Monthly Archives: April 2016

Bishop’s Reflection: Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of Love

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.”  With these words Pope Francis begins his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, released on April 8, 2016.  An apostolic exhortation is a particular kind of papal teaching that communicates the mind of the pope on a certain topic. This new exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (AL), shares the conclusions of the Holy Father from the two synods of bishops and his reflection and teaching on love, marriage and family.

There has been, in some circles of the Church, a fear that in this document Pope Francis would change the teachings of the Church on marriage and family.  A thoughtful reading of the text shows that the Holy Father is presenting a clear reaffirmation of our understanding of marriage and family. This document also shows a keen understanding of the world today. In an insightful statement Pope Francis notes: “The fear of loneliness and the desire for stability and fidelity exist side by side with a growing fear of entrapment in a relationship that could hamper the achievement of one’s personal goals” (AL 34).  Also, spread throughout the text are beautiful descriptions of marriage that affirm the Catholic understanding of marriage. For example:

“After the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the “greatest form of friendship.” It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship: concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the resemblance born of a shared life. Marriage joins to all this an indissoluble exclusivity expressed in the stable commitment to share and shape together the whole of life.. Those who marry do not expect their excitement to fade…(they) trust that it will pass the test of time. Children not only want their parents to love one another, but also to be faithful and remain together. …it is in the very nature of conjugal love to be definitive… For believers, it is also a covenant before God…”

AND “Nonetheless, the conjugal union is ordered to procreation “by its very nature.”  The child who is born “does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment”. …From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself” (AL 80).

Yet while the Holy Father states clearly the ideal, he makes a clear point that there are many challenges in the world to marriage and family life. We need to consider the concrete realities facing marriage today.

Pope Francis draws heavily on the final reports of the two synods naming some of the many worldwide challenges to the family. He speaks of the concrete challenges of migration, the ideological denial of differences between the sexes (“ideology of gender”), the anti-birth mentality, the lack of housing and work, pornography and abuse of minors, inattention to persons with disabilities, lack of respect for the elderly, the legal dismantling of the family and violence against women.

By taking a realistic look at families while holding up its ideal, he wants to stress a very important point. The ideals of marriage are not to be held up as a dividing line where we have perfect families on one side and broken families on the other. NO. He stresses that, “No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love…  All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater… May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.” (AL 325)

He urges us not to harshly judge or push struggling families to the periphery. Rather, Pope Francis invites us to treasure all families in all their realities including extended family as well. He encourages us to affirm the goodness and the sacredness of their vocation, accompany them in meeting the challenges they face and include them in parish life so they can draw strength from the life of the Church.

There is so much richness in this new exhortation. Everyone will benefit from a prayerful reading, especially married couples or those preparing for marriage. As always, DO NOT LET THE SECULAR MEDIA BE YOUR GUIDE TO THIS TEACHING.  Listen to your pastors, Catholic publications and visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website, USCCB.org, for other resources.

Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love; to you we turn with trust. Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches. Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing. Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Graciously hear our prayer.  Amen.

Archbishop Pierre Appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre, titular archbishop of Gunela, as the new apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Pierre, 70, has served as nuncio to Mexico since 2007 and succeeds Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who has held the post since 2011 and reached the retirement age of 75 in January.

Christophe Pierre was born January 30, 1946 in Rennes, France. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and has previously served as nuncio to Haiti (1995-1999) and Uganda (1999-2007). An apostolic nuncio is the pope’s personal representative in a country that has full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Red Mass to Celebrate Legal Professionals and Heart of Hope

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The Red Mass, which takes place annually at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in May of each year, has become a fixture in the Diocese of Shreveport. Now in its 24th year, the Mass, which invokes God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice, is well attended by local judges, lawyers and government officials. The Mass always takes place the first Friday in May in conjunction with the nationally recognized Law Week.

The Red Mass has a rich history originating centuries ago in Rome, Paris and London. Its traditional name is derived from the color of the vestments worn by the celebrants of the Mass. Over the centuries, the Red Mass has officially opened the judicial year of the Sacred Roman Rota, the Tribunal of the Holy See. During the reign of Louis IX, Saint Louis of France, La Sainte Chapelle was designated as the Chapel for the Mass and is now used only once a year solely for the Red Mass. In England, the tradition began in the Middle Ages and continued even during World War II when judges and lawyers attended the Red Mass annually at the Westminster Cathedral. The tradition was inaugurated in the United States in 1928 at old Saint Andrew’s Church in New York City. Since then, the Red Mass has been celebrated annually there and in many cities in the United States.

Locally, the Red Mass Society of Shreveport has been sponsoring the Mass since 1993. Their primary mission is to organize the annual Red Mass, which includes selecting a homilist and honoree.

Richard Hiller is a local attorney and Chairman of the Red Mass Society. He is excited about this year’s event during which Bishop Shelton Fabre from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux will give the homily, and local non-profit Heart of Hope will be the honoree.

“Heart of Hope is a local non-profit ministry that helps young women who are facing a pregnancy – it helps them with making a decision on their child and adoption,” said Hiller. “It’s a local, non-profit that strictly relies on local community donations. It doesn’t get any money from any government agencies. It actually has a place out in Keithville, Louisiana where these young women can stay and get counseling and get support in making a big decision in their life.”

“We have members of the honoree, this year Heart of Hope, that come to the Mass and Bishop Duca will ask them to come forward and they will get a special recognition during the Mass,” Hiller added. “Also, the Red Mass Society provides a donation to the Heart of Hope Ministry.”
Hiller is also looking forward to having Bishop Fabre as the guest homilist, as well as the music.

“Bishop Fabre is a wonderful homilist. I’d really like people to come to the Red Mass to hear Bishop Fabre, but not only that. What’s also great about the Red Mass is that the music is quite extraordinary. We have the Zion Baptist Church do the music before Mass, they start at about 8:30 a.m. The Mass is actually at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, May 6 at Holy Trinity. The judges and officials gather across the street at the second circuit, [then] they walk across,” he said.  “During the service we have the St. Cecilia Choir. If you like music, want to hear a wonderful homilst, and recognize a very deserving honoree in Heart of Hope, I hope you will come to the Red Mass.”

The Red Mass is an ecumenical event with pastors of different faiths coming together to bestow their blessings and prayers on legal professionals. All people of all faiths are welcome to join the Red Mass Society and the Diocese of Shreveport at this annual event.

by Jessica Rinaudo

Catholic Charities Provides Help for Victims After Flood

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by Lucy Medvec

When excessive rainfall created flooding this spring throughout North Louisiana, thousands of residents across the state suffered property damage and loss.  In the 16 parishes that encompass the Diocese of Shreveport, 14 were declared disaster areas by the federal government. National organizations such as FEMA and the American Red Cross were quick to arrive after the floods to provide immediate help to displaced victims and worked with local churches, volunteers and nonprofits to help those who were affected by the flooding.

For Jean Dresley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, this was the second time in nine months that she was deeply involved in the flood relief efforts. Dresley served as the co-chairman of VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) both during the June 2015 and March 2016 floods. VOAD coordinated all volunteer and relief efforts for the area, working with both national and local relief organizations. This experience gave her the knowledge of how to provide assistance to flood victims not only in the immediate aftermath, but in the many months following floods. “With the recent flooding, thousands of people have lost or sustained damage to their homes and will have to make living arrangements to carry them through the rebuilding period,” said Dresley. “It is during the long term period that organizations such as Catholic Charities of North Louisiana can provide vital assistance to those who need it most.”

Of all the parishes that were affected in the diocese, Ouachita was one that was hit the hardest.  “We are working through our Catholic Charities satellite office in Monroe and the local VOAD organization to set up a Long Term Recovery Group to provide assistance to residents who will face many challenges in the coming months,” said Dresley. “We will be able to provide resources for many people who will need support once their initial assistance from FEMA has been depleted.”

Catholic Charities can also provide support to local immigrants who may not qualify for federal assistance. In March when the Mexican Consulate came to Shreveport, Catholic Charities was there working with the Hispanic community providing help for those who had not received funds.

“Our area has been hit hard with the March floods and we need to be able to help those in our communities get back on their feet and into their homes,” Dresley emphasized.

Catholic Charities Disaster Relief

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana accepts donations that will be used exclusively for those who have been affected by the recent floods.  Donations can be made online at www.ccnla.org, or by sending a check to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, 331 E. 71st Street, Shreveport, LA 71101 (please note that your donation is for Disaster Relief).

If you are interested in volunteering in ongoing community clean-up efforts, please visit www.lincc.us for volunteer opportunities.

New Rectory Blessed at St. Pius X Parish

Bishop Michael Duca blesses the new rectory at St. Pius X Parish in Shreveport with Fr. Joe Kallookalam, CMI.

Pro-Life Speaker Engages Students

It isn’t often that a nationally-known pro-life speaker comes to Ruston, but that’s just what happened the last week of March. Bulldogs for Life, the pro-life organization at Louisiana Tech, sponsored Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal to speak on the Louisiana Tech campus.

Aimee, a rather unconventional pro-lifer, arrived by Greyhound bus sporting a “This is What a Pro-Life Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt and a multicolored hairstyle. Right out of college, she founded Life Matters Journal, a non-partisan publication that addresses human rights issues. Now at 27, she travels around the country to speak at conferences, rallies and universities.

Her first appearance on Tech’s campus involved a tabling display. She invited students to participate in a survey using a banner that read “Who Deserves Human Rights?” and showed pictures of all kinds of people – including POWs at Guantanamo, unborn children and death row inmates. Students used sticky notes to identify those they believe deserve human rights, while she and Bulldogs for Life members engaged the participants as to why they chose or excluded those they did.

The underlying message – they all deserve human rights. The following night, Aimee spoke to a crowd of nearly 60 students about the fundamental dignity of the human person, a dignity that is not dependent on size or usefulness or good behavior. She gave a message of compassion and peace, teaching her listeners to love not only the idea of human rights, but the human too.

by Courtney Smith

SJB Students Win Regional Robotics Competition

Recently, the St. John Berchmans Robotics team, coached by Andy Hitt and sponsored by Annalisa Blanchard, competed in the Regional Autonomous Robotics Circuit (RARC) competition. RARC is a series of three competitions throughout the year that allow students to showcase their STEM skills by competing against other students in their division in a series of STEM challenges.

Why are STEM competitions so important?  According to the February 2012 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report to the President, the nation will require approximately one million more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), professionals than what will be produced at the current rates over the next decade.

The competitions are sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the City of Bossier, Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, Bossier Parish Schools and Caddo Parish Schools.

During the second competition of the year, St. John Berchmans Robotics Team One took home the first place trophy in the elementary division – a division that was represented by 89 teams from across the region. Congratulations to our 5th grade Robotics team on winning first place!  What a bright future you have ahead of you!

Jesus the Good Shepherd Welcomes Fr. Moran

The students and faculty of Jesus the Good Shepherd School would like to extend a warm welcome to Fr. Jim Moran. Fr. Jim is a member of the Oratory of St. Phillip Neri in Rock Hill, SC. He has been given leave to work in the Diocese of Shreveport as Parochial Vicar of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe. Fr. Jim was raised in Natchitoches and has family and friends throughout Shreveport and north Louisiana.

Youth Faced Off in Diocesan Quiz Bowl

On Sunday, April 10, Middle School Youth from across the diocese joined together to compete in a Catechetical Quiz Bowl at St. Thomas Aquinas in Ruston. The event winners were from the team “Kids of Christ” from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish (pictured). In second place was the “Gospel Gang” from St. Paschal Parish in West Monroe.

Divine Mercy Celebration

The group “Mary’s Servants of Mercy” made their Divine Mercy Consecration on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 3, after completing Fr. Michael Gaitley’s new book 33 Days to Merciful Love.