Monthly Archives: March 2016

Campus Catholicism: Keeping Faith in Higher Education

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With graduation on the horizon, students are all but jumping out of their seats ready to shake the dust off and embark on the next adventure – college life. And while high schoolers may fantasize about dorm life and late nights, parents are praying knowing what the next four years have in store.

It’s during young adulthood when boy meets girl, lasting friendships are formed, kids discover their careers and natural gifts. It’s this time too that can make or break their faith.

With so much hanging in the balance, a student’s college years are the time to pursue Catholic living, because a life rooted in Jesus is a life of abiding peace and certainty of God’s will. Out from under mom and dad’s roof, now is the time for students to claim their faith, discover things they didn’t know, ask tough questions and make it their own. During the college years, many students leave the pew and very few return. In a time when so much formation is needed, what are some opportunities to stay true to the faith?

When considering higher education, Catholic universities may not seem like an immediate option, but the quality of scholarship wrapped in faith is one that can fortify a student’s life – from relationships to careers. Stephen Minnis, J.D., President of Benedictine College (B.C.) in Atchison, KS, says the school is thriving as a whole because of its Catholic identity. “We are mission driven and our purpose is to educate men and women in a community of faith and scholarship.” Faith and scholarship – the two naturally go hand-in-hand and will tend to the common life occurrences for young adults.

A little closer to home, the University of Dallas (U.D.) offers community strong in academics that arms its students in faith. James McGill, M.A. is an instructor in the School of Ministry at U.D. and asserted confidently that Catholic education must prepare students to be missionaries once they step off campus. “You can’t seek a Utopian Catholic society,” he said. “I don’t think the goal is to create the idea that you’re looking for a safe place where nothing that threatens or challenges faith is ever going to cross; you’re looking for a place that’s committed to give you the ability to negotiate the complexities of life as a faith-filled adult.”

McGill continued, “The genius of Christ’s ministry is people lived messy lives and he brought them to a bigger insight by meeting them where they were.”

A nail-on-the-head point to make. A recent Pew Research study found that 80% of college freshmen report being active in their faith, but by senior year that number dwindles down to 18% with a low return rate. At a time of faith crisis, schools like Benedictine and University of Dallas seek to answer questions and build faith in students rather than let it die.

But what if students have big plans for a state or secular private school? Maintaining and developing Catholic identity is just as possible, though the general approach will differ.

Bishop Michael Duca spent nine years as the chaplain and campus minister at Southern Methodist University (SMU), and during his time there he witnessed a joyful, spirit-filled student body. “Even though it is a Methodist University, almost 25 per cent of the campus students were Catholic,” said Bishop Duca.  “The most important gathering of our Catholic students was at Sunday Mass, but equally important was having an office and a visible presence.”

Bishop Duca also said that he was blessed to work with two women who served with him as campus ministers and they were always available to the students.

Catholic students often worked together to create a faith community. “We offered lectures, social events, daily Mass during Advent and Lent on the SMU campus,” said Bishop Duca. “We involved students in all areas of Church and liturgical life.  We also found ways to provide a Catholic presence at university events, parades and homecoming events. I was often asked to give a Catholic point of view to an open discussion planned by a campus group.”

Victoria Nguyen is a Neuroscience Major at Tulane and though Catholicism isn’t woven into the whole campus culture, she promises there are plenty of gems to be found. “FOCUS [Fellowship of Catholic University Students] is wonderful! We have three FOCUS missionaries…and they do everything from Bible studies, programming, serving at Mass and just hanging out with us.” Tulane’s Catholic Center is the place to go to find like-minded friends; students look forward to the weekly dinner following Sunday Mass. “It’s a really big thing and there’s always a[n]…announcement about the menu of the night and the event afterwards,” Victoria mentioned. “Sometimes we have speakers or praise and worship after. About 75-100 people come to supper and it’s awesome!”

In Shreveport, LSUS has a Catholic Student Union on campus that according to the school site “explores the journey of faith through prayer, worship, fellowship and service.”

The Diocese of Shreveport’s own Theology on Tap events in Shreveport, Monroe and Mansfield are fantastic ways to hang out with fellow young adult Catholics and gain some wisdom from featured speakers; but don’t underestimate the power of participating in your own parish, advises senior Chelsea Feducia. “I go to Mass every week [at Mary, Queen of Peace in Bossier City] where I recently have had the privilege of being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I teach eighth grade Sunday School and I participate in ACTS events around the diocese.  There’s always Vacation Bible School, and I absolutely love volunteering… every summer for the children of my parish! It’s so fun!” Chelsea has found that community combined with personal devotion has been the key to developing her life as a Catholic, mentioning that frequent adoration and spiritual reading are powerful nourishment to her soul.

Louisiana Tech has a thriving Catholic Campus ministry, led by an elected leadership team of students and mentored by Brother Mike Ward, OFM. Catholic students at Tech gather together regularly for retreats, community service projects, pro-life events and even annual mission trips to Guatemala. Student Courtney Smith says, “Association of Catholic Tech Students (ACTS) members are encouraged to participate in all three of the retreats sponsored by ACTS throughout the year. The retreat programs at ACTS are just one aspect of the many opportunities for a Tech student to be Catholic at Tech.”

Likewise the University of Louisiana Monroe not only has a strong Catholic Campus ministry, but also a chapel that holds regular Masses for students.

“A good campus ministry on a Catholic college or secular campus will provide a needed connection to a student in a time of transition,” said Bishop Duca. “Many students discover how much they depended on their parents as their inspiration for getting involved in faith programs. They also find it surprisingly unnerving to go to Mass for the first time in a new church where they do not yet know any one. A good campus ministry will help provide Catholic students a home away from home, invite the student to take a more active part and guide them in making a more intentional decision in living their faith as a Catholic.”

Regardless of a student’s higher education destination, the most important study to pursue is faith. Questions will arise, life will change, and striking out on their own gives them an ability to own Catholicism like never before. In a time when many students fall away from the faith in their college years, considering schools and connecting with Catholic campus ministries that provide a strong Catholic community to care for the whole person – body, mind, and soul, is a sure way to beat the statistics.

by Katie Sciba & Jessica Rinaudo

Kids’ Connection: World Day of Prayer for Vocations

The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is Sunday, April 17, and on this day we join together to pray especially for priests, deacons and religious sisters and brothers and their ministries and work for God.

Click the image to download the page for a list of ideas for getting kids involved with vocations.

 

St. Terence Celebrates 20 Years

It has been 20 years since Bishop William B Friend blessed and dedicated the new church building of St. Terence (January 17, 1996) located on Toledo Bend Lake. Mass was con-celebrated by Fr. David Richter and Fr. William Carey, pastor.

At that time, Bishop Friend thanked all the volunteers who built the church. He suggested that they prepare for the future as it was a growing area and a larger church would be needed. St. Terence has indeed experienced growth during the past 20 years. Attendance has increased from about 30 people to approximately 100 on a regular basis. Beautiful weekend weather will see this increase to about 150 and holiday attendance exceeds 200 to 250. This is above capacity, thus late comers attend Mass outside the building.

Bishop Friend also encouraged the faithful to use St. Terence for more than just Mass once a week. Bishop Friend said, “There are many things you can do at St. Terence and you don’t need the pastor of St. John’s to drive out here every time.” This encouragement led to spiritual growth at St. Terence.

With the help of parishioners, a baptismal font was donated shortly after dedication. A Rosary with Stations of the Cross during Lent on Fridays began in 1997. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy began every Friday in 2005. A picture of the Divine Mercy was donated. Stations of the Cross (through the eyes of The Blessed Virgin Mary) is included during Lent. This continues every Friday. A votive candle prayer stand was donated in 2012. A Chalice for the Celebrant was needed; a new one was donated. The Infant Jesus of Prague statue was recovered from storage and a talented seamstress of St. Terence made new clothing for it. The Infant is now displayed in the church for veneration, properly dressed with colors of the period. A new tabernacle was donated, as were stained glass windows to beautify and portray a Christian atmosphere.

This has brought us to the present and the 20th anniversary of St. Terence. The celebration was held on February 21 at 8:00 with a Mass of thanksgiving for all the blessings for St. Terence and volunteers who built the church through their time, talent and treasure.

A highlight of the event was a dinner served at noon in the church hall with a great variety of dishes prepared by St. Terence and St. John’s attendees.  It was a joy to see and visit with several of the volunteers who had moved away. It was also a pleasure to have so many of the St. John’s congregation who drove out to celebrate this occasion.

by E.B. “Buddy” Polson

Safe Environment: What the Church is Doing to Protect Young People

“Awareness” is defined as having knowledge; conscious; informed; alert. This is the heart of our Safe Environment Program, and it has been our guide and direction since 2002. From the U. S. bishops to the children in our church and school programs, we have first and foremost strived to obtain and share knowledge on a consistent basis on how we can protect those who are in harm’s way. Unfortunately sexual abuse is not uncommon, as one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.1

Today, 14 years after the start of our Safe Environment Program, Virtus™ – Protecting God’s Children, the news continues to remind us to be aware and steadfast in keeping children and vulnerable adults safe from abuse. With the Oscar win for the movie Spotlight and the recent news of the grand jury report from Altoona, Pennsylvania on priest abuses, we know we must always be aware and vigilant on the issue of sexual abuse.

When the news broke in 2002 on the priest abuses, the U. S. bishops met in Dallas to discuss how they would address this difficult situation. On June 14 of that same year, the bishops approved a document that would set in motion the plan to help keep children safe from harm and what must be done if abuse is discovered. That document is the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. From it two important documents were created and implemented in each diocese.

The first is an abuse policy that stipulates how the diocese would act and react to child sexual abuse reports. This would include the formation of a review board made of volunteers to help the local bishop respond to possible abuse issues as they arise.

The second document is the Code of Pastoral Conduct. This document is designed to show safe and appropriate boundaries for those who volunteer with children and all diocesan employees in their service to the Church.

From the charter each diocese in the country has developed a Safe Environment Program to help keep children and vulnerable adults safe from harm. These programs work on two levels: adults and children.

With adults there are two components: training and background. With children, age appropriate training is the main focus.  Over the life of our program the Diocese of Shreveport has trained and background checked over 7,000 adults, and annually trains over 4,000 children who are present in our parish catechesis programs and schools.

In a statement on the Protection of Children, Bishop Edward J. Burns of Juneau, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, said, “As stated in the Charter, we are to cooperate with law-enforcement agencies, permanently remove those who have offended and effectively create a safe environment for our children. Only with vigilance can we ensure that children are kept safe and so allow the Church to help our people in a process of healing and address the mistrust that rises from these cases.”

This is our awareness, there will always be those who wish to do harm to children and vulnerable adults. We in turn will always do what we can to protect them.

1.Finkelhor, D., Hotaling, G., Lewis, I. A., & Smith, C. (1990). Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics and risk factors. Child Abuse & Neglect 14, 19-28. doi:10.1016/0145-2134(90)90077-7

by Michael Straub, Safe Environment Coordinator

The Holy Year of Mercy and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting, and dirty because it has been out on the streets.” – Pope Francis.

Meeting our neighbors in need, on the streets and where they live, is not only the goal of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), but it is also what Jesus commands us to do.

This Year of Mercy speaks directly to the heart of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Our efforts are directed to bringing both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to the streets in our own local communities.

Founded in 1833 by Blessed Frederic Ozanam, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has grown to be an international Catholic lay-organization dedicated to not only serving the poor in our local communities, but also to providing many other acts of kindness. The St. Vincent de Paul motto is “no work of charity is foreign to the Society.”

But let’s back up a minute and understand, briefly, how the Society came into being, and then look ahead and see what it is doing today.  Historically, it was the time of the post French Revolution, of Victor Hugo, and the setting for Les Miserables. While attending law school at the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, Frederic Ozanam joined a student group that would meet to discuss religion and social issues of the day.
During one of these meetings, a friend named Jean Broet confronted Frederic with a challenge. In a heated argument, he told Frederic that the Church was once a great Church, but “what is your Church doing now? What is it doing for the poor?”

Frederic accepted the challenge. And with that, the Society was born. He reached out to others for guidance and adopted St. Vincent de Paul, known as the Father of the Poor, as its patron. Frederic is quoted as saying “we are not blessed with two separate lives—one for seeking the truth, and the other for putting it into practice.”

Internationally, there are 700,000 Vincentians in 150 countries. Catholic Digest listed it at number 1 of the “Top Five Charities You Should Know About.”

Here in the Diocese of Shreveport there are 22 conferences and 300 Vincentians.  Last year, we served over 21,000 neighbors in need and made 3,100 home visits.  Without exception, every Vincentian will tell you that the blessings and growth we receive in our own spirituality from the people we serve is much greater than anything we can hope to do for them.

This is part one of a four-part series, which will introduce you to the works, history and people who influenced SVdP.  Next Month: Sister Rosalie Rendu and her impact on the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana Opens Monroe Office

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Catholic Charities of North Louisiana has established its Monroe office to meet the needs of those living in Monroe and surrounding areas. The office is located at 3208 Concordia (across from Our Lady of Fatima Church) and will offer a variety of programs and services.

Q&A with Joann Worley, Program Coordinator for CCNLA’s Monroe office

Q. Can you tell us about yourself?
A: I am a cradle Catholic who grew up in a military family and relocated frequently. I earned BSN and MSN degrees in nursing. I have been married for 40 years and have two sons, two wonderful daughters-in-law and three grandchildren. I am a life-long member of Jesus the Good Shepherd Church in Monroe Professionally, I have worked in the home health field for almost 40 years.

Q. What are your plans for the Catholic Charities Monroe office?
A: While immediate financial assistance in the areas of housing and utilities are urgent, education is one way to avoid the financial crises and budget woes that many of our clients experience. We will also offer long-term financial coaching. The “Money School” will offer education on how to make the best money decisions regarding budget making and tracking expenses, while taking into consideration monies available. The Emergency Assistance Program will provide need-based assistance with rent, utilities, food and other daily needs as well as referrals to other local agencies that may be able to assist. Our immigration advocates will work with individuals who need help navigating complicated immigration forms and documents, educate them about their rights and responsibilities in order for them to be successful in our country, and help them complete documents needed to change their immigration standing. We also will help them understand the requirements necessary for them and their families to gain legal status and successfully live in our community.

Q. What needs do you think CCNLA will address in Monroe?
A: Education is the top need as it is the key to getting out and staying out of poverty. Consider the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” By becoming actively involved in one’s own life and circumstances, there is a greater likelihood that positive change will occur.

Q. How do you want to work with the Catholic community and community at large?
A: It will be vital to involve all of our parishes in the northeast as poverty, homelessness and hunger are not just issues found in Monroe. Poverty knows no specific borders, creed, race, age or sex.  Poverty is everywhere. Volunteering to help in even the smallest way will be vital in making a difference in the lives of the poor. Partnering with businesses in the community in order to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ will bring an added dimension of involvement making success more likely.

 Q. How can people help grow CCNLA in Monroe?
A: 1. By praying for us in the work we do. There is no substitute for prayer, as we know the power of prayer is vital for success. 2. By being a volunteer. Come and reach out to those in need. 3. Contribute money to us through our Matthew 25 Donor Program or simply make a one-time contribution.

Q. In what way has your Catholic faith prepared you for this role?
A: Our beautiful Catholic faith has always taught that the dignity of man must always be respected regardless of age, race, creed or socio-economic status. Being able to provide different educational programs and linking our clients’ needs with the right services will be a step in the right direction toward making a difference in the lives of the impoverished in our community. Our faith demands we feed the hungry and thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, comfort the ill and visit the prisoner. Catholic Charities is in a unique position to address these needs.

Q. What are you most excited about in this new journey?
A: I am most excited about the community partnerships we will be developing in order to improve and impact the lives of the most vulnerable among us and the prospect of bringing hope to a situation where there has previously been none. I’m thankful to be given the opportunity to serve God’s church.

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Summer Camps Coming for Middle and High School Youth

Catholic Summer Camp for High School Youth, June 3-5  
A.J. Graham, 28, attended Youthleader, a Catholic leadership program for high school students, over 10 years ago. And yet A.J., now a middle school teacher living in Odessa, TX, said that he clearly recalls the profound impact the program made in shaping his Catholic identity.

“I remember being so overwhelmed with the realization that God gives us our strengths and talents, and He wants us to learn to use those gifts through our active participation in His Church,” said A.J. “I learned so many important skills, had a great time, and I became good friends with Catholic teenagers from other parishes. Everything I learned during that week at YouthLeader prepared me to go back and to become extremely involved in my own parish and also in diocesan, regional and national Catholic youth events.”

YouthLeader, which is offered through the Center for Ministry Development (CMD), will be held June 3-5 at the Gospel, Inc. retreat facility in Ruston. The nationally-acclaimed program is sponsored by the Diocese of Shreveport’s Campus, Youth and Young Adult Ministry office.

Angela Behrens, a longtime youth ministry leader at St. Frances Cabrini parish in Granbury, TX, said that she has brought teens to YouthLeader for approximately 10 years, and is grateful for the ways in which the program helps participants to deepen their personal relationship with Christ while equipping them to serve in leadership roles in church and in student government, clubs, music programs, sports teams and service organizations.

“YouthLeader helped me to develop a core group of excellent leaders in my youth ministry program,” said Angela. “It is a week filled with the Holy Spirit, where young people can learn, pray, laugh, play and grow together. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Teens entering their sophomore, junior and senior years of high school and their adult leaders may register through their parish or school. The cost for the program is $150 per person. For more information, visit www.dioshpt.org/ministries/youth-young-adult-ministry/ or contact Kevin Prevou at 318-219-7258 or at kprevou@dioshpt.org

Catholic Summer Camp for Middle School Youth, June 27 – July 1

Julie Caldwell, a parishioner at St. Paschal in West Monroe, is looking forward to this summer thanks to an exciting new opportunity that will be offered for the first time to all middle school-aged youth of our diocese.

“Catholic kids here in the ‘Bible Belt’ are used to seeing their Protestant friends go off to camp. It’s great to think that we will be bringing in something for our Catholic youth, especially for this age group,” she said.  “We’re really excited to be a part of this effort.”

Julie is one of a large team of St. Paschal parishioners who are working together to coordinate “Just5Days” June 27 through July 1 at St. Frederick High School in Monroe. The program, consisting of daily service experiences, prayer, hands-on learning activities, community building and plenty of fun, will be led by staff members from the Center for Ministry Development (CMD), a Catholic non-profit organization that promotes the development of ministry and catechesis with youth and families through leadership formation, service learning and resources rooted in Catholic tradition and Scripture.

Middle-school youth who are entering 7th, 8th or 9th grade are eligible to attend. Participants may register as part of a parish or school team, and will be chaperoned by adult leaders and CMD staff throughout the week as the students take part in community service at nursing homes, food pantries, shelters and other agencies in the Monroe area.

Evenings will include time for meals, games, small group time, music, prayer and faith sharing. Genni Sayers, a youth ministry leader at Holy Family parish in Fort Worth, TX, said “It’s a fun and engaging way for young adolescents to learn about this important aspect of our shared Catholic identity, our commitment to service and ministry.”

Kevin Prevou, director of the diocesan Campus, Youth and Young Adult Ministry office, encourages pastors, parents, Catholic educators and ministry leaders to consider registering a group of any size to participate in the program. The cost is $285 per person and includes all meals, snacks, lodging and program supplies. For more information about Just5Days, visit www.dioshpt.org/ministries/youth-young-adult-ministry/ or contact Kevin at 318-219-7258 or at kprevou@dioshpt.org.

by Nicki Prevou

Knights of Columbus Feed Flood Victims and First Responders

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The stormy days of March 9 through 13 will be a time to remember when the “Flood of 2016” was in full force, impacting thousands of lives across north Louisiana.  As the waters rose at an alarming rate, over 3,500 homes were placed on a Mandatory Evacuation Order in Caddo and Bossier parishes.  Schools and some businesses closed as the waters continued to rise, and those evacuated moved into local shelters.
Zac Burson, a St. Jude Parishioner and a member of the Knights of Columbus, saw the first responders working hard to try to stop the waters from flooding out buildings and jumped into action: he made a large pot of jambalaya to go out and feed those in need.  As the unbelievable size of the devastation continued to swell, Zac reached out to Chuck Bennett, who, with the assistance of Bob Bradeen and Paul Murray, were able to load up the Bossier Knights of Columbus Cooking Trailer and enabled them to feed and serve even greater numbers of people.

With the help of Rebecca Nichols, of the Salvation Army of North West Louisiana, Paul was able to secure a location at the Emergency Operation Center in Bossier City located down the street from the nationally televised Red Chute Bayou at the foot of Dogwood subdivision to setup their operation.

“They originally told us the food was for 125 people,” said Paul Murray, Deputy Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus Council 4873. “Luckily, we Knights, when it comes to food, we like a lot of food, so we always over buy.”

And it’s a good thing they did.  “We got there on a Saturday morning and started serving. And that day we served about 400 meals and then the next day we came in and we served, all together it was about 830 meals that we made in that time frame,” said Paul.

“Mostly what we did, was the Salvation Army truck would come in and say, ‘We need 200 meals,’ and we would put them together and box them up and they would go distribute them,” he said.

More than 20 volunteers banded together, cooking endlessly for two days to feed first responders, rescue workers, members of the National Guard, Air Force, city police and sheriff’s department. And of course, they fed the displaced residents who needed a hot meal while they waited to see what damage the water would do to their homes.

“Everyone was so thankful. You know what we’re doing is just a small part compared to what the large portion of people – the responders are doing,” said Paul.  “For us it was a huge honor just to be able to do that little bit. Just to make people feel better. I was in the Army myself. I know what it’s like to go through Desert Storm and be out there not have any warm food. You finally get that first hot meal and it’s a blessing.”

During the floods that overtook North Louisiana, Catholic organizations reached out to those in need across the diocese. Look for more coverage on these events in our next issue.  

by David Bodden and Jessica Rinaudo

Wilson Appointed as Music Director of St. Cecilia Choir

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You may not have heard of the Diocese of Shreveport’s St. Cecilia Choir, but if you’ve ever been to a diocesan event, like Chrism Mass or an ordination, you have more than likely heard their moving voices create the perfect, holy atmosphere for Mass.

Bishop Michael Duca recently appointed Aaron Wilson as the Music Director of the St. Cecilia Choir, making official the position he has manned since 2012. Aaron, who is the Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shreveport, loves the opportunity to bring people together from across the diocese for this ministry.

“The St. Cecilia Choir is a diocesan choir made up of people from all around the diocese – from all the churches and their choirs,” said Aaron, “And there are people from outside that realm as well. We have some Centenary choir students who sing with us. It’s a very mixed group.”

“Anybody can join if they have a love and passion for music and liturgy,” he added. “We have all kinds of people at all different levels. Which is great, because the people who are really good at what they do, they help out the newer ones.”

Aaron describes the St. Cecilia Choir as a “moving choir” because it does not always have the same group of people in it. Instead of practicing year-round for concerts, the choir is event-based. Prior to an event, the choir gathers for an hour and half each week for three to four weeks to prepare. Some of the events they sing at include Chrism Mass, Red Mass, anniversaries, priest ordinations and priest funerals.

But, Aaron added, in the past the St. Cecilia Choir has come together to perform concerts of major works like requiems. “I’d like to get back to doing something like that again,” said Aaron. “In the fall I want to do a Lessons and Carols and get people interested that way.”
The St. Cecilia Choir is also a unique evangelization opportunity.

“Some of our people who sing in [the choir] are not Catholic. They get exposed to the liturgy,” said Aaron. “We actually have, right now, a professor from BPCC singing in the choir who teaches a Sacred Music class and he had his students go to Chrism Mass as part of the requirement to see Catholic liturgy in action.”

Aaron, as a convert to Catholicism, is particularly excited about that aspect of the choir. He grew up in in Bossier City and attended college at the University of Houston where he earned his degrees in organ and choral conducting. He stayed in the Houston area for 10 years, leading a Presbyterian choir of 100 members. He then moved to the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, and within his first year there he converted to Catholicism.

“I really found my calling in the Catholic Church. I have a high respect for the liturgy. It kind of all makes sense now,” said Aaron. “Because when you’re Protestant, you get bits and pieces of it, and then it all makes sense when you come to the source. ‘Oh that’s why we do that!’”
Michael Kenney, under Bishop William Friend, was the original Director of the St. Cecilia Choir, and he helped guide Aaron as he took its helm. “It was great to know Mike before he left,” said Aaron. “He gave me a lot of insight as to what happens at these diocesan events and how to manage everything.”

Aaron describes the members of the St. Cecilia choir as a happy and high-spirited group. “I’m passionate about choral music and the meaning behind the text and getting people energized to sing,” he said.

Aaron encourages adults college age and older to consider being a part of the St. Cecilia Choir.  It’s a great opportunity to meet other people from North Louisiana who have a joy and passion for music and liturgy. To join, all you need to do is contact Aaron via email, awilson@stjosephchurch.net, or by phone at the St. Joseph Church Office, 318-865-3581.

Your next opportunity to see the choir in action is as the Diocese of Shreveport’s Red Mass, which honors judges, lawyers and court officials, on Friday, May 6, at 9:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport.

by Jessica Rinaudo

Vocations View: Answer God with a Resounding “Yes”

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Another academic year of seminary formation is coming to an end. We began the year with 10 seminarians at three seminaries, and as the year nears its end we currently have nine seminarians. This is truly a gift to the Church in north Louisiana. It is a sign of hope in the future. It is during this time of year that I welcome inquiries by men who are considering discerning their call in a more formal environment. Seminary is a place for discernment and formation. It is a place where you can take the time to listen more intently to the call of God. It is a place where you can grow in your relationship with God. It is a place where you can be formed into the man God is calling you to be.

I invite anyone who has heard that small still voice, who has felt the call of God in their heart, who has felt moved by God to follow Him in a radical way, to contact me. I encourage you to spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, pray the Rosary on a regular basis, talk to your priest, make confession a regular part of your life and receive the Eucharist worthily as often as you can. Each of these things will draw you more deeply into the mystery that is God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There is nothing that the Church needs more at this time than more holy priests.Think of lives you can change, the mercy you can share, the love you can experience and the hope you can impart. Priesthood makes you a part, not only of the one family of God but also an honorary member of the many families you will serve. Priesthood gives you the ability to help make Christ present in the world.

Every one of us desires to make an impact on the world, to help to make the world a better place. There is no better way to do this than serving God by participating in the ordained priesthood of Jesus Christ.

If you have been called, then please call me so we can take the first step towards giving you the ability to answer God with a resounding “Yes.” Follow the example of Moses, David and Elijah. Be brave like Joseph and Mary. Change the world like Peter, Paul, James and John. Make a difference like St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. God calls and all we have to do is trust in Him. I promise He will take care of the rest.

by  Fr. Matthew Long, Director of Vocations

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