please give to those who have given a lifetime. Thank you for your charitable mercy to those who have given a lifetime by your grateful participation in the National Retirement Fund for Religious.

DIOCESAN INFIRM PRIESTS’ FUND
Collection Dates:  December 24 & 25
Announcement Dates: December 13 & 20
In this Year of Mercy, I invite you to demonstrate God’s generous mercy to our Diocese of Shreveport infirmed priests. This year we blessed with funeral rites four of our beloved priests, three of whom were retired.  With great love and care we commend to God: Father David Richter, who was still a decade-plus away from retirement, Bishop William Friend, Monsignor Eddie Moore and Monsignor Murray Clayton.

Some of our active and retired priests currently struggle with long or short term maladies, or the natural decline which is part of the aging process. Despite their unique crosses, they press on in their love of God and service to His people. We want to assure them that they are not forgotten and will be properly cared for by the bishop and people of our diocese. Please pray for their strength and joy in the Lord.

An outpouring of mercy from the People of God will lift their spirits, lighten their anxiety and give them comfort and hope in their present need. Your continued prayers and your heartfelt charity will be their God-sent signs of mercy. Please give generously to the care of these priests of our diocese.  Thank you for your participation in the Diocesan Infirm Priests’ Fund Collection.

by Fr. Rothell Price

Navigating the Faith: Care for Our Common Home

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by Fr. Mark Watson

Over the summer Pope Francis published his newest encyclical Laudato Si. This document challenges us to experience the beauty of all creation and therefore to both cherish and protect this gift.

Experiencing Nature with Wonder and Awe
The full title of the encyclical is Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. Laudato Si, or “Praised to You” in English, are the opening words of the “Canticle of the Creatures” by St. Francis. In the canticle, St. Francis praises God for various works of creation. We, like St. Francis, are to approach nature with a sense of awe and wonder.

Christians are Stewards of Creation
In the Book of Genesis, God is portrayed as seeing all of creation as good and humanity as being the height of creation. God gave humanity dominion over all creation. From a Christian perspective, dominion means responsible stewardship. The earth is the shared inheritance of all humans. The pope is concerned that humans will destroy habitats without considering the future consequences of their actions. He challenges readers to see that the way humanity either cares for or exploits the environment will affect how the earth is experienced by future generations.

The pope feels the current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which leads to “collective selfishness.” While greed is a current reality, human beings are capable of moving beyond this focus on self. Laudato Si calls humanity to a new beginning which shows itself in a new reverence for life and a new concern for protecting the environment and working for peace and justice.

Shaping the Future of the Planet
Through this encyclical Pope Francis wishes to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable use of resources and to assist in bringing about the holistic development of each person. The pope is concerned that human exploitation of nature will not only destroy the environment but that those most affected will be the poor.

Pope Francis writes that climate change is a reality and is caused by human activity. In coming decades, developing countries will probably experience the greatest impact of climate change. While this is true, the pope still feels human activity can make a difference in protecting the environment from climate change.

Modern times have brought an excessive sense that humanity is at the center of the universe. This has led humanity to not respect nature and has blinded people to the future consequences of their actions. Pope Francis describes our culture as being a “throwaway culture” as many “use and throw away” resources in an irresponsible manner. This waste of resources leads to pollution and climate change. Laudato Si calls all people to make changes in lifestyle, production and consumption in order to combat climate change.  There is a need for businesses to change policies so that the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced.

The Mystery of the Universe and the Loss of Biodiversity
God has a special love for all of creation and thus for every creature.  In fact, nature reveals God as shown in the following quote: “The eternal power and divinity of God is made known through creation” (Laudato Si, 12). Species have a value within themselves, and yet each year thousands of plant and animal species disappear forever and will never be seen by future generations.  In this way, the beauty of creation is continuously being lost.

The Value of the Human Person
Laudato Si emphasizes that human beings are endowed with unique dignity. Therefore, the pope is especially concerned about the effects of environmental deterioration on humanity. Central to the encyclical is the truth that everything is connected. The encyclical focuses not only on threats to plant and animal life, but also threats to humanity. Humanity faces one complex crisis which is both social and environmental, meaning that there is a connection between the issues surrounding human poverty and the issues which bring about the deterioration of the environment. Thus we must acknowledge “the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities (117).” The pope is concerned about the unhealthy environment in which many humans live and that the poor suffer most from environmental deterioration. Central to the document is the truth that we are one human family, and so there is no room for the “globalization of indifference (52).”

Hope: Humanity Can Still Make a Difference
Underlying Laudato Si is a message of hope and a call to change: the earth has been gravely hurt by humans, but humanity can still repair the damage.  “He (God) does not abandon us, He does not leave us alone, for He has united Himself definitively to our earth and His love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.” (245)  •

From the Pope: Conviviality, a Thermometer for Measuring the Health of a Family

by Vatican Information Services

Vatican City, (VIS) – November 11’s general audience was held in St. Peter’s Square, attended by thousands of faithful. Before beginning, the Holy Father invited those present to recite a Hail Mary for the cardinals, bishops, consecrated persons and laypeople who were meeting in Florence for the National Congress of the Italian Church.

He dedicated the day’s catechesis to conviviality, a typical characteristic of family life. This attitude of sharing the goods of life and of being happy to do so is, he said, “a precious virtue.” He continued, “Its symbol, its icon, is the family gathered around the table, partaking of a meal together – and therefore not merely food, but also sentiments, stories and events. It is a fundamental experience. When there is a celebration – a birthday, an anniversary – the family gathers around the table. In some cultures it is customary to do so also following bereavement, to stay close to those who suffer for the loss of a family member.”

“Conviviality is a sure thermometer for measuring the health of relations: if in the family there is a problem or a hidden trouble, you understand immediately at the table. A family that almost never eats together, or does not talk at the table but instead watches the television, or smartphones, is not a close family. Christianity has a special vocation to conviviality, as we all know. The Lord Jesus taught at the table, and represented the Kingdom of God as a festive banquet. Jesus also chose to consign to the disciples His spiritual testament at the table, condensed in the memorial gesture of His Sacrifice.”

Francis explained that the family brings to the Eucharist its own experience of conviviality, and opens it to the grace of a universal conviviality, of God’s love for the world. “Participating in the Eucharist, the family is purified of the temptation to close up in itself, fortified in love and in faith, and broadens the boundaries of its own fraternity according to Christ’s heart. In our time, marked by closed minds and too many walls, the conviviality generated by the family and extended in the Eucharist becomes a crucial opportunity. The Eucharist and families it nourishes are able to overcome such limitations and to build bridges of acceptance and charity.”

“Nowadays many social contexts impede family conviviality. We must find a way to recover it, if adapting it to the times. Conviviality seems to have become something to buy and sell, but in that way it becomes something else. Nourishment is not always the symbol of a just sharing of goods, able to reach those who have neither bread nor affection. In rich countries we are induced to spend first on excessive consumption, and then again to remedy the excess. This senseless behavior diverts our attention from the true hunger of the body and the mind.”

“The living and vital alliance of Christian families, which supports and embraces in the dynamism of their hospitality the burdens and joys of everyday life, cooperates with the grace of the Eucharist, which is able to create ever new communities with its strength that includes and saves.” The pope concluded, “the Christian family thus shows the true extent of its horizon, which is the horizon of the Mother Church and all humanity, the abandoned and excluded among all peoples”.

The Face of Christ: Join with Your Spouse in Faith

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by Katie Sciba

I just attended my best friend’s wedding in Kansas City. While the entire occasion was lovely and exciting from rehearsal to reception, the wedding Mass itself stood out as most beautiful. One of the most powerful and meaningful aspects of Erin’s nuptials was that her big brother, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, was the primary celebrant. As someone raised under the same roof as the bride, Fr. Ben was able to deliver a more personal homily and offer his kid sister and her new husband the mission they were now charged with living: their marriage should be the Face of Christ to the world and to each other.

And just like that, I was awestruck. The Face of Christ: when we use that phrase to examine our marriages it can only lead to the “peace that surpasses understanding” that St. Paul mentioned in Philippians. Being the Face of Christ through our marriages means that when people see us together – how we treat each other, how we interact with our children, how we speak of each other when one spouse is absent – they should encounter a reflection of Jesus, especially his mercy.

Marriage is hard. But we know that. We know it’s hard when life doesn’t go as hoped or planned, when our beloveds hurt or disappoint us, when we hurt or disappoint them. As imperfect people riddled with dysfunction, we have to know the pain is bound to come; but it’s when we choose to apologize, pardon and let go that we can allow ourselves to be an extension of Christian mercy – to say, “I’m sorry for hurting you,” and in turn be ready with “I forgive you,” following through with compassion and kindness. Jesus offers pardon to the penitent so many times in the Gospels and we’re simply short changing ourselves and our spouses when we don’t do the same.

How, how? How are we supposed to be a channel of infinite mercy as limited people? Simple: prayer. Pray together. Many might widen their eyes at the thought, but the surefire way to imitate Christ’s mercy to each other is to encounter him together; which is more accessible than you think and the effects are transformative. Begin by going one step beyond your current prayer life together – start with a brief “Glory Be” in the mornings, or try attending one additional Mass together during the week. Pray a decade of the Rosary or the whole thing. Pray together as a routine – an unbreakable appointment that you’ll hold each other accountable for attending.

When my husband and I pray together, I feel safe. I feel safely tucked into the heart of God and safe with Andrew. Because when we come together in prayer, we’re being both vulnerable and receptive to each other in a context that we mentally prepare for. We can admit faults, offer apologies and more importantly, forgiveness when we imitate Christ. And because we pray together daily, we make progressive efforts toward knowing God better and the ability to extend mercy to each other. And all that can result from our prayer together is the fulfillment of Fr. Ben’s charge – to be the Face of Christ to the world.

Mercy Me! A Recipe to Make Peace with Yourself and Family

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by Kim Long

I am not a person who relegates ghost stories to All Hallows Eve and then puts them away for a year. I love a good ghost story even at Christmastide. Of course the path has been well paved with Charles Dickens who wrote of Ebenezer Scrooge and his eventual redemption.

Picture, if you will, a small child whose hand is firmly but gently caught in the hand of her mother on a small town street as afternoon gives way to evening and purple and deep orange skies seem to swirl around their feet. They are on the sidewalk in front of a store that no longer exists. The mother is young and vibrant as she smiles and speaks to a neighbor. Christmas trees are lined up like sentries against the walls of the store, stars begin to peep out with their own particular glow and the moon engages in its slow ascent in the sky. Christmas is coming, Christmas is being brought home and Christmas is falling on us like a gentle touch from a loving parent.

This is my favorite Christmas memory, one that time has altered very little. Memories fill this time of the year for me and for many. That memory evokes security as well as excitement, a cold evening and a warm home, a mother and a child, the Christmas Spirit all around us swirling and dancing with everyday chores until they seemed different somehow, no longer quotidian but unique and happening only at this time of year.

Our house smelled of the Scotch pine tree, a pot of stew on the stove and anticipation. Each year we would dress in our best clothes, long dresses for my sister and myself and a miniature suit for our little brother and join the rest of our family who were gathered at my grandmother’s house for a feast unrivaled and gifts wrapped in paper almost too beautiful and well creased to demolish. We returned to our house to await the spoils of Santa’s visit and eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

Memories are wonderful but only tell a part of the story. When the Christmas spirit was not at its peak, harsh words and unkind acts peppered our world and perhaps apologies were left late, in some cases too late. Wounds can run deep,  in some cases never heal  and destroy our future, even our future Christmas celebrations, magical as they are. My mother has long been in heaven so she can no longer be with me for a cup of coffee and a tearful conversation to “work some things out.”

In this year of Mercy we are reminded that we always have recourse. Too often with the penitential nature of Advent not being as focused as it is during Lent, I confess I don’t always attend that penance service or avail myself to the confessional. As I struggle to make peace with my past, as many of us do, this year, a year designated to remind us of God’s mercy, may be the best Christmas gift I could hope for. But I don’t want to trip as I look backwards. Lord lead and guide me as I learn to trust in You and as I attempt to walk in Your light. Help me take the best bits forward and offer them to You as I approach the stable.

Recipe for a Merciful Christmas
Make peace with yourself. Blend the tender forgiven self with family members loved and cherished. Gently fold in the love of the Holy Family for one another and keep it ever in your mind’s eye. Add some favorite memories of the past, but avoid the temptation to “make this Christmas just like it was when you were a child.” It won’t be, so don’t go there as doing so may curdle the mixture. Be open to new traditions with your adult children, friends, parish family and extended family. Attend the parish reconciliation service with an open heart and see it as a true moment for healing. Enjoy the lightness of actually laying down the painful burdens you have been carrying. Celebrate the reason for the season and don’t feel pressured to buy, buy, buy…..what we need has already been purchased. Bake some cookies, sing some carols loudly and, when no one is listening, sing for the joy of it all. Don’t travel too far from the stable. And lastly, remember that mercy extended is priceless.