Monthly Archives: April 2017

Reflection on the Four Marks of the Church

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by Kim Long

The Nicene Creed was written centuries ago to help Christians remember the important beliefs of the faith. In the Nicene Creed we identify the four marks of the Church. These marks are not characteristics that the Church creates, develops or learns, but are qualities that Jesus Christ shares with his Church through the Holy Spirit. The four marks of the Church are that it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

Events in our daily lives offer us the opportunity to connect with God in many ways, from visiting the sick, making a meal for a friend, offering a prayer and recognizing a deeper meaning to almost anything we do. Events in our daily lives can be viewed through many lenses or perspectives.

ONENESS

Several years ago my number came up – it was my turn to teach our eleventh grade Confirmation class. I liked all the students, but I feared I would not be able to connect with them. In the end, it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection about how to lead this group, which was full of 13 very different personalities.

On day one the Holy Spirit set the tone for the coming year. Looking at the students, again who were so different from one another in background, personality and where they were in their relationships with God, I wondered how to break the ice. I posed the question, “How do people know you are part of your family?” Each stated their family surname but I gently pressed them to think  more about it. Then statements began to roll off their tongues: “We’re Hispanic,” “We’re Creole,” “My family are welders,” “All the men in my family served in the military,”  “My family are farmers,” “My uncle is a priest,” “We pray the rosary with my grandmother.”

I asked, “How do people know we are Catholic?” Those answers came a bit quicker: the cross of ashes, Communion, giving up something for Lent, pro-life, Advent. Then we began to talk about the marks of the Church, which they told me they did not know. I reminded them we pray them every Sunday in the Creed: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. They knew them, they were even “marked” by them, but they did not realize it.

In the visibility of the Church, oneness is easy to recognize through the liturgy. Whether we are in Shreveport, Ireland, Jordan, or anyplace on the planet, our Mass is the same, our readings are the same. This is a wonderful comfort in a world that seems to be ever-changing.  In the visibility of the oneness of the Church, diversity also exists just as it did in that Confirmation class.

Ephesians 4:4,5 “There is one body, one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one faith, one hope, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.”

HOLY

I received a telephone call from my oldest son a few days ago. One of his employees and his wife were in town with their four-year-old son. They were at a local hospital due to their son’s condition. At four years old his body’s white blood cells needed to “wake up.” I offered to go by and check on them, but my son said, “No, I don’t think they will be there very long.” I offered a prayer for the family and went about my business and my busy-ness as Holy Week fast approached.

Late one night my text alert buzzed: “Mom, can you go by and visit them? I think they need a friendly face.”

The next afternoon I parked and went in search of this young family. I found them, introductions were made and the usual questions gently asked, “Can I do anything? Do you need anything? Is there a pastor I can contact for you? Would you like to pray?”

I gave them my number and wondered if I would hear from them. We had not met before that day. I texted daily to check on them and then they asked if I would be willing to stay with their son while they got something to eat.

In the entry to his hospital room were strict instructions to wash, put on gloves, mask and gown. I wondered if I would frighten this child whom I had not seen before. He thought I looked funny and we laughed about it. During that short 90 minutes, he laughed, we played cards, looked at every picture on my cell phone and then he said, “Do you want to see my back?” Not sure I did, I said ok.

He lifted his pajama top and there were two bandages and a clear plastic shield. He seemed to catch my inability to respond to this and assured me, “It doesn’t hurt. The doctor said it will come off by itself.”

As I left the hospital I prayed hard for that family and I thanked God for showing me His grace and His holiness in that small, brave four-year-old child. Abraham Joshua Heschel’s quote, “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy” never rang louder in my ears as it did that moment.

CATHOLIC

This was a moment I dreaded. The phone call, the preparation, the loss. I did not want this funeral to happen because I did not want this friend, inspiration, disciple and brother in Christ to die, yet I knew he was tired and as it states in Timothy, he had finished the race.

In all the time I have been at my parish, I have seldom seen the church as full as it was that day; every pew was occupied. As I looked around at the sea of faces there were Creoles, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Anglos. There were young and old and we all knew and loved the same person.

As I sat there, I thought about how many lives he had touched, how loved he was, and how each one of us had known a different side of wonderful spirit. As the priest (one of five or six) rose to give the homily, he began to say everything that I was thinking.

Later I told that priest, whom I have known for many years, to “get out of my head.” But the truth is he wasn’t in my head, our brother in Christ, was in all of our heads.
As I walked away, the meaning of the word “catholic” was being widened past my pew, my grief, my parish; I was beginning to realize the fullness, beyond time and space that our faith offers daily. God had taught me through Pete’s life and now was teaching me through his death.

“The word of truth is growing…and bearing fruit in the whole world.” (Colossians 1: 5-6).

APOSTOLIC

The old television show Mission Impossible always began the same way. The main character would find a small tape recorder with a cryptic and dangerous mission and then the zinger at the end was always the same: “This is your mission should you choose to accept it.” So it is with the gospel.

Unlike the cast of Mission Impossible we have (in most cases) more than 47 minutes to fulfill our mission. What is our mission? To live out the gospel teachings of Jesus – simple, but not easy. If we take a look at the apostles, they went from being disciples (students) to apostles (teachers). And truth be told they came into this role gradually. Peter went from denying Jesus to being the rock upon which the Church was built. Thomas, in his doubting moment, gives me courage to know that when I doubt I don’t have to stay in that moment of flux. Apostolic can also be tied to learning. I ask myself, “Am I willing to let go of what I think I know and be open to the teachings of the Church? Am I willing to examine them and make adjustments in my life? Am I willing to accept my mission to do my part in echoing Jesus’s prayer ‘on earth as it is in heaven?’”

I am growing in my appreciation of the marks and what they have to teach me. Did it happen all at once? No. But I am willing to learn, contemplate, pray over, accept what they have to teach me about being a better person, to lead me in a way that allows me to live my baptismal promises more deeply. This Eastertide I hope you will consider these teachings and all they offer us. May we walk in the light, may we rest in the shadow and may we continue the journey to deepening our faith. May we become “marked and dangerous,” fearless in our love of God and all that He has for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  •

May is Older Americans’ Month!

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

There is a smile on Gods face and music in His voice as He looks upon all the agers in America who are aging out loud.

President John F. Kennedy began this celebration of older people in 1963 and encouraged us to celebrate the month of May in a very special way. Aging needs not only our loving, personal attention, but listening from the heart to what older adults have to say to everyone.

We are put on earth for a purpose. Cant you see the hand of God in your life?  We’ve got a secure future in Gods hands. The patron saint of joy is St. Philip Neri and, like him, we all have to walk across every bridge we meet. Have we crossed the bridge yet? What are you doing on the other side as you age?  Let his joy be your gift this month as you smile and help someone.

Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Our joy must be shared with others.

Don’t allow your wrinkles or graying hair to slow down your gait or rob you of life’s aging joys this month, as we celebrate who we have become. You can still “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15).

Our journey of aging is not finished until we finish serving others. Who knows where we are going and exactly what will happen as we age out loud by not allowing stress, loneliness and depression take hold of our lives?

In this life only three things should be uppermost in our minds: faith, hope and love – not age. This month, create a sense of unity among others by inspiring them. Look for others who are showing us what getting older looks like today and listen to the issues they are concerned about. Speak out about important aging issues. We shouldn’t keep silent or disconnect ourselves from others as we age, lest we breed all sorts of maladies of the body, mind and spirit.

For me, aging is a lifetime of fruitfulness, love, graying hair, wrinkles and the joy that is our birthright from God because we belong to Him. He is a God of unlimited abundance and has more than enough for us. Blessed are we who have made good use of our years!

Blessed are the aging hearts who wait patiently for their lives to be increased, theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Time is not our enemy, but our friend. Let us not delay any longer, but age out loud, filling our lives with laughter, friends, family, doing what we want to do, allowing the Spirit to move your heart to do new things.

May your aging out loud be iced with the beauty of your mind, spirit, connectedness, and decorated with happiness, lots of joy, respect, friends, love and laughter.  At the end of the month, may you be filled with new attitudes about what it means to be yourself and to age out loud.  Thank God for all the tomorrows and live into the future closer to Him.

“We will be remembered forever by the tracks we leave,” is an old Native American saying. Happy Older Americans Month!

Movie Showings of Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima for 100th Anniversary

May 13, 2017, is the 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima.

In our continuing efforts of evangelization through media, the 1952 Warner Brothers production of the true story of the apparition, Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, will be shown at the Catholic Center in Shreveport on Tuesday, May 23, at 6:00 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 24, at 2:00 p.m., as well as at the Monroe Civic Center on Thursday, May 25, at 12:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

This movie gives a moving and accurate account of the 1917 events in full color and in true Hollywood fashion on the big movie screen, starring, among others, Gilbert Roland.

This movie is based upon the Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children living in Fatima, Portugal. The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The reported apparitions at Fatima were accepted to be believed by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date.

This event is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.dioshpt.org, or call 318-868-4441.

Shreveport’s Cathedral to be Featured on EWTN

“Within the Orb of Glories Wearing”

Music by Kermit Poling Performed by the Shreveport Festival String Quartet Narrated by Father Peter Mangum

The Shreveport Festival String Quartet performed Kermit Poling’s original music reflecting on the lives of seven saints – Within the Orb of Glories Wearing!  It will air on EWTN in the United States on May 21, at 12:30 p.m.!

The musical reflection celebrates the lives of seven saints through a seven-movement piece for string quartet by composer Kermit Poling.  The saints’ lives featured are St. Paul, St. Cecelia, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Br. Joseph Thamby, and St. John Berchmans.

U.S. Bishops Conference Calls for Renewed Peace Efforts in Syria

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U.S. Bishops Conference Calls for Renewed Peace Efforts in Syria
Bishops Echo Call of Pope Francis to Attain Peace in Syria “Through Dialogue and Reconciliation”
from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, have issued a joint statement calling for renewed peace efforts in Syria.

The full statement is as follows:

“Three days ago, our Conference of Bishops decried the chemical attack in Syria as one that ‘shocks the soul. The use of internationally banned indiscriminate weapons is morally reprehensible. At the same time, our Conference affirmed the call of Pope Francis to attain peace in Syria ‘through dialogue and reconciliation.

The longstanding position of our Conference of Bishops is that the Syrian people urgently need a political solution. We ask the United States to work tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities.

We once again make our own the earlier call of our Holy Father, Pope Francis: ‘I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people. May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries.

Join us as we pray for the intercession of Our Lady Queen of Peace that the work of humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding will find strength in the merciful love of her Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Kids’ Connection: St. Rita of Cascia

Click to download and print out this month’s Kids’ Connection on St. Rita of Cascia.

Deason New Principal at St. John Berchmans Catholic School

St. John Berchmans Catholic School is excited to announce Jennifer Deason will be the school’s new principal beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

Deason began her career at SJB in 2012 as the school counselor, just one year after being named Middle School Counselor of the Year for the state of Louisiana. While a certified teacher (1-8) and school counselor (K-12), Mrs. Deason went on to obtain her Educational Leadership I certification and was named assistant principal, where she has worked seamlessly with retiring principal Jo Cazes the past five years. She also holds a dual certification as a National Certified Counselor and National Certified School Counselor. Deason is currently on track to receive her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and is in the dissertation phase of her program.

“The past five years working with the faculty, staff and students at St. John Berchmans School have been a wonderful experience,” said Deason. “I love being a part of this school and community and am grateful to continue to work with our excellent staff and teachers to educate our students. I am excited to be stepping into the role of principal, and look forward to leading the school into the future.”

Deason has a passionate commitment to excellence in education. She generates a positive Catholic culture and environment in the school, which supports SJBs mission statement. Deason leads with kindness, patience and an optimistic outlook. She is truly an invaluable asset to SJB!

Leadership Changes at St. Frederick High School in Monroe

New Principal Blair David

New President Bob Webber

Bishop Michael G. Duca of the Diocese of Shreveport is pleased to announce that after several years of working to transition their academic focus from a traditional classroom environment to a science-centered focus around technology and engineering, St. Frederick High School, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, will appoint Mr. Blair David, formally the STREAM director and vice-principal, as principal of the school effective July 1, 2017.  Along with this change, current principal Dr. Bob Webber will be moving into the role of president, also effective July 1, 2017.

By making this change, David will concentrate on the academic success of St. Frederick High School and continue to place an emphasis on the science, technology and engineering curriculum. St. Frederick plans further utilization of Dr. Webber’s experience in community relations and his strong regional ties to build new relationships and strengthen existing partnerships.  The student experience at St. Frederick will be enhanced by these changes and the staff and student body are excited about the upcoming academic year.

St. Frederick and its stakeholders are thrilled to be moving full steam (or as St. Frederick likes to say…full STREAM) ahead by providing the best educational environment in northeast Louisiana for students in grades seventh through twelfth.  St. Frederick High School is committed to providing a superior student experience that is grounded in faith, academic excellence and community engagement.  Everyone is invited to visit the school and see the exciting things that are happening. Please contact St. Frederick’s at 318-323-9636 to schedule your visit to our growing and diverse campus! •

Shreveport’s Red Mass Celebrates 25 Years

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by John Mark Willcox

The year was 1992, only six years had passed since the creation of our diocese and several Catholics in the law field, joined by another group of supportive lawyers and judges from other faith traditions, sought to renew the age old tradition of the Red Mass to invoke God’s blessing and guidance in the administration of justice.  Red is chosen for the Mass to invoke the Holy Spirit and the first Friday in May was selected to coincide with the nation’s Law Week.

Holy Trinity Church was chosen as the home of the Red Mass and the late Msgr. William O’Hanlon joined with a group of law professionals including Larry and Janey Pettiette, the late Don Miller (a non-Catholic), along with Trudy Daniel and others and they began the planning for the first Red Mass presided over by our late Bishop William B. Friend.  That first Friday in May of 1992 saw every Louisiana Supreme Court Justice seated at Holy Trinity to witness a unique and meaningful ecumenical gathering of those connected to the administration of law which included a real and heart-felt blessing placed upon those with the awesome responsibility of carrying out this task in our nation of freedom.

In the 25 years since, the Red Mass of Shreveport has seen a host of visiting bishops, prelates, one cardinal and the Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court as special guests for this time-honored tradition.  “We have been beyond blessed by the success of our Red Mass,” commented Shreveport attorney Larry Pettiette.  “The people of our shared field of law have really bought into the Red Mass, and participation among our associates has just been fantastic.”  Special honorees are also chosen each year for recognition of their ministry of the people of the region.  “We like to honor organizations that provide for people and our Red Mass provides that opportunity,” commented Pettiette.

Bishop WIlliam B. Friend at the 2004 Red Mass.

Current Holy Trinity Pastor Msgr. Earl V. Provenza remains amazed at how the Red Mass has been able to attract interest from across the nation.  “We wanted Cardinal Egan to join us in 2008, so Bishop Friend offered him an invitation and he accepted,” said Provenza.  “We continued to dream big so Judge Henry A. Politz sent an invitation to Anton Scalia in 2005, and low and behold, he joined us as well.”  Msgr. Provenza will serve as Master of Ceremonies and our own Bishop Michael Duca will be the principal celebrant and homilist for this special 25th year of the Red Mass.

All are invited to be a part of the ongoing tradition of this year’s Red Mass which will take place on Friday, May 5th, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in downtown Shreveport beginning at 9:00 a.m.  Holy Angels Residential Facility will be the special honoree for 2017.  A reception at the Petroleum Club will follow.

The Harm of Pornography & Hope Beyond Addiction: Arming & Healing Our Children

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Series written by Katie Sciba under guidance of Fr. Sean Kilcawley, STL

This is the final installment in a four-piece series on pornography. The first three can be found in the January, March and April 2017 issues of The Catholic Connection, or online at www.thecatholicconnection.org.

“[Young people] should be helped to recognize and to seek out positive influences, while shunning the things that cripple their capacity for love” (Amoris Laetitia, 281).
“The sad reality is that many children…begin viewing hard-core pornography long before their parents even consider discussing its dangers,” says Kristen Jenson, author of Good Pictures, Bad Pictures. The average age of exposure to pornography has slipped in recent years to a range of 8-11 years old, and because of its severe content, many children are afraid to approach their parents.

“Pornography today is violent; there are people enduring horrific sexual abuse” in addition to other lewd behaviors characteristic to the industry, says Matt Fradd, speaker and founder of The Porn Effect. “Kids don’t know how to process the combination of disgust, arousal, fear and excitement, so they hesitate to tell Mom and Dad, or don’t tell them at all.”

It’s this combination of reactions that adds up to a traumatic experience, according to Dr. Todd Bowman, director of the Sexual Addiction Treatment Provider Institute. Viewing pornography distorts sexuality, relationships and humanity in general. “Those traumas wire their ways into the brain’s memory and the damage comes when the sexual images or experience is incongruent with the level of development,” Dr. Bowman says.

But if a child isn’t saying anything, how do you know whether they’ve seen pornography? “It’s big differences within the child’s temperament that act as indicators,” says Dr. Bowman, such as if a child is suddenly aggressive when he usually isn’t, or moody and disconnected when she’s more often even-tempered and engaging. Is there a loss of interest in what usually draws them? “Sudden changes in a kid’s own ‘norm’ should alert parents. It may not be pornography, but something’s not right.” Exposure at any young age can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, frequent porn “use” or the inclination to mimic the behaviors seen.

This is why a conversation on pornography has to be initiated by parents, and with child exposure on the rise, moms and dads are taking a stronger initiative to arm their children. “It’s necessary because if we aren’t our kids’ primary source of information, the world will be,” says Jennifer Davis, wife and mom of eight. She and her husband Matt are turning over a new cultural leaf by having open, age-appropriate dialogue with their children.

The Davises are just one family who’ve found a prize in Good Pictures, Bad Pictures. Designed to be read by parents with their children as young as five years, the book broaches the subject of porn without corrupting a child’s innocence, and has been a helpful tool in navigating what many consider a daunting conversation. “Because this is all new to them, we realized the awkwardness was entirely on our side and by approaching the subjects of pornography and sexuality with confidence, we show them there’s nothing to fear,” says Davis.

Having open dialogue on pornography with teenagers is paramount to their safety as well, especially since so many are immersed in social media. Apps and sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, make accessing pornography easy, even by accident. “Parents shouldn’t be surprised if their teen has already been exposed,” says Fr. Sean Kilcawley, theological advisor of Integrity Restored.com. “Ask when they first saw it, how it made them feel. Say, ‘I’m sorry that happened to you,’ and tell them you’ll do your best to protect them.” Following through by establishing parental controls at home and having routine conversation will help them feel safe.

“If your child comes forward, reinforce their vulnerability,” Fradd advises. “Thank you for telling me. I’m so proud of you. It wasn’t your fault.” The more open the dialogue, the less room there is for emotional and psychological damage, and the more potential there is for recovery.

Regardless if a child is exposed or a teen is struggling with addiction, both are victims in need of their parents’ concern and compassion.

Fradd also advises that parents be apprehensive about equipping their kids with devices. “If it’s necessary, it has to come with boundaries. Safe places to charge it at night, a safe browser or Internet filtering.” Dr. Bowman and his family utilize a “device basket” where all kids – their own as well as friends – place their phones and other Internet enabled electronics during visits. Disabling downloads, turning off wifi during desired hours, or using routers with parental controls like OpenDNS (free), KoalaSafe or HomeHalo are ways to control Internet access, too.

It’s important to note that pornography addiction can be avoided. Though preventing exposure may seem impossible, the fallout can be minimized with open, receptive conversation and boundaries.

Resources – Books
•  Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. by Kristen Jenson (for ages 3-6)
•  Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing by Kristen Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner
•  Angry Birds & Killer Bees by Dr. Todd Bowman
•  Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography
•  Every Parent’s Battle: A Family Guide to Resisting Pornography by Dan Spencer, III
•  Wonderfully Made Babies by Ellen Giangiordano
•  Beyond the Birds and the Bees by Gregory & Lisa Popcak

Resources – Online
ProtectYoungEyes.com
CovenantEyes.com for Internet filtering and accountability