Monthly Archives: February 2016

Mary’s House: Providing Hope for Pregnant Women

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by Jessica Rinaudo

The pro-life vs. pro-choice debate is a polarizing one, with people passionately defending both sides, but caught in the middle of this debate are often young, scared women who are facing unplanned pregnancies without any support. They are in a terrifying, lonely position and often uneducated about both their options and their pregnancy.

Enter Mary’s House, the newest endeavor championed by L’Anne Sciba on behalf of the Diocese of Shreveport to help these girls make informed decisions about their future and the future of their unborn children.

The idea for this pregnancy care center blossomed in 2013, and over the course of the last three years, it has quickly grown through donations and volunteers, to its official opening on November 20, 2015. Open Friday and Saturday mornings, Mary’s House provides free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, free peer counseling and a wealth of resources to help women with unplanned pregnancies make informed decisions and get the help they need.

When women make an appointment at Mary’s House, they are primarily seeking a pregnancy test and ultrasound to find out how far along they are.
“Our goal is to give them information. You can parent, you can place for adoption or you can have an abortion. If you’re pregnant, those are your options,” said L’Anne. “We try to first gauge, we ask them – there’s a little graph – where on this do you think you are? Are you undecided or are you going to carry? Depending on where they say they are, we talk to them about that.”

Mary’s House asks women to watch short, fact-based videos on their options and try to find out what kind of parenting support they have.

If they are really leaning towards an abortion, then counselors gently tell them about that procedure. “Because girls think, ‘I’m only going to take a pill and it’s gone,’ but they don’t have any idea,” said Sciba. “And the counselor has already gauged how far along they are, and so the counselor can say, ‘At this stage, they will be doing a surgery… This is what the procedure is going to be, it’s not going to be just a pill.”

Counselors encourage these women to consider other options. They show them a short video that talks about adoption, but most of the girls shy away from even considering it.

“There’s a huge stigma on women who feel considering adoption is a selfish choice because they believe that someone would speak poorly of them because they ‘gave their baby up.’ They would rather not have the baby than have to answer to someone about that choice,” said volunteer sonographer Cassidy Rainwater. “I think we just need to help girls know they are giving the biggest gift to somebody else who can’t have a baby, or whatever their circumstance is. There are people who want these babies so badly that it’s a really selfless act.”

L'Anne Sciba, founder of Mary's House, holds a basket of baby goodies that are handed out to pregnant women who visit the pregnancy care center.

“A girl who chooses adoption is so brave – sacrificing her body for nine months so another family can make a home for her baby,” added L’Anne.  “Sadly, the understanding is so negative about adoption still and we are hoping that will change.”

And for girls who choose to carry their pregnancies, Mary’s House is their link for further assistance. Volunteers help women sign up for Medicaid, direct them to doctors who will help them during their pregnancy, as well as partner them with a home health nurse program called Nurse-Family Partnership.

“You enroll  [in the program] before the baby is 28 weeks and a nurse comes in every week and helps you learn how to parent, and checks to make sure you’re ok and see where the baby’s going to be and teaches you how to care for them,” said L’Anne.

One of the most beautiful missions of Mary’s House is to help women see their own value.

“When you take care of the mom, then the baby is going to prosper and be healthy, because the mom goes, ‘I have this gift, I am worthwhile,’” said L’Anne.
“You’re so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. You’re going to get through this. There are plenty of young mothers. You’re not alone. There’s help out there, there’s advice out there. We’re here for you,” Cassidy told one girl, “because being alone and being scared are a major part in making the decision about their pregnancy.”

Cassidy has personally witnessed miracles during her short time volunteering as a sonographer. With tears in her eyes, she relayed the story of a young pregnant mother who was leaning towards terminating her pregnancy. The young woman walked into the ultrasound to find out how far along she was. What she saw there changed her perspective and her life.

“I was able to show her life in her tummy on the screen. And she saw that heartbeat, heard that heartbeat and saw movement and tears just started flowing down her eyes,” said Cassidy.  “She said, ‘I can’t do this.’ I told her, ‘You have options. You have time. You’re not alone. Just give yourself time to digest this and understand and educate yourself before you do anything.’ And she had made her mind up within that 30-second time frame and her life was different from there on. And I thought, ‘Thank you God.’”

There are currently about 20 volunteer peer counselors, 17 nurses and four sonographers at Mary’s House. Everyone who assists there does so purely on a volunteer basis.

“The volunteers who are here now, it really takes courage,” said L’Anne. “They’ve never counseled before. They are mostly just moms, older women who have families. And they just come in and say, ‘I would want to help somebody,’ or ‘I have been in this position,’ or ‘I have had hardship in my life,’ ‘I love young women.”

There are many ways to support the pro-life efforts at Mary’s House, and one of the biggest ways is to attend Bishop Duca’s Annual Pro-Life Banquet on March 16. This event, now in its sixth year, continues to grow and garner support from the community. This year, ALL of the proceeds from the event benefit Mary’s House.

Camille Pauley, co-founder of Healing the Culture, is the keynote speaker for the event. “I know many of you find it hard to find the words to witness your Catholic belief of the tragedy of abortion,” said Bishop Michael Duca. “I personally chose Camille as our presenter because her message will give you the words to give a convincing witness to others and also deepen your personal faith in pro-life issues.”

You can register for this event by completing the registration card here, or by calling 318-868-4441.

And while Mary’s House is currently only open two days a week, with the help of proceeds from the pro-life banquet, they very much want to grow by expanding the number of days they are open and by training nurses in the basics to become sonographers – both of which require financial support.  L’Anne also hopes to one day be able to hire people who can commit more time to Mary’s House.

“Mary’s House is about loving young women. The Church and God want them to have a full life, and the world isn’t telling them that, the world is stealing that. We can help girls know of their worth and that God has a plan for them and we can help them on to the next step. They can have fruitful and happy and full lives,” said L’Anne.

Mary’s House is seeking volunteers for many areas – receptionists, working in the yard, cleaning, office work using Excel and Word, as well as nurses, sonographers, and those interested in training to be peer counselors. If you are interested in being part of this great and growing ministry, or donating to their ministry, please contact L’Anne Sciba at maryshouse.sport@gmail.com.

Pope Names Dallas’ Deshotel as Bishop of Lafayette

Pope Francis has named Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, 64, as bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and accepted the resignation of Bishop C. Michael Jarrell, 75, from pastoral governance of that diocese. Bishop Deshotel has served as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Dallas since 2010.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, February 17, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

John Douglas Deshotel was born in Kinder, Louisiana, January 6, 1952. He attended the University of Dallas, where he earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Dallas on May 13, 1978.

In addition to his many and varied parish assignments, he also served as vice rector at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, TX.

Charles Michael Jarrell was born May 15, 1940 in Opelousas, Louisiana, and ordained a priest of Lafayette on June 3, 1967. Pope John Paul II named him bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, on December 29, 1992. He was ordained a bishop March 4, 1993. He has served as bishop of Lafayette since 2002.

First Jubilee Audience: Mercy and Mission

by Vatican Information Services

Vatican City, January 30, 2016 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the first of his Jubilee audiences to the theme “Mercy and Mission.” The Jubilee audiences are an initiative of the Holy Father during the Holy Year, enabling those who are unable to attend the Wednesday general audiences to participate in his catechesis. On this occasion more than 22,000 people were present in St. Peter’s Square.

“Day by day we enter into the life of this Holy Year of Mercy. With His grace, the Lord guides our steps as we cross the Holy Door and comes towards us so as to stay always with us, despite our shortcomings and our contradictions. Let us never tire of asking His forgiveness, as when we are weak His closeness makes us stronger and allows us to live our faith with greater joy.”

Referring to the close link between mercy and mission, Francis underlined that as Christians we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel. “When we receive good news or have a good experience it is natural that we wish to communicate it to others. … The joy we feel inspires us to do so. It should be the same when we encounter the Lord. Indeed, the concrete sign we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we feel in communicating this to others too. This is not proselytism, but rather it is a gift: I give you what makes me joyful. Reading the Gospel we see that this was also the experience of the first disciples. … Encountering Jesus is the same as encountering His love. This love transforms us and makes us able to transmit to others the strength that it gives us.”

“We could say that the day of our Baptism each one of us is given another name alongside the one we receive from our mother and father, and this name is ‘Christopher,’ which means ‘Christ-bearer.’ The name of our approach, as bearers of Christ’s joy and mercy,” remarked the Holy Father. “The Christian is a bearer of Christ. … But the mercy we receive from the Father is not given to us as a private consolation, but rather makes us instruments to enable others to receive the same gift. There is a wonderful circularity between mercy and mission.”

“Living mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and being missionaries enables us increasingly to grow in God’s mercy. So, let us take seriously the fact of being Christians, and let us commit ourselves to living as believers, because only in this way may the Gospel touch the people’s hearts, opening them to receive the grace of love,” concluded the Holy Father.

St. Joseph Altars: An Italian Tradition in Churches and Homes

St. Joseph Altars are celebrated each year on or near March 19th, the Feast Day of St. Joseph. The St. Joseph Altar, sometimes called St. Joseph Table, is an Italian tradition brought to us by Sicilian immigrants dating back to the 1800’s.

As the story goes, the tradition started after Sicily  experienced a very long drought which caused crops to be  lost and the fields to become barren. Sicilians had little to eat and survived on fava beans. Fava beans, used as livestock feed, were  served at their table and the farmers felt lucky the beans grew in the drought conditions. They prayed to St. Joseph, their patron saint, to send rain. When their prayers were answered and  rains came, the crops flourished. In thanksgiving for their answered prayers, the people built an altar honoring St. Joseph. They decorated the altar filling it full of fresh fruits and vegetables. All were invited and welcome to eat from the now bountiful harvest.

The Altar is embraced for a host of one’s own personal and private reasons. There are many altars still today built in homes and churches with no two alike. But you will find each to be  representative of the rich traditions and customs passed down over the years to celebrate this wonderful  family event.
Our altar, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, depicts the life of Joseph. It is decorated with statues, relics and an array of handmade Italian cookies, along with lots of fresh produce and pasta brought by the children of St. Joseph Catholic School. A special dinner of meatless spaghetti sauce served over pasta, with stuffed artichokes, omelets, salad, fried fish and bread completes the meal. Bags of Italian cookies, medals and lots of fava beans are given to take home.
To give the children a better understanding of St. Joseph as a carpenter, we will offer a carpentry wood working station just for them!

 St. Joseph Feast Day Events

St Joseph Chaplet: Saturday, March 12th, 5:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Mass with Bishop Duca: Sunday, March 13th, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Blessing of the Altar: Sunday, March 13th, 10:45 a.m.

Meals served: Sunday, March 13th,11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

St Joseph Catholic Church  invites you, your friends, and your family to join us!
211 Atlantic Avenue
Shreveport, LA  71105

by Susan Prest

A Message From Bishop Duca

Appeal Sunday occurred last month on February 21st, and I want to take time to thank all of our generous donors who have pledged their support of our Appeal during this “Year of Mercy.”  If you have not yet provided your pledge to this year’s Appeal, I encourage you to by stating that there is no better way to celebrate this Extraordinary Jubilee Year than by supporting our Appeal and all it provides for the faithful of our entire diocese.

The month of March remains very important to our Appeal campaign as our places of worship are conducting follow-up efforts to secure additional Appeal gifts as we work together to provide for the people of our diocese.

Please take some time now to consider your pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. A pledge card can be found on page 30, and you may use this to facilitate your annual gift to our Appeal. Those making pledges this month will receive their first Appeal statement in the month of April.

Godparents & Sponsors: Choosing Them, Their Roles and Commitments

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Godparents play an important role in the lives of those coming into the Church at baptism or through the sacraments of initiation, and sponsors do the same for those being confirmed or catechumens going through the R.C.I.A. catechumenate. Godparents are the persons selected by the parents (or the elect in R.C.I.A.), with the consent of the pastor, to accompany the child during baptism, or the elect during the rites of initiation. Godparents make a lifelong commitment to be a spiritual mentor to the child or catechumen.

The Rite of Baptism indicates that: “Each child may have a godfather (patrinus) and a godmother (matrina); the word “godparents” is used in the rite to describe both.”  The godparents accompany the parents to present the child to the Church for baptism.  The Rite of Baptism asks the godparents if they are ready to help the parents of the child in their duty of training the child in the practice of the faith. The lives of the godparents are to be examples of faith to inspire the child. Parents and godparents renew their baptismal vows prior to the baptism of the child.  One of the godparents receives the lighted candle on behalf of the child.

The Sacramental Guidelines for the Diocese of Shreveport have requirements for godparents:

“At least one godparent is necessary.  A godparent must be Catholic, 16 years old and confirmed. There is to be only one male sponsor or one female sponsor or one of each.” (Canon 873 and 874).

The godparent must be in good standing with the Church, living a life consistent with faith and with the responsibility of a godparent. Those designated as godparents must also be members of the Catholic Church and be canonically free to carry out this office.

There are sponsors for Confirmation and sponsors for catechumens. In Confirmation there should be a sponsor for each of those to be confirmed.  Sponsors bring the confirmands to receive the sacrament, present them to the minister for the anointing, and will later help them to fulfill their baptismal promises faithfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit whom they have received.

In view of contemporary pastoral circumstances, it is desirable that the godparent at baptism, if available, also be the sponsor at confirmation.  This expresses more clearly the link between baptism and confirmation, and also makes the function and responsibility of the sponsor more effective.  Nonetheless the option of choosing a special sponsor for confirmation is not excluded.  Even the parents themselves may present their children for confirmation.

Pastors will see that the sponsors, chosen by the candidates and their families, are spiritually fit to take on this responsibility and have these qualities:
a. Sufficient maturity to fulfill their function;

b. Membership in the Catholic Church and their own reception of Christian initiation through baptism, confirmation and eucharist;
c. Freedom from any impediment of law to their fulfilling the office of sponsor.

R.C.I.A. sponsors are those persons chosen to accompany the candidates when they seek admission to the catechumenate and remain with them to oversee their progress during the catechumenate process until the rite of election; they may also be selected as godparents.  R.C.I.A. sponsors are persons who have known and assisted the candidates and stand as witnesses to the catechumens’ moral character, faith and intention.  R.C.I.A. sponsors have the same criteria as sponsors for confirmation, and they are chosen and assigned by the parish and not by the catechumen.  The catechumen, once his formation is nearly complete, will choose a godparent, who might be the sponsor or might be someone different than his sponsor.

Godparents and sponsors are expected to be expert at living like Catholics. They do not have to be saints or theologians, but they should be churchgoing, active members of the parish. Godparents and sponsors help children and catechumens learn a new way of living in the world.

by Dianne Rachal, Director of the Office of Worship

Good Friday Way of the Cross

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As Americans we are called to stand with justice, yet it is not often that we have the opportunity as an individual to make a clear and decisive public statement in support of this essential virtue, especially appropriate now during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This Good Friday (March 25, 2016) you have such an opportunity!  We invite you to join others throughout Shreveport in proclaiming justice and mercy in a very public forum by a special “Way of the Cross” that seeks to unite the suffering of Christ with the suffering that exists in the world today.

This Good Friday remembrance will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church on Texas Street in Downtown Shreveport. Local social justice and service organizations will offer prayers, hymns and reflections at each of the 14 stations. Participants will walk a little more than a mile through Downtown Shreveport while stopping at various sites. This annual devotion will focus on the passion of Christ as reflected in the eyes of those who suffer abandonment, abuse, illness and poverty.

Bishop Michael Duca will begin the procession with an opening prayer. The participating organizations come from a broad spectrum of creeds, backgrounds and agendas. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the sponsoring group. Those interested in attending this ecumenical service should gather by 9:00 a.m. on Good Friday in the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church. The service will last approximately an hour and 40 minutes and ample parking is available at the church. Please come and join in this prayerful and reflective devotion of Christ’s passion that proclaims a spirit of justice and mercy to be witnessed by all His followers.

by Brian Burgess, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

New Chapel for Holy Angels

A rendering showing a view of the main entrance to “All Saints Chapel” to be located at Holy Angels. Design by Prevot Design Services.

Holy Angels Residential Facility has been helping North Louisiana’s individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach their fullest potential of wellness, both spiritually and otherwise, for more than 50 years. The chapel at the head of the campus has been the beacon of that faith-based service since day one, but plans are underway to replace the existing chapel with a new structure because of the ravages of both time and the Louisiana climate.
Caroline Gardner is a member of Holy Angels’ Chapel Committee and the Champions Advisory Committee, a group of young professionals dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities.

“Holy Angels’ history is intricately and necessarily intertwined with the Catholic diocese, having been established by Bishop Greco in the 60s,” she said. “One need only visit Holy Angels’ campus once to know that God is ever present on that campus and in the hearts and smiles of each and every resident.”
Gardner’s aunt, Elizabeth “Beth” O’Brien (or Boo, as Gardner referred to her), was one of the first residents at Holy Angels back in 1965, where she resided until her death in 2010. The O’Brien family’s commitment to the ministry of Holy Angels stems from deep roots, as they were one of three original donors who provided Holy Angels with the beautiful 62-acre property where the residents and program participants currently live and work.

“For me, this chapel project embodies my most spiritual moments, in that it captures not only my Catholicism and my faith, but also my memories with both Boo and our beloved Father (Murray) Clayton, who used to regularly say Mass at the Holy Angels chapel.  Obviously, our Catholic faith, and spirituality in general, is very important to my family. On top of that, we were blessed with our sweet Boo, who, like all of the residents at Holy Angels, was truly one of God’s perfect angels.”

The existing chapel couldn’t be saved because of cracks in the foundation.  “Although all of the problems with the existing chapel are the result of normal wear and tear, its current condition is unacceptable,” Gardner said. “Holy Angels and its residents deserve better and we are proud and excited to be able to move forward with this project.”

A new chapel will be built and dedicated as “All Saints Chapel” in honor of Beth O’Brien, whose birthday was on All Saints Day.  “It is because of my Aunt Boo that I truly understand what unconditional love is and how it looks and feels,” Gardner said.  “Rebuilding the Holy Angels chapel, in Boo’s memory and in her honor, is the most spiritually guided gift that I can imagine giving to Holy Angels.”

The new chapel will incorporate some of the historic elements from the old structure, such as windows, statues and Stations of the Cross, but it will also afford the opportunity to meet requirements for safety, accessibility and comfort.

“The main updates will include more handicapped-friendly seating, which will also be flexible so that all of our residents can comfortably sit where they please,” said Gardner. “There will be wider aisles, better bathrooms, and just an overall atmospheric update. We want the chapel to have a light, welcoming, simple, spiritual feel. And we want each and every resident to feel welcome and comfortable at Mass.”

“The level of individualized care and love provided by Holy Angels’ staff, to the residents, is truly remarkable,” Gardner said. “Stories abound of residents who, before moving to Holy Angels, struggled in various ways, and after becoming a part of this amazing facility have opened up and improved in ways previously unimaginable.”

“Some of the residents are lacking in family support,” added Gardner. “It’s important for our community members to recognize the unique opportunity to step up and support these residents. In doing so, I can personally promise that the love and happiness you bring into their lives will be returned to you tenfold.”

“Knowing my Aunt Boo and her capacity for unconditional love was the greatest gift God gave me, and I am forever grateful,” Gardner said. “That same love abounds throughout Holy Angels today.”

For more information about Holy Angels, visit laholyangels.org or call 318-797-8500.

by Susan Reeks

Loyola’s Daigle Launches Healthcare Internship Program

Rhodes Daigle, a senior at Loyola College Prep and parishioner of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, takes seriously the charge of St. Ignatius to be a man for others.  In an effort both to be fully equipped to serve those in need and to gain a more thorough understanding of the healthcare system, he has developed and launched a new internship program. Riley Waddell, Assistant Administrator of Business Development at Willis Knighton, approached Daigle about partnering with the Willis Knighton system, and together they collaborated to develop a syllabus for the school year.

“I spoke with Ms. Hymel [LCP counselor] and Principal LeBlanc about the idea of health care,” says Daigle, “Shreveport is a hub of medical activity, and we wanted to approach things not just from a research perspective, but more from the ground up.” Both Hymel and LeBlanc immediately saw the value in such a partnership for Loyola’s students.

Through this program, Daigle travels among four Willis Knighton campuses instead of attending a seventh hour class at Loyola. Each week, he observes and participates in a variety of different departments that keep the hospitals up and running every day, from hands-on medical care to administrative procedure.  Most recently he had an opportunity to work in the IT department, learning about the different complex services and systems.

“Learning how these systems not only work with each other, but also their need to comply with the ever-changing federal and state mandates, all the while maintaining patient satisfaction,” has given Daigle a new appreciation for the many factors that go into running a healthcare facility smoothly.  Daigle credits his experience at the hospital for helping him learn the essential elements of running a business efficiently.

In addition to the practical knowledge he has gained, Daigle has developed a greater sense of the impact the healthcare system has on individuals and on a community.  He recognizes that unlike most businesses, healthcare affects everyone.

“No matter where you are in life,” says Daigle, “you or someone you love will be sick and need care.  Our generation is responsible for caring for a generation who is living longer than any before them. How do we administer care and compassion to those who need it most while at the same time compete for the best doctors, purchase the best equipment and obtain the best technology?  We have a moral obligation to answer these questions and to meet this challenge.”

In developing this program, Daigle has created a path for other students to follow. Those students who are interested in participating in this partnership will be placed through a process developed by the Loyola and Willis Knighton administrators to ensure the proper fit for each prospective student. Through this internship, Daigle has not only established himself as a difference maker in the school and in the community, but he has also created an unmatched opportunity in our area for current and future Loyola students.

by Lisa Cooper, Loyola College Prep

Congratulations to Students of the Year

The Students of the Year Awards Program is designed to recognize outstanding elementary, middle/junior and high school students. This program, patterned after the Teacher of the Year Awards Program, is an excellent opportunity to recognize from each school system those students who have demonstrated excellent academic achievement, leadership ability and citizenship. The Students of the Year Awards Program is sponsored by the Louisiana State Superintendent through the State Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Congratulations to the following district winners:

5th Grade:  Anna Toms, First Baptist Church School
8th Grade:  Porter May, First Baptist Church School
12th Grade: Robert Clark, St. Frederick High School

These students will continue to the regional screening process on February 22, 2016 in Baton Rouge, LA.

Congratulations to our Diocesan Student of the Year winners 2015-2016:

Aidan Duffield, St. Joseph School

Peter Vanchiere, St. John Berchmans School

Robert Clark, St. Frederick High School

5th grade: Aidan Duffield, St. Joseph School
8th grade: Peter Vanchiere, St. John Berchmans School
12th grade: Robert Clark, St. Frederick High Schol